Masters Tee Off
Phil Mickelson has enjoyed a Hall of Fame career in golf that has seen him collect five Majors – the biggest prizes the sport offers – across two decades of play out on the fairways.
At 49 years of age, Mickelson is still out there, week after week, travelling to country after country, and during his first-ever visit to Macao in October the American revealed that despite his incredible success and experience, he is still trying to improve, both as a player and as a person.
“This game has given me everything and it has taught me everything about myself,” Mickelson said. “That is one of the messages I like to share. I want to let people, especially young people, know just how far sport can take you in life.”
Mickelson’s mission is one shared by Sands China and by the Macao government, and that is why the American was in town in October, joined by China’s number one golfer, Li Haotong, and by Dr Wilfred Wong, president of Sands China Ltd, and Ron Reese, senior vice-president of global communications and corporate affairs for Las Vegas Sands.
“Sands China has always placed importance on leveraging our entertainment and leisure events to give the local community a chance to interact with some of the leading figures in their industries,” said Wong. “We hope this inspires participants to work hard for their goals.
“Sands China have been supporting Macao in its efforts to become a global destination. We’ve had Beyoncé, the Rolling Stones and Lady Gaga. We’ve had boxing, basketball and football. The city is now on top in terms of sports and entertainment and this is in keeping with its role in the development of the Greater Bay Area.”
During their visit, Mickelson and Li put their skills on show during a morning Pro-Am Tournament at Macau Golf and Country Club. Then it was time for a quick rest and a refuel before the pair took to the Caesars Golf Macau and to a junior golf clinic involving 30 young players recruited from the Macao Junior Golf Club Association, the Zhang Lianwei Sports Development Foundation and Macau Special Olympics.
The day’s action continued Las Vegas Sands’ commitment to bringing world-class sporting events and professional athletes to Macao, and to increasing opportunities for the city’s youth, and follows initiatives and partnerships with ambassadors such as UK football icon David Beckham.
Las Vegas Sands and Li used the occasion to announce an ongoing partnership that sees the Chinese golfer take on a role as global brand ambassador for the integrated resort group.
“Li is the brightest star Chinese golf has and we welcome this partnership,” said Reese. “You look around Macao now and you see a transformation taking place. It’s remarkable and events like today say a lot about how Macao has evolved and can now attract celebrities and so many types of entertainers and entertainment options from around the world.”
Li said the fact he was able to immediately go out and give something back to the sport made the day even more special.
“We had a lot of fun coaching some promising young golfers today. It was an inspiring afternoon for us all and I hope they’ll walk away with a few helpful pointers,” said Li. “The young athletes here seem dedicated to improving their skills. It is so exciting to see that golf is loved and played by so many young people here in Macao.
“I have had a passion for this sport since I can remember. I think first you need to have a natural talent, [and] if you aspire to be a good golf player, you must be prepared to put in a lot of effort.”
The 24-year-old has already claimed two titles on the prestigious European Tour and said the day provided him with a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the greatest golfers the game has seen, in Mickelson.
“Golf teaches great values from patience to sportsmanship and working with Phil is an honour,” said Li. “I just hope he shares some of his secrets with me today.”
Li and Mickelson displayed their talent during a skills challenge, before it was time for Sands Style to sit down with the American great and reflect on his career.
Mickelson turned pro back in 1992 and has won three US Masters, the US PGA and the British Open title. Overall, he has lifted 44 titles, a record that ranks the American ninth on the game’s all-time winners list.
While Mickelson believes there are plenty more wins on the horizon, he is also intent on giving back to the game that has provided him with so much.
“Thanks Sands Group for bringing me here and providing me this great opportunity to experience Macao’s golf clubs,” said Mickleson. “Li Haotong and myself are excited to share some of the qualities in this game of golf that brought to us to some of the juniors here the leadership, sportsmanship, mental toughness and also an opportunity for us to show off some of our skills to some of the young juniors and hopefully inspire them. Also we’re hopeful that golf becomes more accessible to the community here. It’s my duty to give back to the game to help promote it and help introduce it to many young players and get them involved in the game.”
Mickelson said that once golfing duties were done he was keen to explore the attractions inside The Venetian Macao – and to sample the cuisine the city is so famous for.
‘I’ve had such a great time here,” he went on. “They’ve promised me more food tonight and I cannot wait. I have heard all about the plans for the Greater Bay Area, and what Sands China are doing and I am excited to have been a part of it. Involving more people in the great game is something I am passionate about and I hope that passion spreads.”