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China to dominate golf

By James McCarten (November 2010)

http://www.golf365.com/news_story/0,17923,9785_5544591,00.html

(Reuters) -- While the United States has been hit hard by the global economic downturn, Asia has recovered more quickly and Florida-based Nicklaus, who has won a record 18 major titles, does just 0.3 percent of his work in his home country.

“The recession has not been as severe here as it has been in the States, 90 percent of my work, golf course design work now, is here in Asia,” Nicklaus, whose company has designed almost 350 courses worldwide, told Reuters in an interview.

The rise of Asia’s economic power and golf’s presence in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will boost course construction in countries like China and India and the former will one day provide five of the world’s top players, Nicklaus predicted.

Asia won its first men’s major title when South Korean Yang Yong-eun won the U.S. PGA Championship this year and Nicklaus said he thought the likes of the self-taught Yang will become the norm from the continent rather than the exception.

“I see the game (in Asia) becoming far more an everyday person’s game,” said Nicklaus. “In 10-15 years all of these kids are going to be playing this game, some of them are going to be pretty darned good.”

The 69-year-old Nicklaus said he plays more tennis than golf these days as he does not get “a big thrill” from the game he once dominated, though he does keep a close eye on the way it is played.

Initially a sceptic about rule changes to equipment, likening them to “the deckchairs on the Titanic”, Nicklaus is now an enthusiastic convert and said the golf authorities avoided a fight they could not win.

“It’s a domino effect,” he said. “It’s going to make itself felt throughout the whole game.

“I think they (golf authorities) have been very clever.”

As for Tiger Woods, the man who dominates the modern game with 14 major titles, Nicklaus conceded that he will one day overtake his record.

“I suspect that he probably will pass it, I suspect he probably will do (it) in two or three years,” said Nicklaus who noted that Woods’ closest rivals have won just three majors.

“If he does that’s fine, (but) he still has to do it, it isn’t a given.”

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