Blog: Looking back at a magical 2016

Wed 28 Dec 2016

Blog: Looking back at a magical 2016

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Sentosa, Singapore, December 27: The Asian Tour's communications team, which has been travelling the length and breadth of the region to bring you the top golfing news, looks back at a fantastic 2016 season. Here's what they have to say.
By Serene Loh
Most Memorable Moment
The Kurmitola Golf Club in Dhaka is certainly home to one of the most enthusiastic crowds on the Asian Tour. When Thitiphun Chuayprakong sank his winning putt at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open, the local fans went wild. The soft-spoken Thitiphun was overwhelmed by the outpouring support in Bangladesh that week. The young Thai was swarmed by a fanatic crowd following his win but he gladly obliged to requests for selfies and autographs without showing any signs of impatience. He was a true winner indeed.
Thitiphun Chuayprakong of Thailand Thitiphun Chuayprakong of Thailand
Most Exciting Finish
It has to be the play-off duel between Chinese Taipei stalwart Lin Wen-tang and Thailand hotshot Pavit Tangkamolprasert at the Asian Development Tour’s Charming Yeangder ADT. It was a battle between the young and the old. Pavit birdied his closing three holes to force extra time with Lin and the duo went head to head in a thrilling duel until Pavit outplayed Lin with a birdie against a par on the fourth and final hole. After the first three play-off holes, Pavit’s countrymen ‘gave up’ supporting him at the 18th green as they have to rush to the airport to catch their flight home. Pavit, however, stayed patient and returned to the 18th tee with Lin. Pavit eventually claimed his fifth ADT title and Lin conceded defeat as he was unable to keep pace with the Thai towards the end of the battle. The veteran praised Pavit for his strong mental game.
Favourite Tournament
They were right to call it the most beautiful week in golf. I had a great time at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, which was the first tri-sanctioned event by the Asian, European and Sunshine Tours. Apart from the top-notch golf action that unfolded during the week, I will always remember the holiday isle for the sun and beaches, as well as its warm and friendly people.
Best Quote
“I talked a lot to my caddy who is my uncle. He made me feel comfortable. He doesn’t caddy for me regularly, only in the big events because I can’t make a profit if he caddies for me in the smaller events!” – Poom Saksansin after claiming his breakthrough win at the BNI Indonesian Masters presented by Zurich.
By Doyle De Costa, Manager, Communications
Most Memorable Moment
I can honestly tell you that everyone gathered on the 18th green at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters struggled to hold back the tears when Lu Wei-chih sank the winning putt. After going through a brain surgery to remove a non-malignant tumour in mid-2012, the popular player from Chinese Taipei never thought he would hold a golf club again as doctors warned him that even a sneeze would cause bleeding in his brain! But he battled like a true warrior and even though his fitness level was at an all-time low, his dedication and perseverance never wavered. While some might have thought Lu’s career was over, his family never doubted his abilities and stood by his side and cheered him on for 18 holes until he lifted the prestigious Mercuries Taiwan Masters trophy. You can’t beat that for an inspirational story in 2016!
Most Exciting Finish
Anirban Lahiri of India Anirban Lahiri of India
The 2016 Hero Indian Open was like a replay from last year only the outcome was different. On the final day we witnessed a showdown between S.S.P. Chawrasia and defending champion Anirban Lahiri. Just 12 months prior, the latter had pipped his countryman to the title on the first play-off hole but history did not repeat itself. After finishing second on four occasions in his National Open, Chawrasia finally claimed a popular victory at the Delhi Golf Club. He started the final day with a two-shot cushion but any lead at the tree-lined Delhi course is not safe. He was one-over after 10 holes and with Lahiri lurking, Chawrasia needed a huge lift to settle the nerves. A birdie on 13 eased the pressure and he cruised to a two-shot victory after hitting a sublime approach on the last hole to set up the winning birdie putt.
Favourite Tournament
It was a joy working at the CIMB Classic. The Malaysian crowd is very supportive of our Asian players and they were in full support of Anirban Lahiri, who had tasted victory in the country before. Sadly, Lahiri did not win the US$7 million event but it was a joy to watch our Order of Merit champion battle tooth-and-nail in his search for a first PGA Tour victory. The set-up at TPC Kuala Lumpur was spectacular and the after entertainment during the weekend made it a truly memorable week.
Best Quote
“Six years since the last one … My kids keep saying every time I walk out the door ‘hey dad, can you bring home a trophy? And I’ll say ‘I’ll try, I’ll try’ and this time I’ll take one home and I’ll get them to take it (the trophy) to school for show and tell. It’s going to be pretty cool.” – Marcus Fraser after winning the Maybank Championship Malaysia.
By Calvin Koh, Senior Manager, Communications
Most Memorable Moment
I always love a good underdog story and it was fantastic when that compelling tale unfolded right before me in my own backyard at the SMBC Singapore Open. The large galleries had all come to watch one man- former world number one Jordan Spieth. But like a good upset story, it took an unheralded Korean Younghan Song to rewrite the headlines when he held his nerves to pull off a one-shot triumph over Spieth and lift the iconic SMBC Singapore Open trophy. Like his namesake, Song was truly on song at the Sentosa Golf Club and it was certainly a joy to witness first-hand how David defeated Goliath!
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan Hideki Matsuyama of Japan
Most Exciting Finish
Everyone knows Asian golf has been on a rise for years. And when Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama took over the second round lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, I was certain he would win but by how many shots? I didn’t have a clue. Matsuyama had a three-shot lead heading into the final round but after racing out clear in his front-nine, I was hoping the man from the Land of the Rising Sun would go on to smash more records. After all, he Was going to become the first Asian player to win a World Golf Championship and also the youngest since Martin Kaymer. There was pure adrenaline rush when I watched him get out of trouble even after finding water on the 18. While he finished just one shot shy of Dustin Johnson’s record low total score in 2013, his heroics that week was enough to warm my heart as an Asian.
Favourite Tournament
The Shinhan Donghae Open was a fine example of how a golf tournament can be inclusive that excites and entertains fans of all ages. Apart from the top notch golf action on the course, there were activities galore for everyone, from the young to the old at the public exhibition area. From bouncy castle, kiddy rides to live music performances, everyone was kept entertained. It does help that I’m a big fan of all things Korean too.
Best Quote
Ian who? Malaysia’s Danny Chia, when asked about his Singles match-up against England’s Ian Poulter at the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM.
By Chuah Choo Chiang, Director, Communications
Most Memorable Moment
Sitting next to newly-crowned UBS Hong Kong Open champion Sam Brazel during his winner’s press conference was a personal highlight of the year for me. Sam was honest, real and truly authentic in sharing his feelings, joy and thoughts after his breakthrough triumph. As he reflected on his life’s journey, which included the unfortunate passing of his then-partner in 2009, Sam broke down and teared up as he remembered the people who stood by him during his difficult times. While waiting for the press to settle down in their seats, he was also very keen to look at the names on the prestigious trophy and wondered if Kel Nagle had won the Hong Kong Open previously. Kel was a close family friend of his current swing coach which brought him greater joy in winning his first Asian Tour title.
Sam Brazel of Australia Sam Brazel of Australia
Most Exciting Finish
This season’s Venetian Macao Open was probably one of the most dramatic that I’ve encountered in my years working on Tour. When Pavit Tangkamolprasert had looked like he was coasting towards a first Asian Tour victory, India’s Anirban Lahiri then produced a masterclass, sensationally shooting seven closing birdies on Sunday to force a play-off which Pavit eventually won on the first extra hole. Lahiri nearly holed out for eagle in regulation on the final hole which could have capped a great come-from-behind victory. The quality of golf that was produced that day by Lahiri and Pavit was truly mesmerizing!
Favourite Tournament
The UBS Hong Kong Open wins this hands-down. The tournament draws large and appreciative galleries every year, the Hong Kong Golf Club often provides the bacakdrop for drama especially on the final hole which is aptly called “The Ultimate” while the terrace is probably the best spot to hang out during the week as you get good F&B while watching the stars practice their putting from just across the walking path. The Hong Kong Golf Club also offers the best breakfast on Tour for sure.
Best Quote
“For the King, for the King,” by Thailand’s Pavit Tangkamolprasert after he defeated Anirban Lahiri at the Venetian Macao Open play-off during a difficult week for all Thais when the revered King of Thailand passed away.