XIAMEN, China, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- International touring pros have expressed their appreciation for Feng Shanshan's bronze medal performance at the Rio Olympics, saying that the World No. 12's result can only bode well for the future of golf - especially in China.
After shooting a final-round 69 for a 10-under 274 score in Brazil, Feng finished one stroke behind silver medalist Lydia Ko of New Zealand and six shots back of the gold medal winner, Inbee Park of South Korea.
Speaking during the Ladies European Tour's China swing that included tournaments in Xiamen and Sanya, rising Indian star Aditi Ashok, who finished 41st in the 60-player field in Rio, said golf was reinstated into the Olympics roster after a 112-year absence to reflect and promote the popularity of the sport all over the world.
"It's getting really big in China because ever since golf was in the Olympics we've got more tournaments in China," said the 18-year-old Bangalore native who turned professional earlier this year following a stellar amateur career.
"With Shanshan winning a medal now it's going to be much better for the other younger golfers who want to play golf as a profession."
With China home to about 500 golf clubs and India about 200, Ashok said her Olympic appearance, like Feng's in China, was a big deal back home and would help grow the sport.
"In India, it was big when I played in the Olympics, especially because I was women golfer playing. I wish I could have done better, finished maybe in the top five, top 10. It was still good for golf in India and it's a lot more popular for the younger kids in India and that's good."
Li Jiayun, who captured her second China LPGA Tour title with her victory at the Le Coq Sportif Beijing Ladies Classic in May, congratulated her fellow Guangdong native Feng on her Rio success, saying that the medal had huge implications for China golf.
"It was quite big. Everybody was encouraged and it gives us the feeling that our golf is getting better and better, and to approach maybe a higher level," said Li, who captained China to a team silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.
Li experienced the growing popularity of golf in China first hand when she arrived in Xiamen.
"I got recognized in the airport when I came here. The guy said 'are you playing professional golf?' I said 'yes, I did'. I said 'Do you play?' 'Oh no, I watch you on TV.' I was so surprised about that."
With Justin Rose winning the gold medal in the men's competition in Rio, British veteran Sophie Walker said the interest created for the sport had even raised the profile of golf in her country. After several top players, mainly men, had declined to appear at the Olympics because of the Zika scare, the England native said she liked the fact that women's game sent their best players.
"From my eyes, coming from Britain, I liked the fact that we took it really seriously, like the Chinese did and the Koreans. We sent our best players. The men got a gold medal and I think Charley (Hull) came sixth (equal seventh)," said the 32-year-old who was equal 13th in Xiamen.
"It's really good that we're in the Olympics. It gets us out to a new audience and you can't argue with the three medalists at the Olympics. They are probably the top three players in the world. So I'm really proud that the women took it seriously and I thought it was really good to watch. Well done Shanshan."