{
    "title": "Li launches North American swing at Riviera",
    "image": "https:\/\/images.supersport.com\/2018\/2\/Li-Haotong-looks-180214G300.jpg",
    "body": "<p>\r\nChina's rising golf star Li Haotong may have had his most nerve-racking moment at the Genesis Open even before the first round tees off on Thursday \u2013 meeting tournament host Tiger Woods.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nThe 22-year-old Li became China's first men's golfer to break into the top 50 in the world rankings after he edged four-time major-winner Rory McIlroy at the Dubai Desert Classic in January.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nHe was awarded the last sponsor's invitation to the US PGA Tour's Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nLi got a chance to thank former world No 1 Woods when they met this week.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\"It's a lovely experience,\" Li, 22, said. \"He's the first guy to make me nervous on the Tour, pretty much my golfing hero. It's such a big honour to meet him.\"<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nMeeting the 14-time major champion may have given Li some butterflies, but everywhere else around the course Li is feeling pretty comfortable these days.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nEven going head-to-head with McIlroy in Dubai \u2013 where Li carded a three-under-par 69 on Sunday for a tournament-record total of 23-under par 265 \u2013 didn't rattle him.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\"The first few holes, I was very nervous,\" he said. \"But since I made my first birdie just everything (was) so comfortable and life (was) easier.\"<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nIt was Li's second win on the European Tour, following his victory at the 2016 China Open.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nHe also made waves at the Open Championship last year, where he carded a final round 63 for a share of third.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nHe's punched his ticket to all four of 2018's majors, starting with the Masters at Augusta National in April.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nThis week's tournament is the start of a North American swing for Li that will also include his first World Golf Championships event outside of China, the 2018 Mexico Championship in March, as he builds toward Augusta.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\"It's kind of like a dream come true,\" he said of the prospect of playing the Masters. So far he hasn't formulated any special plan for tackling the fabled course.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n\"I've got a couple experiences of majors, so I may just go there, play (it) like a regular event, get there Monday, Tuesday, just hopefully enjoy that week and wish I can play well down there.\"<\/p>",
    "blurb": "China's rising golf star Li Haotong may have had his most nerve-racking moment at the Genesis Open even before the first round tees off on Thursday \u2013 meeting tournament host Tiger Woods.",
    "date": "2018-02-14T06:15:35",
    "author": "",
    "credit": "AFP",
    "img_credit": "Li Haotong \u00a9 Getty Images",
    "category": "US PGA Tour",
    "videos": []
}