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Hong Kong Junior Open in review: Kho claims dramatic play-off win







The State of the Game in Vietnam



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HK Golfer Issue 115

September 2016

44 On the Cover:

On the Cover: Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan lit up the Olympic Golf Course with both her game and her spirit in Rio last month. Photo by IFG



34 | Notes from the Asian Tour

18 | Divots

I f it a in’t broke … don’t f i x it. The A sia n Tour ’s communications director discusses the professionals who have enjoyed stellar careers without having what could ever be described as a textbook swing. A case in point in American Jim Furyk – who last month broke the all-time scoring record on the PGA Tour with a round of 58. By Chuah Choo Chiang

40 | HK’s Kho Savours Junior Open Success

15-year-old Taichi Kho claimed the biggest title of his career to date with a thrilling play-off victory at The Hong Kong Golf Club last month. By The Editors

44 | Cover Story: Showing True Olympic Spirit

Golden girl Tiffany Chan, one of only three amateurs to qualify for Rio 2016, put in a remarkable performance to finish in 37th place at the Olympic Games and make Hong Kong proud. At the time of print the 22-year-old was heading to California to compete in the first stage of LPGA Tour Qualifying School. By The Editors

50 | “The Pebble Beach of Asia”

Olympic and reigning UBS Hong Kong Open champion Justin Rose praises Clearwater Bay ahead of PGA Tour China event. By The Editors

News and events from Hong Kong and the region. By The Editors

20 | In Focus

A pictorial review of the last 30 days from around the world. By The Editors

25 | Tee Time

An in-depth look at three of Rolex’s latest releases – the Explorer, the Datejust 41 and the Cellini. By The Editors

60 | Onward and Upward

A the state of the gamein Vietnam – where golf is growing, at least in terms of course construction, faster than anywhere else on the planet. By Paul Myers

70 | Final Shot

With nine-time major champion Gary Player, who discusses his work at The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau, his amazing travel experiences and his legendary fitness regime. Interview by Alex Jenkins

Daniel Wong

54 | Secrets of a Champion

40 12


Was Rory McIlroy always destined for glory? Possibly, but as the man himself explains, the hard work that goes on behind the scenes is not to be underestimated. By Neil Tappin HKGOLFER.COM

HK Golfer


Editor: Michael Collier Contributing Editors: Dr Milton Wayne, Faye Glasgow, John Bruce, Nathan Goulding, Keith McLaren, Paul Jansen, Evan Rast, Lucy Jenkins, Robin Lynam. Art Director: Derek Hannah Photo Editor: Daniel Wong Online Editor: Patrick Skinner Administration Manager Cindy Kwok Publisher: Charles McLaughlin Published by:

TIMES INTERNATIONAL CREATION Times International Creation Limited 10B Lockhart Centre 301-307 Lockhart Road Hong Kong Phone: +852 3590-4153 Fax: +852 3590-4533

60 D E PA R T M E N T S 16 Mailbag 18 Divots 20 Global Focus 22 Olympic Focus 25 Clubhouse 38 Around the HKGA 40 The Hong Kong Junior Open

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HK GOLFER is published by Times International Creation, 10B Lockhart Centre, 301-307 Lockhart Road, Hong Kong. HK GOLFER is published monthly © 2016 by Times International Creation. Published in Hong Kong. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is strictly prohibited. PRINTED IN HONG KONG. 14



HK Golfer Mailbag Tiffany’s travelling supporters were among the most creative fans at the Rio golf events

Rio Olympics: Terrific Tiffany I am truly amazed by Tiffany Chan’s performance at the Rio Olympics. As she was one of only three amateurs to qualify for the women’s golf competition, I don’t admitting I was worried she would end up propping up the leader board; that the occasion, competing against such world-class professionals, would get to her and she would be unable to produce her best. Well, I’m glad I was proved wrong! To finish in 37th place in the elite field of 60 was a remarkable achievement. I was astonished to see her up among the leaders on day one after she made a fast start to her round with two early birdies. Shamefully, when looking for her name, I had started my search at the bottom of the standings. While Tiffany clearly had problems with the 11th hole during the week, which she double-bogeyed twice, she was certainly not out of her depth. Far from it. Indeed, the way she finished – a 69, her best round of the week – tells you a WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Have something to say about an article in HK Golfer or a topic affecting golf in our area? Send your thoughts and comments to letters@hkgolfer. com. Please also include your address, contact number, email and HKGA #. The winner of the best letter (the first one that appears on the page) will receive a bottle of Champagne Deutz courtesy of Montrose Fine Wines.



lot. There she was, on the biggest sporting stage imaginable, playing with two seasoned and accomplished professionals – Gwladys Nocera and Shiho Oyama – who together have won more than 30 events, and she managed to beat both with ease. This, I believe, tells you a lot about Tiffany. Not only does she have the very obvious technical ability to succeed, but she also has the mental fortitude to compete at the highest level. I am incredibly impressed. As the last issue of this magazine highlighted, the attention Tiffany has received from the local Hong Kong media has been both surprising and overwhelming. She has been well and truly put in the spotlight. But the way she handled being thrust into the position of Hong Kong’s golfing ambassador has been superb. The pressure of being Hong Kong’s sole representative must surely have been significant. But apparently not. Seemingly she wasn’t fazed by the situation and never lost her focus on what she was aiming to achieve. For that alone she deserves a great deal of credit. Thanks to the Olympics, interest in Tiffany within Hong Kong – from inside and outside the golfing community – is only going to grow. The impact her achievements are going to have are undoubtedly going to be positive in helping to develop the game here, but I hope she doesn’t feel under too much strain in terms of carrying her city’s aspirations going forward. From what I’ve seen so far, it doesn’t seem likely. Best of luck Tiffany. Name and address withheld


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Faldo Series Hong Kong Championship Glory for Artigolle Front and centre: Yannick Artigolle was consistency personified over the three days

Daniel Wong

Yannick Artigolle repelled a spirited late charge from defending champion Leon D’Souza to claim victory in the Faldo Series Hong Kong Championship in early August. The 16-year-old Artigolle was a model of consistency as he fired rounds of 71, 70 and 71 at the Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Course in what was the seventh leg of the record-breaking 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia season. His three-day aggregate of 212 gave him a four-stroke success from D’Souza, who closed with a scintillating 64, one of the best rounds ever recorded at Kau Sai Chau’s Gary Player-designed North Course. It was not quite enough, however, to repair the damage that was inflicted by his uncharacteristically error-strewn opening-round 80, during which he felt the effects of a return journey from Palm Springs in the United States where he finished second in his age group at the Future Champions Golf World Championship. Nonetheless, thanks to that late surge, D’Souza took second place overall and can look forward to flying the flag for Hong Kong in the 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be held at Laguna Lang Co in Vietnam next March. Having topped the standings in the Boys’ Under-18 category at the 10th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final at Mission Hills China, D’Souza will now set his sights on mounting a challenge for the overall title. Joining D’Souza and Artigolle at the award-winning Nick Faldo-designed course in Danang will be Kho Tai-chi (Boys’ Under-16 champion), Andrea Au Chor-kiu (Girls’ Under-21 champion) and Hu Jing (Girls’ Under-16 champion). Thanks to his Faldo Series win, Hong Kong-born Artigolle, playing off a handicap index of 1.2, is likely to rise into the top-three in the Hong Kong 18


Golf Association’s HSBC Junior Order of Merit. It was the Girls’ Under-21 category that provided the closest contest with Au, Deedee Wong Hei-nam and Emily Leung involved in an intriguing three-way tussle. Wong entered the final round with a fiveshot advantage from Leung and a seven-stroke cushion from Au. But while Wong and Leung struggled to rounds of 83 and 80 respectively, Au held her nerve to sign for a 76 and secure victory on a count back.  


Boys’ Under-21: 212 – Yannick Artigolle (7170-71). 216 – Leon D’Souza (80-72-64). 219 – Isaac Lam (72-73-74). Boys’ Under 16: 218 – Kho Tai-chi (75-73-70). 224 – Lou Tan Chi-hin (81-71-72). 246 – Frederic Khounphachansy (85-83-78); Derek Yang (87-79-80).  Girls’ Under-21: 235 – Andrea Au Chor-kiu (79-80-76); Deedee Wong Heinam (73-79-83). 237 – Emily Leung (78-7980). Girls’ Under-16: 229 – Hu Jing (75-7777). 230 – Zhou Hong-hong (77-76-77). 234 – Inara Diti Sharma (79-76-79). HKGOLFER.COM


Govt Backs UBS HK Open to the Tune of HK$15 Million 2015 UBS Hong Kong Open champion Justin Rose

Daniel Wong

The Government announced last month that the Mega Events Fund (MEF) Assessment Committee (AS) has earmarked a maximum of HK$15 million to support the UBS Hong Kong Open to be held in December 2016 under the sixth round of applications under the Tier-2 Scheme. “After careful deliberation, the MEF AC has earmarked a maximum of $15 million to support the UBS Hong Kong Open. The organisers expect that about 38,000 visitors and locals will participate in this mega event. The MEF AC considers that this mega event will help enhance Hong Kong’s international profile and reinforce the city’s status as the events capital of Asia. It will add colour and vibrancy to Hong Kong and attract more visitors to our city,” a government spokesman said. The UBS Hong Kong Open is jointly organised by the Hong Kong Golf Association and the Hong Kong Golf Club, and will be held at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling from 11-18 December. With the support of the MEF, this prestigious international golf tournament will have an enhanced line-up with the participation of the world’s top professional golfers, and will be broadcast around the world. The organisers will carry out promotional activities and arrange opportunities for participating players to promote Hong Kong. “When announcing the result of the sixth round of applications under the Tier-2 Scheme in May this year, it was mentioned that the MEF AC was discussing the relevant funding terms and conditions with the organisers of two mega events. While the UBS Hong Kong Open is one of the concerned events, the organiser of the other event has subsequently withdrawn its application,” the government spokesman added.

Global Focus The Drinks Are on Fitz One long drive earned one long year’s worth of beer for Matthew Fitzpatrick last month. The 21-year-old Englishman stands just 5-foot-9 and weighs little more than 150 lbs, but he mashed a drive 330 yards on the ninth hole at the Czech Masters during the final round. In claiming the longest drive of the day, Fitzpatrick won a year’s supply of Pilsner Urquell. But that wasn’t all. Fitzpatrick’s top-five finish earned him an automatic bid onto the 2016 European Ryder Cup team, so he won’t be sweating the captain’s picks made by Darren Clarke in the coming weeks. Photo by AFP / Getty Images

Olympic Focus The Boys in Brazil Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson of Team USA visited the set of the Today show on Copacabana Beach in Rio last month after competing in the men’s Olympic golf competition, which marked golf’s return to the Summer Games for the first time since 1904. While neither player found optimum form and were never in contention (Watson finished in eighth place; Fowler ended up in 37th spot), their teammate Matt Kuchar produced a best-of-the-week 63 in the final-round to scoop the bronze medal. Reigning UBS Hong Kong Open champion Justin Rose earned the gold following a brilliant final-day duel with Open winner Henrik Stenson, who had to settle for silver. Photo by International Golf Federation

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Away from the Fairways | TEE TIME





The Explorer is emblematic of the privileged relationship that has always bound Rolex and exploration. A pioneering spirit prompted Rolex, in the 1930s, to equip numerous Himalayan expeditions with watches. Their observations had a direct impact on the development of the Oyster and the quest for greater precision, robustness and reliability. On 29 May 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach Everest’s 8,848-metre summit. This remarkable human adventure also served to reinforce the reputation of the Oyster watches that accompanied the expedition. The Oyster Perpetual Explorer, launched in 1953 in the wake of the successful ascent of the world’s highest mountain, soon achieved iconic status. The Explorer’s Oyster case, guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet), is a paragon of robustness. Its characteristically shaped middle case is crafted from a solid The Explorer’s block of particularly Oyster case, co r ro si o n - re sis t a nt 904L steel. The guaranteed f lu te d c as e b a ck is waterproof to hermetically screwed a depth of 100 down with a special metres (330 feet), tool that allows only Ro le x watchmaker s is a paragon of to access the robustness. movement. Fit ted w i t h t h e Tw i n l o c k double waterproofness system, the winding crown screws down securely against the case. The crystal is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire and the waterproof Oyster case provides optimum protection for the Explorer’s high-precision movement. The Explorer is equipped with calibre 3132, a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. Its architecture, manufacturing quality and innovative features make it singularly precise and reliable. The oscillator, the true heart of the watch, has a blue Parachrom hairspring patented and manufactured by Rolex in an exclusive alloy. Insensitive to magnetic fields, The Explorer is equipped with the Parachrom hairspring offers great stability calibre 3132, a self-winding in the face of temperature variations and mechanical movement entirely remains up to 10 times more precise than a developed and manufactured traditional hairspring in case of shocks. by Rolex. Its architecture, It is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring manufacturing quality and its regularity in any position. The oscillator is innovative features make it singularly precise and reliable held firmly in place by a height-adjustable 26



The Datejust's classic form never gets old

traversing bridge and is fitted between high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, developed and patented by Rolex, that provide 50 per cent greater resistance to shocks. Calibre 3132 is equipped with a self-winding module via a Perpetual rotor and offers a power reserve of approximately 48 hours.


Rolex’s Datejust is the archetype of the classic watch thanks to functions and aesthetics that never go out of fashion. Launched in 1945, it was the first self-winding waterproof chronometer wristwatch to display the date in a window at 3 o’clock on the dial, and consolidated all the major innovations that Rolex had contributed to the modern wristwatch until then. Aesthetically, the Datejust has spanned eras while retaining the enduring codes that today still make it one of the most recognized and recognizable of watches. Rolesor, the combination of gold and steel on a Rolex watch, has been a signature feature of the brand since 1933, when the name was registered. It is an auspicious meeting of two metals: one, noble and precious, attractive for its lustre and stability; the other, highly resistant, known for its strength and reliability. All of these qualities perfectly mirror the elegance and performance that come together in a Rolex watch. The Rolesor concept is simple: the bezel, the winding crown, as well as the centre bracelet links are made of 18 ct yellow or Everose (Rolex’s HKGOLFER.COM



exclusive patented pink gold alloy) gold; the middle case and the outer links of the bracelet are made of 904L steel. Introduced on the Datejust in 1948, Rolesor contributed largely to the legendary status of this wristwatch. The new Rolesor Datejust 41 is available on an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. Both bracelets, combining 904L steel and 18 ct gold, benefit from the new concealed attachment beneath the bezel, which ensures seamless visual continuity between the bracelet and case. They are equipped with a folding Oysterclasp and also feature the ingenious Rolex-patented Easylink rapid extension system that allows the wearer to easily increase the bracelet length by approximately 5 mm, for additional comfort in any circumstance.

The Cellini Time celebrates traditional excellence


The Cellini collection celebrates the eternal elegance of traditional timepieces with a contemporary touch. The essence of a timeless classic, the Cellini Time displays simply the hours, minutes and seconds, as if nothing but the present were of importance. The Cellini Date adds a date display suf f use d with ele gance, t r a d i t i o n a n d p o e t r y, Rolesor, the showing on a single dial the combination of gold current day, the days gone by and the days to come. and steel on a Rolex The Cellini Dual Time, with watch, has been a its simultaneous display of signature feature of the time here and the time elsewhere, grants its wearers the brand since 1933. the gift of temporal ubiquity. All the Cellini mo dels are covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015. This exclusive designation testifies that the watches have successfully undergone a series of tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories according to its own criteria, which exceed watchmaking norms and standards. The cer tification applies to the fully assembled watch, after casing the movement, guaranteeing superlative performance on the wrist in terms of precision, power reserve, water pro of ness and self- winding. T he precision of a Rolex Superlative Chronometer after casing is of the order of −2/+2 seconds per day, or more than twice that required of an official chronometer. The Superlative Chronometer status is symbolized by the green seal that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international five-year guarantee. 28


All the Cellini models are covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015


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Jim Furyk has a swing of all his own – and a record-breaking round of 58 to match 34


If It


Broke ... … don’t fix it. Chuah Choo Chiang on the success of the unorthodox swingers. Photography by AFP



Golf analyst David Feherty described Furyk’s swing like “an octopus falling out of a tree” which funnily enough is quite an apt description.


Clockwise from top: Furyk's sensational scorecard; Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand has more Asian Tour titles to his name than any other player; Ian BakerFinch's form deteriorated after he decided to make wholesale changes to his swing 36


im Furyk’s historic 58 on the PGA Tour in August was truly an advert for golf’s non-purist – that you can swing it ugly, still play top golf and make your millions. The likeable American produced an astounding 10 birdies and one eagle during the final day of the Travelers Championship to post the lowest ever number in a PGA Tour event. In fact, the veteran is one of six who have shot 59s in America, previously regarded as golf’s magic number. The irony of Furyk’s magical feat is that not many would have expected a low score from a guy whose swing is unorthodox and right smack against what every golf instructor would teach.  Golf analyst David Feherty described Furyk’s swing like “an octopus falling out of a tree” which funnily enough is quite an apt description.  But like the old saying “Drive for Show and Putt for Dough”, golfing fortunes often rely on other factors and in Furyk’s instance, his success is down to his ability to consistently repeat his unique and loopy golf swing, not matter how terrible it may look.

His one and only coach is father, Mike, who had a big hand in junior’s unprecedented feat. A day after shooting an uneventful 72, the golfer hit the range, got his caddie to video a few swings and shared it with his old man. Jim reckoned his back swing had become longer-than-usual after playing at a long Baltusrol course for the PGA Championship and it led to his upper and lower body getting out of sync. Dad confirmed the issue and the fix was only 58 strokes required in his next 18 holes.  While it is every aspiring golfer’s dream to swing it like Jason Day or Rory McIlroy, Furyk is living proof that you can enjoy success by doing it differently. The 45-yearold is now a celebrated 17-time PGA Tour champion, holds one Major victory at the 2003 U.S. Open and has nearly US$67 million in earnings which ranks him fourth in the career money list in the U.S.  Over on this side of the pond, one of the Asian Tour’s most successful golfers is Thaworn Wiratchant and like Furyk, the veteran Thai also possesses one of the most unique golf swings in the game.  Thaworn’s backswing is long and overHKGOLFER.COM

exaggerated, and he creates a distinctive “chicken wing” – a term given to golfers whose right elbow expands away from his upper body. Modern-day golf teachers would cringe at his technique but the 49-year-old holds the most victories on the Asian Tour with 18 titles and has also won the prestigious Order of Merit twice. Years back, a golf coach tried to teach Thaworn “the correct way” to swing it but the Thai started to hit shanks and promptly reverted back to his old ways!  China’s Liang Wen-chong is another leading Asian star with his own unique game that resembled a baseball swing during his early days as a pro. It has worked wonders too with three victories on the Asian Tour, one in Japan and also the Order of Merit title in 2007. Liang is also one of six golfers to have shot a 60, which is the lowest 18-hole score on the Asian Tour. He worked for many years with Australian coach Kel Llewellyn who only served to enhance whatever natural ability the Chinese had.  In the history of this great game, there have been well documented tales of leading golfers falling from grace after seeking to refine their games or reconstruct their swings after a winning breakthrough.  Ian Baker-Finch is one such sad story. After winning The Open Championship in 1991, it seemed like the world was at his feet but a combination of factors, including his desire to hit the ball longer, meant he kept tinkering with his game.  Soon enough, he was struck by “Paralysis by analysis”, a phrase coined by Gary Player while renowned golf guru David Leadbetter chipped in by saying: “Ian needed just one pill, and instead he took the whole bottle.”  At his lowest ebb, Baker-Finch snaphooked his opening drive at the 1995 Open Championship in St Andrews so far left that his ball rolled across the first and 18th fairways and out of bounds. It was apparently the only time that a golfer, either amateur or professional, had done so with his wayward shot going 170 yards dead left.   Years later, Finch, now a successful golf commentator in America, ruefully said: “My muscles have no memory of that old swing. It’s gone forever.”  Golf’s fickleness and a golfer’s obsession to find the perfect golf swing pose a real danger to those seeking immortality, as show in Baker-Finch’s unfortunate career nose-dive.  Reigning Asian Tour number one Anirban Lahiri of India, whose swing is not quite the most text-book of swings, probably describes it best when he explained why he opted to HKGOLFER.COM

work with coach Vijay Divecha. “I saw a few coaches before going to him. The others all told me to tear down my swing but Vijay never wanted me to copy a swing. He told me to keep my natural abilities but put my fundamentals in place. He didn’t want to teach me something that I am not,” said Lahiri.  Like, they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You just need to oil it. HK GOLFER・SEP 2016


CEO Tom Phillips to Step Down at Year’s End Tom Phillips joined the HKGA in 2013 after heading up Nick Faldo's pioneering youth development programme, the Faldo Series

Daniel Wong

The HKGA has announced that its Chief Executive Officer, Tom Phillips, will step down from his position at the end of 2016. During the remaining months of his tenure, Phillips will work with the HKGA’s Executive Committee to appoint a replacement and spend time working with that person to prepare him or her for the role. HKGA President, Mark Chan commented: “Tom has done an outstanding job for the HKGA and helped us to achieve so much during his three years in charge.  Not only has he turned around the finances of the HKGA to a position of stability, he has also changed the face of the HKGA in terms of our brand, our communications and our international reputation.” Chan added:  “Furthermore, under Tom’s leadership, the HKGA has been boosted with our new HSBC Golf For Schools initiative; a new commercial programme supported by partners including HSBC and Mercedes-Benz; a new 38


G H I N ha nd icappi ng system a nd benef it s prog ra m me which has topped 10,000 subscribers for the first time; new international events in Hong Kong, including the 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship; and an improved elite training programme in conjunction with the Hong Kong Sports Institute that has played a part in the success of our first ever golfing Olympian, Tiffany Chan.” “ We w i l l be sad to lose Tom but we appreciate h is commitment to helping us find a replacement between now and the end of the year and we wish him all the best in the future,” concluded Chan. Phillips said: “I have been hugely honoured to lead the HKGA but I feel the time is right to go out on a high and pursue new projects.  I am incredibly proud of the results that we as a team have achieved at the HKGA over the past three years.  I believe the organisation is now in a much stronger position to move forward and continue growing golf in Hong Kong.” HKGOLFER.COM

Taichi Kho will experience the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai later this year thanks to his Fanling victory








Junior Open Success 15-year-old defeats Japanese opponent in tense – and dramatic – play-off victory at Fanling.


ong Kong’s Taichi Kho clinched his national Junior Open on the third extra hole of a suddendeath play-off, capping a dramatic final day at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling on 15 August. As the leading local player, Kho will also experience the World Golf ChampionshipHSBC Champions in Shanghai later this year, courtesy of the Hong Kong Golf Association’s Exclusive Banking Partner, HSBC. Earlier, the 15-year-old had held his nerve on the 54th and final hole of regulation play, sinking a 4ft par putt to shoot a brilliant twounder 68 and finish tied with Ryota Nakao of Japan on a total of 212. Kho’s compatriot Lou Tan was also in the mix, having stormed up the leader board with a final-round 67 on the New Course at The Hong Kong Golf Club, but ultimately he fell one short on 213. The pair of Kho and Nakao could not be separated over the first two play-off holes but the Hong Kong national team player needed only a tap-in putt for par on the third extra hole to win his first Hong Kong Junior Open title. In doing so, he topped a record field that featured 105


Photography by Daniel Wong

Hong Kong's Virginie Ding Ning Li of the

HKGA with Kho and Queenie Lai



Overall girls' champ Kan Bunnabodee

Ryota Nakao

All the prize winners

“This week has been amazing – not just winning but meeting so many players from different countries and making new friends" – Taichi Kho junior golfers, 40 of whom were from overseas. The 46th edition of the championship also featured on the World Amateur Golf Rankings for the first time. “This week has been amazing – not just winning but meeting so many players from different countries and making new friends,” said Kho. “I was proud of the way I parred the last two holes and then kept my focus in the play off.”  “I can’t wait to go to the HSBC Champions,” added Kho.  “I heard from Leon [D’Souza, last year’s champion] that it was an awesome experience so I’m going to make the most of every minute!”  Thailand’s Kan Bunnabodee, 14, was crowned girls’ champion, finishing with a oneover 73 for a three-round total of 220.  Virginie Ding was Hong Kong’s leading girl, finishing in a three-way tie for second on 225. The leading local girl in the 15-17 age division was Queenie Lai, so she will join Kho for the final two days of the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club on October 29 and 30. There they will get an inside-theropes look at how a World Golf Championship event is staged and be treated to a coaching clinic with one of the world’s top golfers. On the Monday following the final round they will then have the opportunity to play on the tournament course in a match against their peers from the CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Programme. The HKGA team won the inaugural edition of the match in 2015.


Overall boys: 212 – Taichi Kho (HKG) 71 73 68, Ryota Nakao (JPN) 75 70 67; 213 – Lou Tan (HKG) 72-74-67; 216 – Aticom Sookvaree (THA) 76-70-70, Varuth Khachonkittisakul (THA) 73-71-72; 217 – Warut Wongrungroj (THA) 72-76-69; 218 – Thitipat Lem (THA) 72-71-75; 219 – Isaac Lam (HKG) 78 73 68. Overall girls: 220 – Kan Bunnabodee (THA) 7374-73; 225 – Jiye Ham (THA) 72-83-70, Virginie Ding (HKG) 74-78-73, Chou Tzu-Yu (TPE) 7572-78; 227 – Chou Yi-Ting (TPE) 74-78-75; 229 – Queenie Lai Ying-Tung (HKG) 75-75-79; 232 – Panchalika Arphamongkol (THA) 76-78-78; 234 – Watchaneeporn Khiawsang (THA) 82-76-76.




Varuth Khachonkittisakul

Yannick Artigolle

Chou Tzu-Yu

Jolie Wong


Aticom Sookvaree

Chloe Chan







Showing True

Olympic Spirit Golden girl Tiffany Chan, one of only three amateur golfers to qualify for Rio 2016, put in a performance that made Hong Kong proud.

Tiffany Chan hits the first-ever tee shot by a Hong Kong golfer in the Olympic Games in Rio last month HKGOLFER.COM



Clockwise: Tiffany acknowledges the galleries during round two of the women’s golf event; Tiffany closed with a fine 69 to finish the event in 37th place; women’s golf was last seen at the Summer Games in 1900; Tiffany’s strong iron play was a highlight of her week


ong Kong’s first golfing Olympian, amateur Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching, says performing in Rio has boosted her confidence in her abilities and that she would like nothing more than to qualify for the Tokyo Games in four years’ time. Chan saved her best for last in the final round of the women’s golf competition in Rio to finish in 37th place in the standings. The 22-year-old, a product of the Hong Kong Golf Association’s junior development programme and one of only three amateurs in the elite field, offset four bogeys with six birdies and signed for a four round total of 288 (four-over-par). Seven-time major winner Inbee Park scooped the gold medal – the first awarded for women’s golf in 112 years – following a brilliant 66 to win by five strokes, while world number one Lydia Ko earned the silver. China’s Feng Shanshan, who played a practice round with Chan earlier in the week, took home the bronze medal. Starting at the 10th on the last day, Chan




“I grew in confidence as the tournament went on and the experience has been one I’ll never forget – playing on the same stage as the world’s best players, in front of so many fans, has been simply amazing.” outscored her playing partners – former Ladies European Tour Order of Merit winner Gwladys Nocera of France and Japanese veteran Shiho Oyama – thanks to a sensational performance down the closing stretch. Despite three bogeys in her opening four holes, the University of Southern California junior roared back by playing near flawless golf to close with her two-under 69. Chan, who won the Hong Kong Ladies Open in June to catapult her into Olympic reckoning, said: “It’s been an unbelievable week, and to finish with my best round of the event on the last day was very satisfying. My goal was to finish in the top-40, so I’m very happy to have been able to achieve that. “I grew in confidence as the tournament went on and the experience has been one I’ll never forget – playing on the same stage as the world’s best players, in front of so many fans, has been simply amazing. “ I’m going to be trying my hardest to make sure I get to play in the Olympics again, hopefully in Tokyo in 2020.” The former Diocesan Girls’ School student, HKGOLFER.COM



Tiffany received a rousing reception from the galleries on the first tee in round one

“I’ve been playing well and I have confidence and belief in what I’m trying to achieve. Representing Hong Kong at the Olympics has been an honour … I’ve never experienced anything like it.” FINAL STANDINGS



Inbee Park


66 66 70 66



Lydia Ko

New Zealand

69 70 65 69



Feng Shanshan


70 67 68 69



Harukyo Nomura


69 69 72 65


Stacy Lewis

United States

70 63 76 66


Hee Young Yang


73 65 70 67



Brooke Henderson


70 64 75 67


Minjee Lee


69 67 73 67


Charley Hull

Great Britain

68 66 74 68



Suzann Pettersen


71 69 69 68





71 75 73 69



who had Hong Kong international Steven Lam Tszfung on caddying duties during in Brazil, added:. “I’ve learnt a lot about myself and my game during the whole Olympic period– during the qualifying period and then being in Rio and competing. “I’ve been playing well and I have confidence and belief in what I’m trying to achieve. Representing Hong Kong at the Olympics has been an honour … I’ve never experienced anything like it.” Mark Chan, President of the Hong Kong Golf Association, said: “Tiffany has made Hong Kong extremely proud. She performed incredibly well on a difficult golf course and has proved to be a wonderful ambassador for Hong Kong golf. She has played in professional events before but never against players of this quality. To do as well as she has done was both remarkable and fantastic – it proves she can compete with the very best in the game. “The whole team – including her caddie, Steven, National Coach Brad Schadewitz and her friends and family– have been a really calming influence on her and made her feel at ease. “The effect her achievements will have on Hong Kong golf is very positive. It’s a very exciting time for both her and the game itself.” HKGOLFER.COM

The Tiffany Fan Club were out in force on the final day

The specially-built Olympic Golf Course featured wildlife aplenty …

This snake found itself at the centre of attention by the side of the first tee on day one

Tiffany plays a pitch during the windy third round






Pebble Beach of

Asia” Courtesy of The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club

Olympic and reigning UBS Hong Kong Open champion Justin Rose praises Clearwater Bay ahead of PGA Tour China event.




Seaside splendour: The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club benefitted from a 2006 remodelling by the Australia-based design firm Thomson Perrett HKGOLFER.COM



International Golf Federation (Olympics); AFP (Dou)

O Clockwise from top: Justin Rose holes the winning putt in Rio; with fellow medalists Henrik Stenson (silver) and Matt Kuchar (bronze); rising Chinese star Dou Zecheng 52


lympic champion Justin Rose called The Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club ‘the Pebble Beach of Asia’ as he spoke about what PGA Tour China Series players could expect at the inaugural Clearwater Bay Open from November 3-6. The popular Englishman visited Clearwater Bay in 2011 to participate in a corporate event and recently recalled his impressions of one of Asia-Pacific’s most spectacular courses. “Clearwater Bay is right on the ocean and it’s kind of like the Pebble Beach of Asia. The views are dramatic,” said Rose, in reference to the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Links layout in California that has hosted five US Opens, a PGA Championship and the PGA TOUR’s annual Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Winner of the UBS Hong Kong Open last October, Rose says the city holds a special place in his heart and that PGA Tour China players visiting for the first time will enjoy a special week practising and playing at Clearwater Bay. “The course sits within one of my favourite cities in the world, so it’s definitely going to be a fun venue for the guys,” said Rose, who enjoyed global exposure last month when he won the first Olympics golf competition since 1904.

“You feel like you’re a long way away from the city, even though you’re probably only a 30-minute drive. It’s nice to feel like you’re away from the bright lights and playing golf in a very dramatic, natural golfing landscape, sort of links style.” The Clearwater Bay Open marks the first PGA Tour China event outside mainland China, so the majority of the 120-player field will be new to the layout, which was redesigned by Thomson Perrett in 2006. Rose, 36, said he expects competitors to face some tough tests as well as spectacular scenery at the RMB1.2 million event. “It’s definitely a tricky golf course. Seaside courses differ from landlocked courses because of the conditions, as you’re a bit more exposed to the wind and the elements, so controlling your ball flight is a premium,” Rose said. “But again, if you get a flat, calm day, you need to completely change your mind-set. A designer will typically design a course with the prevailing wind in mind, so if you get a wind that’s opposite to that, the course can play a little funky at times and you can get drivable par fours and stuff like that. “It’s about being aggressive when you need to be and staying out of trouble. Obviously the ball tends to roll a little more so it’s about allowing for all of those little differences.” HKGOLFER.COM

“The course sits within one of my favourite cities in the world, so it’s definitely going to be a fun venue for the guys” DOU ZECHENG IN POLE POSITION Dou Zecheng is likely to be among the favourites at the Clearwater Bay Open so don’t miss your chance to see this fast-rising talent in action. Dou, who is only 19, was the runaway leader in this year’s Order of Merit before the PGA Tour China Series resumed action at the beginning of September. The young Chinese star won three of the first six events of the year and moved up the Official World Golf Ranking to become China’s No. 3 player ahead of the Olympics, just missing out on a spot at Rio 2016 behind Wu Ashun and Li Haotong.





With four major victories to his name by the age of 27, Rory McIlroy is well on track to better Nick Faldo’s haul of six titles and become Britain’s most successful golfer of all time

Secrets of a

Champion Was Rory McIlroy always destined for glory? Possibly, but as the man himself explains, the hard work that goes on behind the scenes is not to be underestimated, writes Neil Tappin. Photography by AFP / Getty Images




he first time I encountered Rory McIlroy was ten years ago at the 2006 Dubai Desert Classic. It was dusk and, as the desert sun was setting, we were both stood outside the clubhouse waiting for a lift. I was in my second year as a journalist and Rory was, unbeknown to me, competing in the tournament. After a short period one of the players’ courtesy cars pulled up and I was surprised to see the 16-year-old jump in. The following day I asked around about the teenager competing in the Desert Classic and the response was just about the same every time. “That’s Rory McIlroy,” they told me. “He’s incredibly talented.” This was, and to a certain extent still is, the narrative surrounding McIlroy. You will struggle to find a single article about the Northern Irishman that does not reference his prodigious talent. This, of course, has been fuelled by fabled stories from his past, such as the course-record 61 he shot at the brutally hard Royal Portrush in the 2005 North of Ireland Amateur. And then there’s the golf swing. It’s the golfing equivalent of a Federer backhand or a Cruyff turn. What’s more, to the untrained eye, it seems to have barely changed from those early days. Rory McIlroy was born to play golf. Simple.



Well, perhaps that doesn’t tell the whole story. When you watch an elite-level sportsman in action, what you see is the finished article. The hours of practice, the repetitions, the gym time, the equipment that has been perfectly dialled in, the diet – all of these things combine to create something that appears almost superhuman. But does this same theory apply to McIlroy, the man who is always held up as the most talented of his generation? Do people underestimate how hard he works at his game? “I think they do,” he says. “I guess it’s hard to put it across to people sometimes because all they see is us on the golf course. But even as a teenager and turning pro, I spent so much time practising and putting. Then you realise when you turn pro you almost need to take it to another level again and add certain areas to your game. But I don’t like to say I work hard because going and spending the whole day on the driving range or in the gym isn’t hard work to some people. I do spend a lot of time at it. You’re born with a certain talent, but you need to work as hard as you possibly can to turn that talent into something more.” Aside from his rising Major count, the evidence of all this hard work can be most clearly seen in McIlroy’s changing physique. When he arrived on the world scene, he looked like any other active British teenager partial to a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar after a round of golf. He wasn’t overweight, but he was far from the athlete he has become. The key moment came late in 2010 when problems with his back caused him to seek the help of Steve McGregor, the fitness expert who had helped transform Lee Westwood. As McGregor explains himself on page 50, the number one goal was, and remains, injury prevention. Fewer niggling injuries mean more time hitting balls in practice. More time hitting balls means… You get the picture. Of course, the training has other significant benefits, too, as McIlroy told me when I interviewed him on the eve of his 2014 Open Championship triumph at Hoylake. “I’ve always been able to hit the ball a good distance because of my rotational speed,” he explained. “But when we started looking at how my body was working, it was clear that I would collapse into my left side through impact. That was because I didn’t have enough strength and stability in my left leg to hold onto that power all the way through the ball.” A quick look at the stats illustrates the point. Between 2008 and 2015, his average driving distance increased from 295 to 303 yards on the European Tour. Not bad. However, his fairwayshit percentage went up from 56 to 59 and even more impressively, his greens-hit average leapt HKGOLFER.COM

But one thing we all like about Rory is that, unlike the greatest player of the previous generation, Tiger Woods, we somehow feel more connected to him. At times we glimpse the human being behind the global megastar. from 68 to 80 per cent. These improvements might seem relatively small but make no mistake, they are the difference between being a top-50 player and a multiple Major winner. Time spent in the gym will allow Rory to continue to hit high numbers of practice balls well into the latter stages of his career. But just like any other sports star, the Northern Irishman’s form fluctuates. It doesn’t matter who you are; competing at the highest level week after week takes its toll on your game, slowly instilling bad habits that need to be rectified. When it comes to making important swing changes, it appears there are no shortcuts. “If you’re trying to make some sort of swing change or tweak something in your swing, before it feels 100 per cent comfortable and 100 per cent subconscious, it takes thousands of repetitions,” he reveals. “At the minute I’m trying to tweak a couple of things. My left-hand grip has become a little strong and I haven’t thought about my grip since I was about 12 years old! So all of a sudden I’m trying to think about weakening the left-hand grip a little bit – I practised for a few days last week and it felt so strange. HKGOLFER.COM

“But if you can persevere and stick with the uncomfortable feeling, then at the end of the day it’s going to make you a better player. I think sometimes what people don’t do is they don’t stick with something long enough to get through that period. They might try it for a couple of sessions with a pro or at the range and it might not work. Then, they will just revert back to what they are comfortable with because what they are comfortable with might make them hit a good shot now and again, and they are happy with that. There is a certain point where you have to say, ‘Okay, I’m going to be uncomfortable with this for a while, but I know in the long run it’s going to make me a better player’.” Herein lies one of the most important aspects of the work that goes into making a champion. When McIlroy is on the range, away from the prying eyes of the public, there is always a goal; an end game he is working towards. Smashing ball after ball just to feel better about your own work ethic is a mistake many have made in the past and something he is keen to avoid. “I’ve always said quality over quantity,” he explains. “Some of my best range sessions

McIlroy splashes out en route to victory at the 2011 UBS Hong Kong Open (top); pictured here with Rickie Fowler during the Walker Cup in 2007 (opposite) HK GOLFER・SEP 2016


Aside from his rising Major count, the evidence of all this hard work can be most clearly seen in McIlroy’s changing physique.

Clockwise from top: With the Claret Jug after winning The Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in 2014; in Ryder Cup partnership with Ian Poulter in 2014; pictured with Poulter and Justin Rose in the build up to the 2011 UBS Hong Kong Open 58


have been 40 to 45 minutes, but then there are some times where you need to hit a lot of balls, especially if you’re working on something for the repetitions just to try and make it comfortable. I’d say on average, if it’s a practice week where I’m getting ready for a tournament, I’d hit balls for at least an hour-and-a-half to two hours every day. That’s just on the range, but then I’ve got putting and short game, and then I go on the course. So you’re basically at the course from nine in the morning to three or four in the afternoon, so it’s a pretty long day.” On the range at the Bear’s Club near his home in Florida is where the hard work takes place. Without commentators dissecting his every move and members of the public asking for selfies, his god-given talent can become something more tangible – the foundations are laid and the promise becomes reality. But one thing we all like about Rory is that, unlike the greatest player of the previous generation, Tiger Woods, we somehow feel more connected to

him. At times we glimpse the human being behind the global megastar. Ask him a question and more often than not, he’ll give you an honest answer. So of all the off-course elements, the hours in the gym and on the range, what’s the hardest part? “I find going to the range and practising on my game more of a chore than going to the gym,” he says. “If I’m practising with people, or I have Michael [Bannon, his swing coach], Steve [McGregor] or JP [Fitzgerald, his caddie] there, or I’m going out and playing on the course, that’s a lot of fun. But if I’m grinding away on my own on the range, sometimes that can be quite monotonous. You really need to focus and take breaks – it’s hard to keep your concentration up for that long, especially when you’re working at something so hard. “If I’m on my own, I’ll bring the TrackMan out and try and challenge myself,” he continues. “I’ll say, ‘Okay, I’ve got a yardage band from 150 to 175’, which is one of the most important yardage bands in my game because I hit a lot of shots from there on the golf course. I’ll pick my target out and I’ve got to hit ten shots without missing one left. One of the great things about technology is that it puts you under pressure because it tells you exactly what your swing is HKGOLFER.COM

doing. It makes me go through my routine every time and hit each shot like I would on the golf course.” Another important piece of the jigsaw is equipment. Our interview took place just before Nike’s decision to pull out of golf’s hardware market to concentrate on footwear and apparel. But as the man himself explains, all of these elements, from the clubs he swings to the clothing he wears, are under constant review. For any champion, it seems, the gains of having exactly the right gear are essential. “The guys at Nike have got a better understanding of my action and the golf swing in general, with mine and Steve’s input. We’ll show them the data from our biomechanics testings and they can see whether I need more stability on one side of my shoe, or whatever it may be,” he says. “I’ve learned quite a lot in terms of club and apparel design, but I think they have learned a lot about the golf swing, too, because of how much detail we go into. It’s great to be able to share and for everyone to be on the same page. It’s fantastic to be a part of a team like that, where everyone is working towards the same goal, which is obviously me trying to become the best player I can be.” The truth is that if you took all of this away – the gym work, the practice time and the off-course support – and he never hit another ball in practice, McIlroy would still be an exceptionally good golfer. He would still be able to shoot rounds in the low 60s, bomb drives well over 300 yards and win important golf tournaments. But how many and for how long? That’s the key to this whole thing. The many pieces of the jigsaw on their own might only account for a small advancement in performance, but added together, they are the ingredients that can help Rory make history as one of golf’s greatest ever. As the man himself tells me: “Doing all of these things does make a difference, if we’re talking about power, carrying the bunker or not on the final hole of a Major or being able to hit the ball from the fairway instead of the rough or the bunker. There are so many tiny little variables in golf that if you can just get a little bit better, it’ll make a huge difference in the long run.” Aged 27, Rory McIlroy is reaching a critical phase in his career. The next 15-plus years will determine his place in history. If the trajectory continues, he will find himself occupying the rarefied atmosphere reserved for the greats. But, as this interview illustrates, Rory also understands that if he wants to achieve something remarkable, the hard work can never stop. Further evidence, if you needed it, that champions are made, not born. HKGOLFER.COM




The Nicklaus-designed course at Quy Nhon is one of the newest in Vietnam. Its owner, FLC Group, plans to complete work on 20 courses in the country over the next five years 60



Onward and Upward

Paul Myers examines the state of the game in Vietnam – where golf is growing, at least in terms of course construction, faster than anywhere else on the planet. HKGOLFER.COM



The FLC Golf Club in Quy Nhon hopes to ‘steal’ existing travelling golfers to Thailand from countries including Japan, Korea, China and Hong Kong


lthough its first golf course opened in 1922 in the southern highlands town of Dalat, Vietnam has been a relative newcomer to Asia’s golf development boom that began in the 1990s. Just 15 years ago, Vietnam had a handful of courses, mostly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City; today it has 40, but within five years the number will more than double to 90, making Vietnam the only country on earth still significantly creating golf courses, resorts and associated infrastructure. It’s not just the number of courses being built that makes Vietnam’s latter-day love affair with golf so remarkable. The size and scale of new developments resembles those in China by Mission Hills in the 1990s and 2000s, which has built 22 courses at two sites near Shenzhen and on the southern island of Hainan. The difference is Vietnam is taking the term “golf resort” to a new, more contemporary level in dramatic coastal settings that, until now, 62



The difference is Vietnam is taking the term “golf resort” to a new, more contemporary level in dramatic coastal settings that, until now, have been unknown as golf destinations. have been unknown as golf destinations. Publicly-listed commercial real estate and resort developer, FLC Group, has sprung to the forefront of Vietnam’s golf resort boom with new projects exceeding US$1 billion in value at five key locations along Vietnam’s 3,260-kilometre coastline. The Hanoi-based conglomerate has already opened one 18-hole resort – complete with hotel, convention centre and villas – at Sam Son, a popular up-and-coming seaside city 170km south-east of Hanoi. Another, comprising two golf courses (one of which is open), a 500-room hotel, convention centre and luxury villas near Quy Nhon – a delightful provincial city on the south-central coast – welcomed its first visitors in July. Meanwhile, work has commenced on a third resort at famous Halong Bay east of Hanoi, and construction on the crown jewel project, a 10-course facility with hotels, villas and the works, will begin soon in Quang Binh province on the north central coast. Yet another project – based on a golf academy – is on the drawing boards near Hanoi. HKGOLFER.COM



These new golf developments will put Vietnam on a par with Thailand in terms of destination choice, but far ahead of everywhere else in Asia when it comes to traditional oceanfront links courses.

The sandy coastline of Vietnam’s eastern seaboard makes for ideal golfing terrain; the Nicklaus-designed course at Quy Nhon will soon be joined by another 18 holes, this time designed by Schmidt-Curley design; the courses will form part of an integrated resort 64


These new golf developments will put Vietnam on a par with Thailand in terms of destination choice, but far ahead of everywhere else in Asia when it comes to traditional oceanfront links courses. Indeed, each new FLC course has the term “golf links” attached, conveying their oceanside locations and relevance to traditions of the 500-year-old game that originated in coastal Scotland. All this is happening at a time when golf courses are closing in many western countries; 1980s resorts with on-site villas are languishing in the United States, government restrictions on golf development and participation have crippled the industry in China and the boom in Thailand – Asia’s leading golf tourism destination with almost 300 courses– has reached a plateau. So why has Vietnam emerged as the world’s golf maverick, developing courses and infrastructure at a frenetic pace while everywhere else has slammed on the brakes?

For a start, upwardly mobile Vietnamese have taken to golf only in the past 20 years – at least 30 years later than most western countries; second, high quality golf infrastructure has been limited until the past decade; third, a foreign tourism boom since the early 2000s has brought an influx of North Asian and western golfers; and finally, the government has now given formal blessing to golf course development in designated areas, mostly on the coast. Luu Duc Quang, the youthful chairman of Biscom, the management company of FLC golf courses, says Vietnam’s large coastline is mostly unsuitable for farming, but with an appealing year-round climate and considerable natural beauty offers some of Asia’s best opportunities for resort development. “Golf is a perfect way to add to the value of real estate in these areas,” he says. While FLC continues to develop largescale apartment, office tower, shopping centre projects and industrial parks in Hanoi and major provincial cities, it plans golf to become an important – albeit still minor – part of its real estate portfolio in the future. “We plan to build 20 courses in the next five years,” Mr Quang says. “Our intention is to sell villas and offer superior recreational opportunities at all sites.” Resort villas are attractive to Vietnamese and foreign buyers, especially when there is a beach at the front door, golf on site, a pleasant climate and good infrastructure – including roads and amenities that FLC is including in each project. Initially, most of the company’s new resorts will be along the northern half of the coast within a few hours’ drive of Hanoi, but Mr Quang says the south – where most golf development has occurred until now – also will be part of the mix. Naturally, in a country like Vietnam, all of FLC’s projects come with government pre-approval – the Ministry of Planning and Investment in choosing sites and developing plans – and the Ministry of Culture and Sport in promoting golf for local participation. Currently, there are perhaps only 20,000 active golfers in Vietnam, a blip of a percentage of the country’s 90 million residents, but the sport’s increasing profile, wealth creation in larger cities and an increasing number of golf-playing foreign expats and visitors is adding to the appeal. Initially, Mr Quang expects the majority of players and real estate investors at FLC golf resorts to be local Vietnamese. He foresees considerable growth in foreign golf tourism and investment, especially from Korea and Japan, which are already major source markets HKGOLFER.COM

due to an abundance of golf-loving locals and the two countries’ harsh winters. He says golfers from other foreign countries – Europe, Australia and North America – will be attracted by new destinations and traditional links-style settings and playing conditions. Already, in Danang – where four courses have opened in the past five years and more than 100,000 rounds of golf are being played annually – the courses are booked solid by Koreans and Japanese in the DecemberMarch high season, with a steady number of westerners coming for Vietnam’s renowned culture and food to complement its new-found golf attributes. All four new FLC resorts will greatly add to Vietnam’s currently limited high-season golfplaying capacity. Large hotels, each with 500-800 rooms, convention centres and up to 1000 high-end villas are key components of each resort. Standalone villas, most with spectacular ocean views, will sell for upwards of US$1 million each, while less-pricey townhouses are also being offered. Biscom’s group golf director, Canadian Kelly Cherkowski, says FLC’s vision in developing new resort-based golf destinations is “extraordinary”. “Already, Sam Son has instantly become an international quality beach destination with golf, a convention centre and hotel. I believe the wholly-integrated resort at Quy Nhon [with a Jack Nicklaus course already open and another by US design team of Schmidt-Curley being built] will become the most popular in Vietnam in the next two or three years.” Cherkowski, who previously spent 15 years in golf management positions in Thailand, says developing four or five new golf destinations makes sense. “Thailand has seven golf destinations, but until now there has been only Danang and Nha Trang [on the coast] in Vietnam. With such a large coastline, an excellent climate that is cooler than Thailand, dramatic natural terrain and improving infrastructure, a huge opportunity exists. FLC has seen this and is investing in the future. “The golf playing market is growing in Vietnam and I expect the new developments to steal some existing foreign golfers from Thailand, especially those coming out of China, Japan, Hong Kong and Korea. “I’m sure we will see internationally branded properties associated with the new resort developments in the next five years. Planning and development of complementary infrastructure is the key to success and in this regard FLC is leading the way.” HKGOLFER.COM



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Player won the first of his Open Championship titles in 1959, the year of the inaugural Hong Kong Open


Who has had the most influence on your life? Many people influenced the way I approached my career and my life, but my family were the most significant. I have always admired the following five people: Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Gandhi, Mother Theresa and the Dali Lama.

I’m very proud to have designed 36 holes at Kau Sai Chau. When I finished with it, I felt so gratified, like I really contributed to society knowing that it was something not only for the rich. It was something for everybody.

As someone who has been extolling the virtues of fitness in golf you must be delighted to see the way the modern professional player has taken to the gym? Absolutely. My playing success was largely down to my diet, my health and my fitness. You asked me about flying before – well, when I’m not sleeping on planes I do push-ups and sit-ups, often to the surprise of my fellow passengers! But in all honestly, taking your health seriously is crucial. Staying in good physical shape is of paramount importance. The Chinese have a great diet ... my hope is that they don’t ignore it and take up Westernstyle food.

The South African spent time with Tiffany Chan, National Coach Brad Schadewitz and Steven Lam during last month's Olympic Games in Rio AFP

Finally, what do you most want to be remembered for? For being a good father, a good husband and a good grandfather. For giving back to those in need. HKGOLFER.COM




Gary Player The nine-time major champion, one of golf's true legends, talks flying, fitness and Kau Sai Chau.

You famously slept on the beach at St Andrews on your first Open Championship appearance in 1955 because you didn’t have enough money for a hotel room. How much of that experience do you remember? All of it, and I’ve been back to the spot too. I got off the train with about £200, which was my total life assets, and couldn’t get a room at the hotel for less than around £40, so I wasn’t going to spend that kind of money. I put on a sweater and my waterproofs and I slept in the sand. I slept well; it was a very positive experience. The next night I managed to find a hotel room for a lot less money, so I went there. But years later, when I was back in St Andrews, I went down and found the dune where I slept. They’re very good memories. You’re reportedly one of the most travelled individuals of all time and commute from your homes in South Africa and America to all corners of the world. Have you worked out far you’ve flown in your career? It’s true, I fly even more than airline pilots because they’re required to take a rest after each flight! I really love flying. I’m nearing 25 million kilometers, approximately.

Alex Jenkins (Kau Sai Chau); AFP (Player)

Presumably flying has become easier over the years ... Absolutely. In the old days, when I was playing, I travelled all over the world to compete. Flying for 40-plus hours from South Africa to the United States, stopping at places along the way, was a regular trip. And that was in the old Constellations, with my kids! Now it’s barely 16 hours – and it’s nonstop – but the seats are so much better. You have a seat that turns into a flat bed. Those would have been very useful during my career. These days, of course, Ernie Els get to tournaments on his Gulfstream jet. Plenty has changed. Having said that, while it’s certainly easier to travel these days, to hole a 15foot putt to win a major is because of you, not because of the private jet. You’ve achieved so much in the game but is there a single event that stands out for you? It’s difficult to choose just one. Obviously the nine major wins were very 74


It’s true, I fly even more than airline pilots because they’re required to take a rest after each flight! special, as was the time when I completed the Grand Slam on the Champions Tour. That, for me, was a great accomplishment. To get them both is something I’m very proud of. Aside from your playing career, you’re known in Hong Kong as the man who designed the North and South courses at the Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau. Where does that particular project rank among the many hundreds that you’ve been involved in? Very high. I’m very proud to have designed 36 holes at Kau Sai Chau. When I finished with it, I felt so gratified, like I really contributed to society knowing that it was something not only for the rich. It was something for everybody. You could have perhaps left a bit more room on the 14th of the North Course, the par-3 with the peninsula green ... [Laughs] You like that one, yeah? Good, strong hole. Beautiful. Causes plenty of heartache, I’m sure. HKGOLFER.COM