Haikou, China; Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman captured the mood perfectly as he brought down the curtain on the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am, hailing the unique event and the tropical Chinese island of Hainan that hosts it as among the most remarkable things he has seen.
Freeman was joined at the tournament by a glittering array of Hollywood A-listers at Mission Hills Haikou, including fellow Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman, Jessica Alba and Chris Evans, as well as greats from the sporting world including Yao Ming, Evgeni Plushenko and Clarence Seedorf.
“I really appreciate having been invited to this wonderful tournament, to this wonderful place and to spend time with you wonderful people,” said Freeman. “I am amazed by the facilities here, by the people and by your country and I can’t wait to come back and spend time with you again. The resort and this island are among the most remarkable things I have seen.”
Freeman joined playing partner and multiple Major winner Gary Player to help hand out awards to the winners of the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am.
English Ryder Cup star Justin Rose sealed the Professional Individual title with a five-under-par and joined forces with China’s top film director Feng Xiaogang to win the Pro-Celebrity Team category. The Celebrity Individual title was won by Chinese actor Sun Nan.
Mission Hills Haikou also awarded Freeman, Player and basketball great Yao Ming special ‘Spirit of Sport’ awards for their all-round commitment both to the game and to the ethos of friendship the Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am promotes.
“I would like to thank all the world renowned celebrities and the world’s best golf professionals here with us this weekend for their help towards stimulating the popularity of golf in China, for helping to promote Hainan and Haikou tourism, and for all the hard work that you have done towards putting China on the world map of golf,” said Mission Hills Group CEO and Chairman Dr Ken Chu.
The dual title-winning Rose praised the tournament that encouraged guests to mix and mingle not only with each other but with the tens of thousands of fans who gathered to line the fairways each day and cheer on the stars.
“I’ve seen people laughing, smiling and joking, and there’s been camaraderie on and off the golf course,” said Rose. “I’ve been making new friends with some of these people that I’ve really looked up to, including Gary Player, Morgan Freeman and Yao Ming.
“That’s been the most memorable thing about this tournament, that and understanding all the great things that are being done at Mission Hills with the commitment to the game and commitment to growing golf in China, with the programmes that are being run to bring families together and to bring young children into the game, too.”
Rose was among some of the greats of the game to come to Mission Hills Haikou for the event, with their number including fellow Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter and Paul McGinley, as well as Major winners John Daly, Ian Woosnam, Darren Clarke and Rich Beem.
The Mission Hills World Celebrity Pro-Am tournament saw 24 elite professional golfers paired with celebrities over two rounds on Mission Hills Haikou’s signature Blackstone Course.
Proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund and Yao Ming Foundation.