Tour dominance reinforces rise in stature

Fri 27 Mar 2015

Tour dominance reinforces rise in stature

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Sentosa, Singapore, March 27: From the majestic Swiss Alps to the historic Delhi Golf Club, stars from the Asian Tour have blazed a trail of glory to reinforce the rise of the game in the Far East.
In a spell-binding six-month run from September till February, Asian Tour members have won a magnificent five tournaments co-sanctioned with the European Tour in succession, a feat which has never been achieved before in the history of the game.
Korean-American David Lipsky started the ball rolling with a memorable victory at the Omega European Masters where he became the first Asian Tour member to triumph in the Swiss showpiece since it became jointly sanctioned in 2009.
Anirban Lahiri of India Anirban Lahiri of India
Australian Scott Hend emerged victorious in the Hong Kong Open in October, defeating Filipino Angelo Que in a play-off before Anirban Lahiri of India struck gold twice in February with landmark wins in the Maybank Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open sandwiching Aussie Andrew Dodt’s emotional victory at the inaugural True Thailand Classic presented by Black Mountain.
Asian Tour Chairman Kyi Hla Han, himself a former Asian number one, hailed the recent dominance by Asia’s elite golf stars.
“It has certainly been a fantastic run by our members in the co-sanctioned tournaments,” enthused Han.
“I believe the success of our players in the past few months has been very timely and proves Asian golf is heading in the right direction.
“We are very proud to see the likes of David Lipsky, Scott Hend, Anirban Lahiri and Andrew Dodt winning the co-sanctioned tournaments, which is a justification of the work that we have put in to grow the Asian Tour over the past decade.
“The Asian Tour is a rich melting pot of culture with players from around the world coming to the Far East to compete and excel in a competitive environment. We are witnessing a fantastic time for Asian golf now that we believe will continue to shape the global game.”
Since 1999 when the co-sanction programme began, a total of 86 tournaments have been jointly staged by the Asian and European Tours offering a lucrative US$170 million in total prize money for the players.
Scott Hend of Australia Scott Hend of Australia
Asian Tour members have won on 30 occasions, a proud record which Han believes will continue as playing standards continue to rise in the region.
At present, 15 Asian Tour members occupy positions in the top-200 of the Official World Golf Ranking with players from countries including India, Thailand, Malaysia, The Philippines, Bangladesh and China in the running to qualify for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year.
Han said: “Our honorary member K.J. Choi once said that ‘to be the best, you’ve got to play with the best’ and our members have taken up the challenge through the playing opportunities with Europe. Our players have learned to become better and competitive as we’ve seen through the recent stats.
“With the Olympic Games on the horizon, many of our members will start focussing on qualifying for Rio as it is another main goal of ours to have a very strong representation of Asian nations in Rio. We want to continue showing the world that Asian golf is strong and growing and the achievements of our members will be the best yardstick.”
Dodt, who cut his professional teeth on the Asian Tour before going on to win twice, has a soft spot on the Asian Tour and insists that playing in Asia has helped him grow in his career.
From being the top graduate at Qualifying School in 2012, Lipsky is grateful the Asian Tour has provided him with the platform to showcase his talents around the world.
He said: “I started out on the Asian Tour and I won there. It really developed me as a player and I’m still looking forward to playing out in Asia.”
Hend, regarded as one of the most successful international golfers on the Asian Tour where he has won six times, echoes the sentiments of many. “The Asian Tour has been a fantastic place for me to be in,” said the big-hitting Aussie.
Andrew Dodt of Australia Andrew Dodt of Australia
“It is a fantastic breeding ground for the young players and the middle aged players such as myself. Everyone wants to come out and forge a good living and play in good tournaments and try to move on to the next level. This is a great place to be and a place to play on.”
While the Asian Tour has produced its first Major winner in Y.E. Yang, who triumphed in the 2009 PGA Championship, a new breed of Asia’s young stars such as Lahiri is confident that another Asian Major champion will come sooner rather than later.
“It’s exciting times ahead and I’ll approach them in a similar manner. I’m trying to get better every day and will continue to work hard at improving my skills,” said the current Asian Tour number one.
“One of the main things is to gain the experience of playing in the Majors and WGCs, playing well in them and in different conditions. It’s all about learning as I go along and hopefully maybe I can get into the top-10 and vie for the number one spot,” said Lahiri, who is a seven-time Asian Tour winner.
Lahiri’s bold prediction will resonate well with South African legend Ernie Els, who is a four-time Major winner.
“It’s more than five years since Y.E. Yang (of Korea) claimed Asia’s first Major (in 2009) but my view is it won’t be that long again before someone from the Asian Tour wins another.
“There are so many good Asian players already winning on the PGA TOUR – guys like Sangmoon Bae, Hideki Matsuyama, Ryo Ishikawa and in addition, Anirban who is playing some fantastic golf and getting a taste of golf on the world stage,” said Els, who is an honorary member and international ambassador for the Asian Tour.
Ends.
About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include FENIX Golf (Official Apparel Supplier), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Sponsor), Oakley (Official Eyewear and Footwear Sponsor), PRG (Official Accessories Supplier), Srixon (Official Ball), Titleist (Official Web Partner) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf.