Kaufman Blog: Golden period for Asian golf

Wed 18 May 2016

Kaufman Blog: Golden period for Asian golf

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By Richard Kaufman, Asian Tour TV Commentator

Sometimes it’s easy to be caught up in the moment, to be swept away by the euphoria and lose perspective. But the question needs asking. How good have the players on the Asian Tour become?
It’s a difficult question to answer. You could say results speak for themselves. But it’s far too simplistic to say this is a golden period for Asian Tour players or whether the best is still another five years away or whether it’s just a good few months.
2016 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open: Day 4Bear in mind it was only a year ago that Asian Tour members or Asian players had won every co-sanctioned event from the Omega European Masters 2014 to last year’s Hero Indian Open.
Basically, it’s hard to quantify the facts. But there’s no getting away from certain things.
After experiencing some near misses on the Asian Tour Korea’s Jeunghun Wang, still only 20, showed what many knew would happen and became a winner.
While his victory in Morocco didn’t come as a surprise to most who have watched him play the last few years, to win in successive weeks on the European Tour takes enormous mental strength as well as talent.
And the doors those wins have opened up. Never mind saddling up at Wentworth, he can all but book a ticket for the Open at Troon and he’s getting closer to a trip to Rio for the Olympics.
Golf is game of confidence and belief. And I’m convinced when Wang saw Soomin Lee victorious in China, it would have just been the affirmation required. That if his fellow Korean and regular practice partner is good enough to do it, then so is he.
It’s not just the winners like S.S.P. Chawrasia and other regular Asian Tour players like Scott Hend troubling the winners’ circle that has been so impressive. But also the ability of others to contend so well.
Miguel Tabuena and now Siddikur Rahman have come mighty close. Who can forget that final round of 63 in Thailand by Piya Swangarunporn in Hua Hin at the True Thailand Classic?
And I’m sure there are many other Asian Tour regulars who have witnessed all this close hand and though to themselves… why not me next time!
Soomin Lee of Korea Soomin Lee of Korea
And all this off the back of a 2015 season where Anirban Lahiri, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee took top honours with five European Tour victories between them.
All three have had their focus shifted to America so far this year and that is another level to find. But they and others before them have paved the way for a new wave of Asian stars. Maybe I’m wrong but this time it seems as if the latest group of quality golfers from Asia is bigger in numbers.
Players like Ernie Els and Lee Westwood have been coming over to Asian Tour events in recent years and talked about the talent that’s here. And the proof is building. I’m not sure what happened in this year’s EurAsia Cup because in all honesty, Team Asia were completely out-played and made to look second best.
That heavy defeat showed there is still plenty of room for improvement. But it’s clear those three days in Malaysia haven’t translated to any kind of inferiority complex from the Asian Tour regulars in the co-sanctioned events so far in 2016.
The future looks bright. And the present doesn’t look too bad either, does it?
Ends