Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman’s Fortune Cookie Say…
By Stephanie Wei under Know Your Asians

Be generous. Future billions lie East.

With the most intriguing golf tournament ever in the history of Asia underway, it’s hard to look too far past the tight race for No. 1 and the action at Shenshan International, but some of the games biggest names believe China has the potential to yield more than just land for the growing upper class. The Palm Beach Post’s Edgar Thompson reports that Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, who (among other Westerners), both have offices and multiple ongoing projects in China, predict the men’s golf world order to sound a lot more similar to the women’s rankings in the foreseeable future.

Here’s Nicklaus, who currently has 14 courses under construction:

“I was asked on a trip over there about a year ago, ‘Will we ever see a Chinese golfer in the top 10 in the world?’ ” said Nicklaus, whose golf course design business is booming in Asia. “I wouldn’t a bit surprised to see five Asian players in the top 10 … in a fairly short period of time, 10 or 15 years.”

And the prophetic Norman:

“I truly believe in the next 20 years the East will take over the West with the domination of the game,” said former world No. 1 Greg Norman. “There’s no question about it.”

Surely in a country with 1.3 billion, there’s a dozen of potential Yao Mings. I mean, golfers don’t really have to deal with that whole height thing. And then there’s the athleticism factor. Obviously, golf requires a different set of athletic skills than basketball, which are more conducive to training than natural talent.

(Don’t confuse the quick ascent with the women’s game to the men’s, though — they’re not the same beat, but that’s for another time.)

In short, think about the development of golf in China like it was for the US in the ’80s and multiply that by at least three.

(Photo by Andy Wong/AP Photo)