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The Masters Preview

THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION VOTED THE REGION’S NO 1 GOLF MAGAZINE

ISSUE 134

HKGOLFER.COM APRIL 2018

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW SIR NICK FALDO

TIGER ROARS AGAIN DISPLAY UNTIL 15 MAY

PLUS: THE LONGEST HOLE A NEW WORLD RECORD


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| CONTENTS

HK Golfer Issue 134

April 2018

28 On the Cover:

Tiger Woods, who is seeking his fifth green jacket, will be making just his second appearance at the Masters since 2013. He may never dominate like he once did, but the 2018 version of Tigermania roars louder than ever.

Features

Plus…

28 | The Masters Preview

10 | Divots

There promises to be a masterpiece at the first Major of the year, with any one of the top 25 in the world in line for a fitting of the iconic Green Jacket. By Mike Wilson

36 | Asian Angle

Glashütte Original is working hard to bring a more contemporary feel to its usual German design.

56 | Joe Public Will Have No Say

The Kilted Caddie expresses his opinion about the significant changes concerning the Rules of Golf and the Handicap System.

Top: AFP/Getty Images; Right: Jonathan Sayeb

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

By Chuah Choo Chiang

By Mike Wilson

By The Kilted Caddie

64 | The Longest Hole

HK GOLFER・APR 2018

12 | In Focus By The Editors

The richly-rewarded young men blessed with a Godgiven talent need to take a reality check and accept the adage that whoever pays the piper calls the tune.

6

By The Editors

Asia’s young and aspiring stars have blossomed in near perfect sync to deliver golfing bliss to the continent’s growing legion of fans at the Masters.

50 | Bunker Mentality

42

News and events from Hong Kong and the region.

19 | Tee Time By The Editors

25 | Around the HKGA

The President of HKGA expresses his opinion about the controversy of the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling in a letter to all the HK golfers. By Nishi Yoshihiro

42 | Interview – Sir Nick Faldo

The six-time Major champion talks about his dark days in the 80s, achievements of winning six Majors ˘ng Cô, his second design and the Laguna Golf La in Vietnam.

The longest and strangest hole in golfing history has finished after 80 days and 20,093 shots across Mongolia. A remarkable feast.

By Louie Chan

By Adam Rolston

This issue: “The Masters!”

72 | Crossword By Dr Milton Wayne

HKGOLFER.COM


The new V-Class Exclusive Edition. Grand. Unique.


HK Golfer

THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION APRIL 2018 • Issue 134

Managing Editor: Louie Chan louie.chan@hkgolfer.com Contributing Editors: Dr Milton Wayne, Faye Glasgow, John Bruce, Nathan Goulding, Keith McLaren, Paul Jansen, Evan Rast, Mike Wilson, Robin Lynam. Art Director: Derek Hannah Photo Editor: Daniel Wong Administration Manager Cindy Kwok Publisher: Charles McLaughlin Published by:

TIMES INTERNATIONAL CREATION

Laguna Golf La˘ ng Cô, championship golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo

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

D E PA R T M E N T S 10 Divots 12 Global Focus 14 China Focus 16 Local Focus 19 Clubhouse 25 Around the HKGA 42 Interview 36 Asian Angle 50 Bunker Mentality 56 The Kilted Caddie

Jonathan Sayeb

72 Crossword

In association with: thymedesign.hk Advertising: For advertising information, please contact: ads@hkgolfer.com For purchasing information contact: sales@hkgolfer.com For subscription information contact: subs@hkgolfer.com Hong Kong Golf Association Suite 2003, Olympic House 1 Stadium Path, So Kon Po Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Phone (General): +852 2504-8659 Fax: +852 2845-1553 Phone (Handicaps): +852 2504-8197 Fax: +852 2504-8198 Email: info@hkga.com handicaps@hkga.com

HK GOLFER is published by Times International Creation, 10B Lockhart Centre, 301-307 Lockhart Road, Hong Kong. HK GOLFER is published monthly © 2017 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. 8

HK GOLFER・APR 2018

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| DIVOTS

Max Wong Wins the HKGC Championship Again

The Hong Kong Golf Association

On a perfect day for golf, finalists Chris Tsui and Max Wong both started shakily, exchanging the first four holes in which Max had two double bogeys. They then settled down and played some fine golf for the rest of the morning round. Chris had got to the turn 2-up after a spectacular birdie on the 6th and a win on the 9th where Max found water. Max hit back with a two-putt birdie on the 10th and another birdie on 13. Chris went 1up again with his two-putt birdie on the 14th and held this lead at lunch. With a solid par-par-birdie start to his afternoon round, Chris was again 2-up. Sadly, this was his last hurrah. 3 putts from long range lost him the 4th. An unfortunate f lier from the rough on the 5th led to a double bogey. Match all square. The 9th and 10th holes were the turning points. On the 9th, Max played a brilliant shot from the fairway bunker on to the green while Chris overshot the green and could not save par. On the par-five 10th, Max got down in two from off the green for a birdie, while Chris three-putted, wasting a fine second shot on to the green. He was unfortunate that his long putt required him to putt across the fringe perilously close to the pond. Chris had another bad break on the par-three 13th when his fine tee shot caught a gust of

Chris Tsui (left) and Max Wong (right) at the 2018 Hong Kong Golf Club Championship wind and sailed over the green into a nearly unplayable position, resulting in Max going three up. Although Chris hit back at the very next hole with a birdie, he remained 2-down playing the difficult 16th. Here Max put his second shot dead to the pin for a conceded birdie, sealing his 8th win in the Championship. In the end, Max’s greater experience told, but Chris is a very fine player indeed, and will undoubtedly become Champion in the not too distant future. In the Junior division for players with a handicap of 10 and over, Ken Anderson retained the title he won last year by beating leading qualifier William Doo Jr. 5 and 4 in the 36-hole final.

Honma Launches New Beres S-06 Series in HK T he g lob a l le ader i n gol f e qu ipment , craftsmanship and innovation introduces the new Beres S-06 Series. Honma organised a Demo Day for a number of golf media and distinguished guests at the driving range of Golf Waterfall to introduce one of the most premium and high-performance golf club lines. Since 1959, Honma Golf has been making some of golf ’s most coveted clubs. In the foothills of Sakata, Japan, more than 400 skilled craftsmen combine superior materials with unbeatable craftsmanship to produce perfection. The new Beres S-06 Series, of course, carries 100% Honma spirit. Both the driver and fairway woods feature Key Groove technology, which promotes maximum ball speeds across the face, while an enlarged sweet spot encourages confidences thanks to improved face construction. A carbon fibre-layered shaft utilises advanced material construction around a softer, lighter centre for performance in a shaft with less weight. 10

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The IS-06 irons have a new face design to promote higher launch conditions. Face and sole slots are designed to help the club flex and either deflect on poor hits or maximise distance on desired contact points. The ARMRQ X shaft distributes weight along the length of each shaft to promote a consistent, fluid swing. For the price and more information of the Beres S-06 Series, please go to www.honma.hk. HKGOLFER.COM


| DIVOTS

PGA TOUR Series-China Announces First Eight Events of 2018 Season Jason Hak finished tied fifth at the season-opening Chengdu Championship

PGA TOUR Series-China/Zhuang Liu

The first eight of its 14 events in 2018 at the seasonopening Chengdu Championship, which finished at Luxehills International Country Club already in midMarch and was followed by Chongqing Championship at Poly Golf Club. Hong Kong’s Jason Hak has played very well in both events, finished fifth in Chongqing and tied fifth in Chengdu. The schedule includes two events in May, two in June and two in July. The Changsha Championship at Hunan Dragon Lake International Golf Club in Hunan province from May 3-6 will be followed by the Haikou Championship at 3 Miles Golf Club on tropical Hainan island from May 10-13.  In June, the Guilin Championship at Guilin Landscape Golf Club in Guangxi province and the Kunming Championship at Yulongwan Golf C lu b i n s o u t hwe s t e r n Yu n n a n p r ov i n c e w i l l also be held back to back, from June 7-10 and June 14-17 respectively.  The north-eastern province of Shandong will host two events in July when the Yantai Championship at Nanshan International Golf Club from July 12-15 is followed by the Qingdao Championship at Tiger Beach Golf Club in Qingdao from July 19-22.


Global Focus I’m Definitely Not a Masters Favourite Bubba Watson picked up his second victory in as many weeks and his second career World Golf Championship, just one week before the Masters. With a win at the WGC-Dell Technology Match Play at Austin, Texas, people start to call him a favuorite to win the year’s first Major. Watson is also, of course, a two-time Masters winner, who knows his way around Augusta National. “I’m not a favourite. I’m going to definitely say that. I’m not a favourite,” Watson joked. “I don’t want anybody to talk to me that week. Let me just focus on what I’ve got to do. I’m not going to play well that week, so nobody talks to me.” Actually, Watson is among the favourites for the year’s first Major, listed on one website at 16/1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SupeBook, just behind the likes of Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Photo by AFP/Getty Images


China Focus Kang Wins on PGA TOUR  Series-China debut USA’s Jeffrey Kang shot a sensational 8-under 64 - his second in three days - to secure a five-shot victory at the RMB1.5 million Chengdu Championship, the opening event on this season’s PGA TOUR Series-China.  Bouncing back from an opening 74, Kang posted a stunning 20-under total of 268 at Luxehills International Country Club after shooting 22-under in his last 54 holes (64-66-64). Hong Kong’s Jason Hak, the leader for the first three rounds, carded a 73 to share fifth place with China’s Daxing Jin (69) and Japan’s Kenta Konishi (69) on 14-under.  Kang, who started the day three behind Hak, fired out of the blocks with birdies on the first and third and an eagle on the par5 seventh, having chipped in to save par on the par-4 sixth. The American pulled away on the back nine as he picked up further shots on 10, 12, 13 and 15 before bogeying 17. Finally, in front of huge galleries, he birdied the par-5 18th, where many of his American and Korean friends doused him in water. Photo by PGA TOUR SeriesChina/Zhuang Liu


Local Focus Tiffany Chan Looks to Regain the HK Ladies Open Title The 2018 EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open will welcome the return of LPGA Rookie Tiffany Chan as she looks to regain the prestigious championship she last won in 2016. Taking place on 11th to 13th May at the Hong Kong Golf Club Old Course, the tournament will once again carry a total prize purse of US$150,000. The 54-hole event is sanctioned by the China LPGA Tour, Taiwan LPGA, and the Ladies Asia Golf Tour, and supported by the Hong Kong Professional Golfers’ Association, and the Hong Kong Golf Association. 24-year-old Chan became the first ever golfer from Hong Kong to qualify for the LPGA after an impressive runnerup finish at Qualifying School at the end of last year. The 2018 HK Close Amateur Champion Stephanie Ho will provide another spark to this year’s open. One of Tiffany’s closest friends from childhood, Ho has recently put her entertainment career on a temporary hold to concentrate on her golf. Photo by Daniel Wong


CLUB

Away from the Fairways | TEE TIME

MINIMALISM IN WATCHMAKING FOR QUITE SOME YEARS ALREADY, GLASHÜTTE ORIGINAL IS WORKING HARD TO BRING A MORE CONTEMPORARY FEEL TO ITS USUAL GERMAN DESIGN. NEW COLLECTIONS ARE BRINGING A YOUNGER AND MORE MODERN TASTE TO ITS TEUTONIC PIECES, FOR BASELWORLD 2018, WITH THE SENATOR EXCELLENCE PERPETUAL CALENDAR LIMITED EDITION. The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition HKGOLFER.COM

HK GOLFER・APR 2018

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T

The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar has a 42mm case, with brushed and polished surfaces 20

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he latest addition to the Senator has a 42mm case, with brushed and polished E xcellen ce f amil y co mb in es surfaces, as well as the same display for the m e c h a n i c a l b e a u t y w i t h a perpetual calendar - Panorama date at 4 modern, technical feel that was o’clock, moon-phase at 8 o’clock, day-of-thes o m e w h at a b s e nt f ro m t h e week, month and leap year at respectively previous collections. Glashütte 10, 2 and 12 o’clock. And finally, central hands for the hours, Original introduced for minutes and Baselworld 2018 a new, “It is not the first time that seconds. What open-worked limited Glashütte Original offers an open- c h a n g e s i s edition of its perpetual worked watch. Other watches the metal in calendar. Bolder but still in line with the brand’s with such decoration were usually w h i c h t h e case is crafted; expec tation, it is a quite baroque and old-fashioned.” here 18k white refreshing novelty. gold - usually, I t is n o t t h e f i r s t time that Glashütte Original offers an open- the  Senator Excellence collection is only worked watch. Other watches with such available in steel or 18k red gold. Then is the dial, in matte grey. It has decoration were usually quite baroque and old-fashioned - curved skeletonised bridges been partially opened in the centre and adorned with arabesques. Glashütte Original around the indications to reveal the main has made use of this technique to implement plate of the perpetual calendar module. This plate is decorated with an  elaborate a fresh, modern design. The Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar guilloche decoration,  crafted by hand in HKGOLFER.COM


The matte grey dial has been partially opened in the centre and around the indications to reveal the main plate of the perpetual calendar module

the watchmaker’s own dial manufactory in Pforzheim. This plate is partially opened to reveal the interplay of the calendar discs. The Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition is powered by the in-house Calibre 36-02 automatic movement, which is visible through the sapphire case back. Offering an impressive 100 hours of power reserve, it features 43 jewels and oscillates at 28,800vph. In true German style, the movement is beautifully decorated and features a Glashütte three-quarter plate with stripe finish, bevelled edges, polished steel parts, and a skeletonised rotor with 21ct gold oscillation weight. To c o m p l e t e t h i s m o d e r n l o o k , the  Glashütte Original Senator Excellence Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition features several blue accents that contrast with the silver and grey colours used all around - blue alligator strap, blued hands and blue minute markers. This watch will be produced in 100 pieces only. HKGOLFER.COM

This Limited Edition is powered by the inhouse Calibre 36-02 automatic movement

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The new Senator Cosmopolite is decidedly less formal in appearance

L

aunched in 2015, the Glashütte Original Senator Cosmopolite is perhaps the most completely equipped travel watch on the market. Not only can it track 36 time-zones, including the 13 that differ in half and quarter hours, but it also comes with a Daylight Savings Time function an esoteric yet necessary feature that ought to exist in any travel watch. And despite the surfeit of information it can read, the watch retains a remarkably minimalist dial.  While it was previously available only in white or red gold, with the commensurate price tags, Glashütte Original has just unveiled the stainless-steel version ahead at Baselworld 2018. The new Senator Cosmopolite is decidedly less formal in appearance, perhaps even more functional, featuring dark blue Arabic numerals instead of Romans over a matte white lacquered dial that also has a simplified minute track.   The case remains the same 44mm in diameter and 14mm in height. And so does the movement and functions. Local time is displayed with the central hands while home time is indicated in the subdial at 12 o’clock. A tiny aperture in the subdial shows the day or night at home while a power reserve indicator charts the movement’s 72hour power reserve. The Senator Cosmopolite includes all of the world’s 36 time-zones, and each indicated by the three-letter official IATA location code that refers to the international airport in the zone: ”BKK” for Bangkok and “PEK” for Beijing.

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Time-zones are indicated by the three-letter official IATA location code that refers to the international airport in the zone

HKGOLFER.COM


HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION


Dear Golfers,

HKGOLFER.COM

people than just private club members. The Hong Kong Golf Association has more than 15,000 registered members representing virtually all corners of society, including people who do not belong to private clubs. Many of them play at Fanling to enjoy the experience of playing one of the world’s most famous courses. As a longtime resident of Hong Kong, I certainly share the concern that we need more housing. But I would also like to ask the Task Force to look at the other equally important aspect of this discussion, and that is the need to preserve Hong Kong’s historical heritage. Would a New Yorker consider building on Central Park for more real estate development? I don’t think so. They would look for other appropriate places first before destroying the city’s oasis. I feel that there is currently a severe lack of appreciation for the Fanling site’s value and history. Destroying Fanling would be a huge loss and shame not only for Hong Kong but for the global golf community as well. I sincerely hope that the Task Force will stop, think and reconsider its current position. The upcoming public consultation on the future of Fanling can only be fair, credible and complete if the third option of preserving this historic site is put to stakeholders to weigh and judge. If you would like to express your views, please email to The Task Force on Land Supply: tfls@devb.gov.hk.

Course: The Hong Kong Golf Club/ Portrait: Daniel Wong

The Hong Kong Golf Club at Fanling is one of the oldest and finest courses in Asia. Built in 1911, it has hosted many marquee events throughout its 97-year history. Fanling is the mecca of golf in Asia and the envy of many neighbouring countries. Golf legend Gary Player said in January, “This world-class golf course deserves to be preserved for generations to come”. Recently, there has been heated discussion in Hong Kong calling for the Government to take back part of or even the entire Fanling site for housing development. I, like many in the golf community, would like to ask the Government’s Task Force on Land Supply: Why there are only two options for the public to consider? Why isn’t there a third option to preserve historical heritage? Before making this recommendation, have people thought carefully about the consequence – that once heritage is gone, it can never be replaced? Perhaps there is insufficient awareness and understanding of golf’s development in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s golf history started from private clubs, which have been supporting local golf development for the last 50 years. Over this time, they have helped grow the sport from nothing to a point where young local talent is making its mark on the international scene. Tiffany Chan, for example, competed in the 2016 Olympics and went on to qualify for the LPGA Tour. None of this could have happened without the support of private clubs, who provide their facilities to national squad members for free and host more than 30 golf tournaments every year. Taking away any part of Fanling would suffocate our sports development, dim our light on the world stage and destroy the history we have worked so hard to build. It is worth noting that facilities like Fanling benefit far more

Yours faithfully, For and on behalf of the Hong Kong Golf Association Nishi Yoshihiro President, Hong Kong Golf Association

HK GOLFER・APR 2018

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Feng Shanshan Praises HKGC’s Role in Developing Golf

The Hong Kong Golf Club

Feng Shanshan, LPGA Tour star and China’s first Major winner, stopped by the Hong Kong Golf Club on her way to participate in the Kia Classic in the US and enjoyed a round at Fanling with some old friends. 28-year-old Feng was last at Fanling during her junior amateur days and said: “It felt great to be back at Fanling after 14 years! The fairways and greens have not only challenged many world-class golfers, but they are also beautiful and steeped in history. Becoming the world no. 1 is any professional golfer’s dream. However, it is not an easy journey for someone like me who comes from an ordinary family. It would not have been possible without a lot of support from the Government, China Golf Association, and many other parties. “Many organisations in Hong Kong are also making great efforts to support golf players - including the HKGC, which launched the HK Ladies Open in 2015. The tournament is a milestone in the development of golf in

Feng Shanshan with Kenneth Lam, Vice President of the HKGA HK and provides a platform for the many talented Asian women golfers to compete and enhance their skills. I have been lucky enough to achieve my dream of becoming a professional golfer, and I hope that more young talents will be inspired by my story. I am sure the support from the community will help the sport to become more popular. So that more people have the opportunity to enjoy and excel in it.”

Brock and Au Win HKGA Spring Tournament

The Hong Kong Golf Association

Jonathan Brock and Andrea Au sealed their spots in the 2018 MercedesTrophy Hong Kong by winning the HKGA Spring Men’s and Ladies Tournament respectively, both at the Discovery Bay Golf Club. In the ever-popular event for Hong Kong Golf Association (HKGA) cardholders, Brock fired 38 points to win the Men’s Tournament by 9 from Varun Bery, while Au scored 29 points to win the Ladies Tournament by 2 from Inara Sharma. With the HKGA Spring Tournaments on the ‘Road to MercedesTrophy Hong Kong 2018’, Brock, Bery, Au and Sharma were all rewarded with a spot in the prestigious MercedesTrophy event at the Hong Kong Golf Club. Chan Yuet Ming became the Nett Stableford winner with 51 points and will be joined by Ladies winner Joyce Leung (45 points) to head to the Mercedes-Benz showpiece event at Fanling. 26

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Nishi Yoshihiro, President of the HKGA (centre) with the prize winners at the HKGA Ladies Spring Tournament 2018 Leading final scores: Men’s Gross Stableford: 38 - Jonathan Brock; 29 - Varun Bery; 27 - Ian Stewart, Ian Tan, Tim Kwok, Chan Yuet Ming, Chan Cheung Kwong, Lui Wai Ming. Men’s Nett Stableford: 51 - Chan Yuet Ming; 45 Jonathan Brock; 43 - Terry Tong. Ladies Gross Stableford: 30 - Andrea Au; 28 - Inara Sharma; 26 -Cora Tsang. Ladies Nett Stableford: 45 - Joyce Leung; 41 - Janelle Weber; 40 - Elena Bondar. HKGOLFER.COM


THE MASTERS PREVIEW

An

Augusta

Masterpiece

Awaits

It’s April, Augusta National and Azaleas await. As Mike Wilson predicts, there promises to be a masterpiece at the first Major of the year, with any one of the top 25 in the world in line for a fitting of the iconic Green Jacket. With archrivals Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods rewriting history, and Rory McIlroy bang back in form, it truly is a mouthwatering prospect.

F

or some, this correspondent included, the Masters was in danger of losing its allure, its lustre, the stardust it sprinkled in abundance in the heyday of the ‘Big 3,’ and Tiger in his pomp. But, it seems the good times are rolling once more for what should be a masterpiece of pure theatre on one of the greatest stages in sports. It really does say something about the reinvigorating nature of elite men’s professional golf that the man currently wearing the fabled Green Jacket, Spain’s Sergio García is, to all intents and purposes, something of a rank

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outsider with those wise men they call ‘Turf accountants.’ The Spaniard broke his Major duck at Augusta 12 months ago, shaking off the least wanted moniker in golf as ‘The best player never to win a Major’. His birdie three to Ryder Cup teammate Justin Rose’s bogey five earning the Spaniard the near US$2m winner’s cheque, appositely on the birthday of the late, lamented compatriot Seve Ballesteros. For García, who was looking and sounding more and more like a tortured soul seemingly destined always to be the bridesmaid and never the bride, winning the 2017 Masters was less

HKGOLFER.COM


AFP/Jeff Haynes

Tiger Woods celebrates after making the winning putt of the 2005 Masters at the Augusta National

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Sergio Garcia holds his 2017 Masters trophy and points his finger to heaven to pay tribute to the legendary Seve’s 60th birthday

AFP/Getty Images

and less about the money. His burgeoning bank account is now more than US$70m – and more a moment of epiphany, the monkey eventually off the back of the man who has no fewer than 19 top-10 finishes in 77 attempts at winning one of what. For every elite golfer is the only true currency of their sport, a Major title. “Definitely [a] demonstration of my character, and my mentality. You know, how positive I stayed even when things weren't going that well,” was his immediate reaction following the somewhat cheesy Green Jacket donning ceremony in Butler’s Cabin, few believing him when he said, “I'm still the same guy. I'm still the same goofy guy, so that's not going to change.” “I think the problem is because where my head was at sometimes, I did think about, am I ever going to win one. I've had so many good chances and either I lost them, or someone has done something extraordinary to beat me, so it did cross my mind.  Now married with a new baby daughter in his arms and a Green Jacket in his locker, García looks and sounds like a man vindicated, the shackles off, the doubters - and there were many - consigned to beyond the out-of-bounds markers. This correspondent included who was roundly and vociferously castigated by him at the World Match Play Championship in his native Spain for the audacity of asking him to see a sports psychologist to overcome his demons. García, who seems to have taken his recent change of clubs from TaylorMade to Callaway in his stride, goes into his title defence inside the top-10 of the Official World Golf Ranking. All of which makes his longish-odds not only more intriguing but all the more attractive for the punters. But the big back-story to this, the 82nd staging of the season-opening Major, must be the resurgence of two former champions. Both forty-somethings, Phil Mickelson and his archrival over two halcyon decades, the fully-fit again and

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reinvigorated Tiger Woods. And the more recent renaissance of Rory McIlroy who goes into this month’s Masters not only in search of a first Green Jacket but also the coveted career, Grand Slam. That would enable the Irishman to join the elite and exclusive club currently comprising five members, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. Each of who has won all four Majors, at least once. Interestingly, Mickelson would also join that gilt-edged group was he able to go one better than the half-dozen runners-up finishes he has endured in his home US Open at Shinnecock Hills in June. It will be his 26th attempt at winning what, for most US professionals in the jewel in their crown, much more of which in the June edition of HK Golfer. Woods is 1-up on Lefty in the Green Jacket stakes, four to three. But the prospect of the pair of them slugging it out through Amen Corner come Sunday afternoon would, without question, send the TV ratings through the roof and into the stratosphere. They were up a reported 181% as Woods went head-to-head with eventual winner Paul Casey at the recent Valspar Championship.

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Phil Mickelson holds his trophy after winning the WGC-Mexico Championship in early March

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golf, Augusta National, ‘Does not suit his eye.’ Perhaps his big-hitting, powerball game lacking the subtlety to plot his way around one of the most strategic courses in world golf. The phrase, ‘A sledgehammer to crack a nut,’ springs readily to mind when it comes to DJ, arguably lacking the guile, and perhaps the temperament to win on the biggest stage of all. American idols, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, will, without doubt, be amongst the fans’ favourites. Thomas, second on the OWGR, is yet to record a top20 finish in two appearances at Augusta to date, but his time may yet to come. Meanwhile, his Ryder Cup teammate Spieth, runner-up twice and Masters champion in 2015, left one to wonder if the scars of what looked like a nailed-on title defence when leading by five strokes heading into the back-nine, suffered one of the biggest collapses in Masters history after bogeys at the 10th and 11th holes. Spieth hit two balls into the water at the par-3 12th hole, carding a quadruple-bogey and dropping him to a tie for fourth. Memories of Greg Norman’s calamitous collapse around the notorious Amen Corner in 1996 when the Great White Shark sank without trace. Handing the Green Jacket to Nick Faldo and, despite three runners-up finishes, the Australian was never to experience the schmaltzy ritual in Butler’s Cabin, whereas the 24-year-old Spieth has, preceding his 2015 US Open victory with a maiden Major at Augusta. Justin Rose, the reigning Olympic champion and up to fifth on the OWGR must surely learn from last year’s playoff defeat to García and has the game, and the temperament to add the Masters to his 2013 US Open victory. With five top-10 finishes - runner-up twice - in 12 Augusta outings, the 37-year-old South African-born Englishman will be one to watch again this year. Those two inheritors of Sergio García’s burden as the best players never

HK GOLFER・APR 2018

AFP/Alfredo Estrella

Woods has been managing his rehabilitation with unprecedented care, and, a humbler man than ever before. 12th in the Honda Classic and runner-up to Casey in the Valspar points to a man who, for the first time in many years, justifies his status as the second favourite to win a fifth Masters title. It was a feat only ever exceeded by Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear, going winning his sixth Green Jacket in his 46th year back in 1986. Intriguingly, was Mickelson to make it a fourth Masters win - and, take note of a possible omen, he only dons the Green Jacket in evennumbered years - at 47-years-old - five-yearsolder than Woods - he would surpass Nicklaus as the oldest player ever to win a Major title. And Lefty comes into Augusta on a run of fine form. Three top six finished topped-off with a barnstorming victory in the WGC-Mexico Championship. Clear evidence of a man not only in the way of his life but belying his years, and, at odds of 20/1, he’s well worth a punt. The Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) would suggest that Dustin Johnson, world number-one is the man to beat. But his track record at the Masters, two top-10s in seven outings would indicate that, as they say in

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Perhaps DJ’s big-hitting, power-ball game lacking the subtlety to plot his way around one of the most strategic courses in world golf

AFP/Getty Images

to have won a Major, Lee Westwood and Rickie Fowler not only have that albatross circling as-yet unfulfilled careers. But, take heart, if the Spaniard could find a way to win after 18 years of trying and at the 73rd attempt, then Westwood - in the same territory and with three top-three Masters finishes since 2010, anything is possible. And Westwood, unlike Fowler, is careering headlong outside the top-100 on the OWGR. In the parlance of the sport of racing, he so loves, his race may run, whereas Fowler, #7 in the world, started the season well with a win at the Hero World Challenge and fourth in the Tournament of Champions before his form tailed-off as the calendar year of 2018 has unfolded. One man not hitherto mentioned in dispatches to date is Rory McIlroy, memories of his momentous meltdown at Augusta in 2011 still redolent sevenyears-on. Just one top-25 finish on the PGA TOUR to date this year hardly suggested the career grand slam would a realistic option for the Northern Irishman - once the anointed heir-apparent to Tiger Woods - whose game had gone seriously off the boil of late. But wait a moment; Rory roared right back to form with a barnstorming victory in the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last month. Thanks in large part to a final round 64, covering the final 13 holes in eightunder-par, playing what he later described as, ‘flawless golf.” In the heat of battle with US favourite Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and, again, a reinvigorated Tiger Woods were hot on his heels. But a final round 64, eight-under-par giving him a three-shot margin of victory and up to seventh on an OWG Rhe once threatened to dominate - 95-weeks at #1 - in what appeared to be the post-Woods era. For his part, Woods, fully fit again, it seems in both body and mind is just outside the top-100, having been down amongst the dead men and

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heading towards the exit door of the top1,000, quite a comeback. But does his A rnold Pa l mer victor y, impressive though it was, make McIlroy an authentic candidate for a maiden Masters title? McIlroy needs - more than wants - a Masters title, and he needs it badly. First, to secure his legacy as one of the greats of the game, rather than one of the great enigmas, but also to atone for and lay the ghost of one of the most cataclysmic, calamitous, catastrophic and publicly humiliating meltdowns in world golf at Augusta seven - years, seven - years ago. With a four-stroke cushion going into the final day at Augusta National in 2011, his unravelling was both painful and strangely compelling to watch as South African Charl Schwartzel found himself the unlikely wearer of a Green Jacket made-to-measure for the Irishman. In ref lective mood recently, the fourtime Major winner (and his last, the Open Championship and USPGA both four years ago now) claimed that fateful Sunday, the 10th of April 2011 had been, "the most important day of [my] career," adding, "I learned so much about myself and what I needed to do the next time I got into that position."

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Rory McIlroy needs - more than wants a Masters title, and he needs it badly

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But, if anyone of the near-100-man field at Augusta this month not only covets but craves, a Green Jacket, it is the Irishman. Otherwise very good, if not great players like Danny Willett (2016), Bubba Watson (twice in 2012 and 2014), Trevor Immelman (2008), Mike Weir (2003) and the aforementioned Schwartzel will have had the honour not only of wearing a Green Jacket in perpetuity but also setting the menu for the pre-Masters Champion’s Dinner. The Masters has, over the years, thrown-up some unlikely and unheralded winners, like Larry Mize in 1987, Mark O’Meara in 1998, Ángel Cabrera in 2009 and Willett two years ago. So, given a fair wind, a good draw and some large slices of luck, anyone in it can win it. And, like sticking a pin whilst blindfolded in the start list, the best of the rest could be the currently in-form Casey, with the fresh smell of Valspar victory in his nostrils. 2016 Open Championship winner Henrik Stenson, whose Augusta record to date is lamentable. US-based Spaniard John Rahm, tied for 27th on debut last year and Jason Day, almost anything is possible. However, with Lefty, Tiger, García and Rose, Spieth and Thomas, Johnson and Bubba, Matsuyama and Kiradech - and now possibly Rory - all in contention come late afternoon US Eastern Time come Sunday 8th April, it would make for compulsive, compelling and clamorous viewing. It would also give men’s professional golf the shot in the arm it so badly needs. And we’ll all, for sure, have Georgia on our minds. But, with a course like Augusta National, four-times around Amen Corner, many of the best players in world golf in the field and the world watching, picking the winner of the Green Jacket this year is, for predicting pundits, a cross between playing Russian Roulette, a Medieval Joust and a Franco-Spanish duel to the death. May the best man win.

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AFP/Getty Images

But there are those who would suggest that a series of managerial disputes and personal mishaps and misjudgements have revealed a chink in the previously seemingly mental armour. These included a belatedly abortive plan to marry the recently-crowned Australian Open tennis champion Caroline Wozniacki; oversleeping and almost missing his tee-time at the ‘Miracle of Medinah’ Ryder Cup of 2012; declining the opportunity to play at the Rio Olympics and a hapless and ill-judged ankle injury playing football on the eve of the 2015 Open Championship - he hasn’t won a tournament anywhere in the world since the PGA TOUR Championship in September 2016 - derailed what had promised to be a stellar career of the Woods/Mickelson/Nicklaus dimension. And, perhaps, therein lies the rub, fame hanging-out with boy-band members, NBA superstars and Premier League footballers - and fortune - a 10-year US$200 million contract extension with Nike for apparel only, plus a 10-year $100 million equipment deal with TaylorMade to use their clubs, ball and bag. Not to mention marriage to PGA TOUR staffer Erica Stoll, the trademark swagger and burning ambition may just have been blunted.

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ASIAN ANGLE

Sharma's Road

to

Stardom As the azaleas and dogwood prepare to bloom, signalling the arrival of spring and the year’s first major, the Masters Tournament, Asia’s young and aspiring stars have blossomed in near perfect sync to deliver golfing bliss to the continent’s growing legion of fans, writes Chuah Choo Chiang.

A

m ongst t he emerging crop of leading regional performers, young Indian Shubhankar Sharma has undoubted ly been t he name on everybody’s lips following his double victory in South Africa and Malaysia. Plus, a mesmerising debut at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, where he held the 36-hole, and 54-hole lead before finishing tied ninth announced his arrival on one of the game’s the biggest stage.

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At 21, Sharma is proving himself to be the real deal. He can consistently hit it straight with every club in his bag, he putts the ball beautifully and owns a calm temperament thanks largely to meditation taught by his mother since he was a child. In addition, Sharma is humble and has the personality that every parent would be proud of. Je e v M i l k h a S i n g h , o n e o f I n d i a ’s greatest players, has labelled his young countryman as the “complete package”. W hile A rjun At wal, the only Indian to

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AFP/Alfredo Estrella

Arjun Atwal, the only Indian to win on the PGA TOUR to date, calls Shubhankar Sharma a young man with an “older soul”

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AFP/Getty Images

Sharma held the 36-hole, and 54-hole lead before finishing tied ninth announced his arrival on one of the game’s the biggest stage at the WGCMexico Championship

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w i n on t he PG A T OU R to date, ca l l s Sharma a young man with an “older soul” which is evident through his maturity on and off the golf course. A nirban Lahiri has predicted it would only be a matter of time before Sharma joins him on the PGA TOUR. An army brat where his father, Colonel Mohan Sharma served in the Indian armed forces and was coaxed by Lahiri’s father to teach his son t he game, Shubhankar has been a great benefactor of the Asian Tour, the region’ governing body for the professional game. Through playing opportunities across the region, the first sight of Sharma as a new prospect came at the 2016 Resorts World Manila Masters where he fired a final round 62 to finish tied fourth, which helped seal his full card for the 2017 Asian Tour season. Sharma went on to register four top-10s during 2017, and several weeks after missing out on his European Tour card at Qualifying School late last year, t he young Indian pulled off a career-changing victory at the Joburg Open in South Africa, highlighted by a stunning 61 during the second round.

In February, Sharma was at it again, this time producing some final round fireworks at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia where he closed with a scintillating 62 to win by two strokes. From being ranked a lowly 521st in November, Sharma has since shot up to 64th on the world rankings (as at March 12) and seized the lead on both the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity rankings. The early season success rewarded Sharma with a maiden World Golf Championships appearance in Mexico City and competing against a backdrop of global stars which included the world’s top-5 golfers and 45 players from the top-50, Sharma brilliantly rose to the occasion and captivated fans and media alike with his wonderful all-around game and charming personality. Cards of 65 and 66 pushed him into the halfway lead and a third round 69 kept him two ahead of a star-studded pack. It earned him a final day grouping with World Golf Hall of Famer, Phil Mickelson, who won the tournament for his 43rd PGA TOUR title after a pulsating final day shootout. Such was the dizzying excitement back home

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to Delhi, the letdown was greatly reduced when he received a phone call from Augusta National Golf Club, informing him that he was the recipient of a special invitation to play in the Masters Tournament. It will be his Major debut. He t weeted: “ I a m deeply honoured to be found worthy of invitation by the Masters Committee. It’s a dream come true. My gratitude.” W hatever happens come t he Masters weeks, amidst the blooming azaleas and dogwoods at August National, Sharma’s continued rise in the game, as with success shown by fellow Asians, Li Haotong of China and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, only bode well for the game in Asia and around the world. He will certainly cherish the drive along Magnolia Lane, and the road to stardom and the PGA TOUR could just be around the next turn. This could truly be a memorable spring for Sharma and Asian golf.

Sharma earned himself a final day grouping with World Golf Hall of Famer, Phil Mickelson, who won the tournament for his 43rd PGA TOUR title after a pulsating final day shootout

Chuah Choo Chiang is the Senior Director, Communications of PGA Tour and based in TPC Kuala Lumpur

AFP/Alfredo Estrella

that #GoShubhankar trended on Twitter in India during the final day in Mexico. De spite h is f i na l rou nd 74, Sha r ma stood very tall and made time for his newfound fans by taking photos with them and performed the obligatory media duties with a smile despite the huge disappointment on a day when his putter went dead cold. Mickelson, who had initially brushed Sharma off as media when the Indian tried to say “hello” to him on the practice putting green before round three, was full of praise of the young Indian. “I saw how well he struck the golf ball. He hit a beautiful tee shot on 1, and you can tell he can really play. I saw some of the putts, some of the highlights with the putter. I know he’s a very talented player, and I believe he’s leading the Order of Merit on the European Tour, so I know what a great player Mr Sharma is. I probably shouldn’t say that, he’s 26 years younger than me!” said Mickelson, who pipped reigning FedExCup No. 1 Justin Thomas with a par on the first sudden-death playoff hole to win the WGCMexico Championship. As Sharma boarded the long flight home

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INTERVIEW

Sir Nick Faldo:

Frankly

Speaking The six-time Major champion talks to Louie Chan about how he picked up the golf game, his dark days in the 80s, single-mindedness approach, Ryder Cup experiences, achievements of winning six Majors, the successful Faldo Series and the Laguna Golf La˘ng Cô, his second design in Vietnam. Photography by Jonathan Sayeb

We all know the story. You’re watching Jack Nicklaus finish runner-up at the 1971 Masters, and that inspired you to pick up the game? Sir Nick Faldo: I was looking for a sport. That’s my line. I played everything at school. I did cycling out of school, I went for tennis lessons, and they said you’re too tall back then and, in that era, you’re meant to be Rod Laver size. There were these guys in fancy colours around these trees. I love trees, and I wanted an outdoor job and to be my boss. Those were my two rules, and so there was a new sport to try. So, I went to my mum the next morning and said, “Today, I want to try golf.” They knew about Welwyn Garden City Golf Club, and so they took me, and I wandered into the pro-shop and booked my six lessons from the assistant pro, Chris Arnold. I said, “Right I’m ready”, and he said, “No, your first one is tomorrow”. So, what I learned from that now, especially with these kids, is that he installed discipline because the first lesson was the grip and the second was posture. The third lesson was alignment. I hadn’t hit a ball yet. Finally, on the fourth lesson, I hit a ball. Now, if anybody wants to learn, they hit a ball within 3 seconds. 42

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Show me that, give me a go. Unbeknownst to me, he installed that discipline of what it takes to build all of the fundamentals. I started practising, and my next-door neighbour gave me a club, a 7-iron with plastic over the shaft. I rummaged through the bushes and found 20 golf balls. My mum was a dressmaker, so she made me a little practice bag, and that was it. I used to sneak over to the school near me and to hit balls down the line of the football pitches, and there was a long jump pit at the end. I used to hit these 7 or 8 irons into this long jump pit, and I would be cross if I missed it. I went back 10 years later, and that long jump pit was 12-foot-wide and 20-foot-long, and I’m annoyed I’m missing that from 100 yards. The bottom line is, I fell in love with golf very quickly. I played my first round of golf on my 14th birthday, so I had practised for 3 months before I played my first round of golf. So, I had got past shanking, topping, missing and I could play. I think I shot in the low 80’s for my first round. I didn’t know the rules; I lost a ball what did that mean. I remember 3-putting the third and thinking that was stupid; I’ll never do that again. And so, I could at least play. By HKGOLFER.COM


Sir Nick Faldo is most proud of achieving his goal of winning six Majors HKGOLFER.COM

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Faldo’s single-mindedness approach came to bear in the Ryder Cup, which brought out some of the most amazing performances of his career

15 I fell in love with it and, at 16, I left school. It was an amazing decision by my parents, considering where we had come from. To say fine let him leave school and head to the practice ground. My parents gave me that amazing trust and, as my mother said, she knew me. She knew I would head to the practise ground rain or shine or anything and beat golf balls. I started playing amateur tournaments and started winning them. 1975 was my big year when I won the English Amateur, British Youths and Berkshire Trophy. By the old handicap system, at the start of the year I was at 3, and by the end of the year, I was at +1. Only Sandy Lyle and I were plus in the whole country with the old system. I played for Great Britain by the end of the year, so that was my rapid start to golf. Did the discipline that you had at an early age make the decision easier to change everything regarding your swing while in the midst of your professional career to get to the very top of the sport? SNF: Yes, I mean you fast forward to the end of 84, and I was European number 1 in 83. I won 5 times that year, and then I was winning every year sort of thing. Obviously, I had blown up at the open at Birkdale. Finally, I went down to South Africa in 84, and a lightbulb came on. It said: “You haven’t got it mate. This is not good enough”. This was when I met up with David Leadbetter. I chatted with a couple of other coaches before that, but David was the one that started talking about this rotation thing. He said, if we get this right, we can solve 6 problems here with one fix, and off we go. So, I thought about it, and it wasn’t until May 85’, I was in Muirfield Village and missed the cut and couldn’t hit the 12th green. I had doubled the 12th twice, and ‘Lead’ was there. I said, “Right, I’m ready to start.” And that was it, we started. It wasn’t so much a stupid decision, but it was stupid timing, ridiculous. To change your backswing in the middle of the season is like learning to throw darts and you’ve only learnt the backswing. And of course, this didn’t fit, so I started hitting it everywhere, everything went 44

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wrong. I started playing badly, really badly. In that 80’s media time, I got murdered, and those were the dark days as I call them. I was beating balls like you couldn’t believe. I went through the rest of the season and then went to Florida to hit balls with him. He was at this little place called Greenleaf somewhere south of Orlando in the middle of a forest and hit hundreds and thousands of golf balls a day. I went through all of that in the dark days. I lost sponsors through that but, amazingly, I kept my belief and determination. I don’t know how. I guess I could thank my mum for the determination to keep going and finally came out of it in Spring 1987. Do you think that experience contributed to making you such a steely competitor? SNF: I’m an only child and went to hit loads of balls on the practice ground on my own and been happy as a sandboy all day long. I could entertain myself, me and my imaginary friends, Jack, Arnold, Lee and Gary, and go off and play against them. In that era, you had to look after yourself, and it was tough. Money was tight and to have your room when you were out on tour was deemed as a luxury rather than sharing. We had to start off sharing, which my dad thought was important. I went off when it was still in that era where you would go to the HKGOLFER.COM


Faldo chats with his caddie Ryan Shaw on the first green during the 2005 Masters

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school was to go out and win. It’s very different now. You cannot win and, if you have a good character, you can probably earn £10 million without winning a tournament, but you are marketable. You are flying privately to every event, whatever car you want. So, if you win, it doesn’t change your life. But back then, I had to defend myself against Seve and Greg, plus it was the only way I knew how to play. My other defence in all of that was that I thought the best way to play was to head down and blinkers on and that’s how I felt. I even felt if I bounced out of that to react to somebody or something, it upset me, and it shouldn’t have because I had a steel trap of a mind. So that was the Faldo golf mode, head down blinkers on. How did this single-mindedness come to bear in the Ryder Cup, which, of course, brought out some of the most amazing performances of your career? SNF: The Ryder Cup is a team of two. You’re 12 in a team room, and all get on, which we did because it was a fantastic atmosphere, and everybody was pulling for each other. But when you go out to play, it’s a team of two. It’s you and your partner, and your two caddies against those two guys. That and you’re playing for a point, no prize money, so it was sheer guts. If you didn’t walk to that first tee thinking there was a way to win, you shouldn’t have been walking to the tee, especially if you weren’t feeling good. But if you were feeling great, you wanted to get to the first tee and get on with it. I’ve walked many times to that tee, and you’re not playing good, but you’ve got to muscle through it and find a way to make it happen. So that’s why the Ryder cup has this sheer, raw competitiveness spirit which makes it so fantastic. I knew it was so important that you had to win your singles on Sunday as well, and obviously, I loved the Ryder cup because of that. I know I let my guard down and Seve let his guard down, and you helped everybody. If anybody wanted a putting lesson or you saw someone’s’ swing a little off, you’re going to say so. The atmosphere was great in that era when HK GOLFER・APR 2018

AFP/Getty

bar at the end of the round, but I would go to the practice range instead, as I wasn’t deemed one of the lads. Another interesting thing from that era was what we called, ‘keeping it close to your chest’. My dad told me when he played for England that Eric Bristow didn’t stay in the England hotel. He stayed in his one down the road. He said the day they know everything about me is the day they will beat me. Back at that time, I took it and said, “OK, that works for him, that’s interesting”. You kept your cards close to your chest and put your barriers up in some way. I think everybody did it: Seve, Greg and all of us did. The other thing I talk about is that to change your lifestyle then you had to win. My first goal was to turn left on the plane into first class; it was my financial goal. Then I wanted to buy my first house, but you have to win to do this. You win £5,000, and the biggest prize then was £10,000 on the PGA. I won 5 times for £100,000 in 1983. I made the 1977 Ryder cup team with £7,000. Way back then, buying your first house was I think £60,000. My dad put in £20,000, and I was thinking, how many times have I got to win to get £40,000 after tax? If you wanted a Mercedes car, you had to go and win. Same goes for a family and children; the only way to put them into private

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Can the Faldo Series become an event of the same magnitude as the Ryder/Solheim Cup in 20 years’ time?

we started to turn things around in 83, 85, 87 and 89. That was the run that changed the whole course of the Ryder Cup about.

AFP/Getty Images

When you reflect back on your playing career, what stands out the most? SNF: What I’m most proud of is achieving my goal of winning Majors. You prepare for the Majors. The first Major you win, you feel there’s something in the air. You get a sense. I said a couple months before my first one at Muirfield, after I won in Spain and the rebuild had come good, I said to myself, “Oh I need to win one more, so I am ready for the Open”. Then, I got this sense and said to myself, “No, you’re alright. You’re ready to win the Open”. I had all of these great visualisations and images beforehand. The strongest one was sitting at the end of it and thinking, I won’t be packing Sunday night as I’ll be sitting at breakfast with the Claret Jug doing the BBC welcome to Muirfield. That was great. My first Masters was a weird one. I arrived playing well, but I couldn’t finish anything off. I would get an eight at the wrong time and end up 40th or 50th, but I was playing good. I was on the putting green, and Jack’s always nice, he asked, “How you doing, how you playing?” I said: “Well, I’m playing good Jack, but I keep screwing up every week. I don’t know whether to let it happen or make it happen.” So, Jack said: “I know exactly what you mean,” and just walks off. I wanted to say, “Jack fill in the blank, which one is it?” But I guess I let it happen. I know that as I was going down the 10th hole, after 27 holes of the tournament and leading by three, and I tried to make it happen. I had shot 6-under the first 27 and then 9-over for the next 27. Then I shot the crazy 65 on Sunday, and I win the Masters, bang. After that, what I’m proud of, in 1990, I forget about defending the Masters and instead tried to win another one. “Come on, you can do it,” I said to myself. And so, I did. My iron shots were amazing, and that put me on a hell of a run. I won that, hit the hole at the US Open [missing out on the spot in the playoff by a single shot], and I went to St Andrews on a mission to win there after 46

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that. I also went to Muirfield in 92’ with the intention to win because I was World No.1, feeling good and had just won three majors, which is different to just thinking, I feel good this week. But 1990 is the proudest year of my career. It’s different to walk down the fairway with the intention to win, even more so with the intention to win at a Major and I did that throughout that year. Who is standing out for you at the moment in world golf? SNF: Wow, the top end is pretty good, and they all shuffle around. When they’re on it’s a flip of a coin. For my TV role, when Spieth is off, I look at why he is off, maybe a technical thing. Same if Rory is off, maybe it’s because there is no spring in his step and the emotional side. Jason Day? Physically he can be off. We look to see where their weaknesses are. Not in a negative way but just to see where they are different. Rory had an incredible run, four Majors in 5 minutes and now the next one is going to be really hard work to get across the line. Now we have Justin Thomas hot in a role against Dustin Johnson and some youngsters coming through. Tommy Fleetwood for Europe and Hatton who will be new names for the Ryder Cup. HKGOLFER.COM


Not many golf courses have so many different visual or environmental changes like Laguna Golf La˘ ng Cô designed by Sir Nick Faldo

Tough Course? SNF: Yeah that golf course can play tough especially in September with a big old bit of European wind which could play in our favour. We have a really good backbone which is the most important thing, and then hopefully you have a few rookies who have a blinder. The Faldo Series has been something that has materialised over the past few years. How far do you want to take that and where do you want to go next? SNF: Well, things are going well. We’ve done HKGOLFER.COM

20-plus years of the series and have taken it all over the world, literally global. And I’ve created this new event, the Major Champions Invitational, so I’m chuffed about that. I’ve made something happen, brought together Major Champions with a real vehicle. Rory will pick players from his foundation, as will Adam Scott in Australia and Annika Sorenstam from all four corners of the world - the same as I will do from my series and my series winners. With this event, we Major Champions have a cool opportunity to say to junior golfers, “I have my eyes on you”. So, this kid can be thinking, wow, Adam Scott thinks I’m a good golfer. We’ve created this event, and I hope it’s successful and everyone says they want to come back next year and that it becomes instantly recognisable, which it should do with all the media attention because of its uniqueness. I hope that the kids who win people will know that boy and that girl won the Major Champions Invitational, they are off and running in their golf careers. I said to myself when you think of it, Samuel Ryder started a pretty darn good even, and he was a seed merchant in St Albans, and Karsten Solheim created the women’s version, so why can’t there be a Faldo event of that magnitude in 20 years’ time. The Faldo Series has taken place in Hong Kong for several years, how important has this been for golf out there? SNF: Tom Philips was my series director, and he carried it through to out there. The great thing about my event is that the kids want to play it and are motivated to, and this is particularly true of Hong Kong. The most gratifying thing to me is hearing about young golfers who travel because they want to make the teams across Asia. It’s a similar story in Europe where my son Matthew manages the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany and Slovakia. The great thing is, if the kids don’t qualify for one event, they jump into their car and travel to the next. The kids want to win and want to come to the Grand Final, and that’s the best compliment I can get. CONTINUED ON PAGE 74... HK GOLFER・APR 2018

AFP/Getty Images

With the Ryder Cup soon, do you think there has been a bit of a shift in how the US seems to have a new vibrancy in the team? SNF: What they have found is partnerships. Amazingly, when Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley had their great run together and won 3 out of their 4 matches, they were second on the list of greatest partnerships, with Arnold Palmer and Gardner Dickinson being top back in the 60’s. But that was back at Medinah. Now the USA have found some new partnerships. But Europe has a great backbone and are pretty balanced again after people thought it might be one-sided after the Presidents Cup. Paris in September could be 60-odd degrees, a bit of rain and croissants flying everywhere. They want 65,000 people in there for 4 matches so that it will be busy.

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BUNKER MENTALITY

Pros Can't Have Their

Cake and

Eat It As Mike Wilson writes, the richly-rewarded young men blessed with a God-given talent need to take a reality check and accept the adage that whoever pays the piper calls the tune.

I

magine an English Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United, the Old Tra f ford out f it win ning a lastm i nute p ena lt y i n f ront of a n out raged a nd uproa r iou s Kop. Spot-kick-taker Romelu Lukaku is pleading for silence before lining up his attempt on goal, or complaining to the referee about the inevitable jeers, boos, brickbats and insults during his run-up as he attempts to snatch three vital – and potentially championshipwinning – points for the Old Trafford Outfit. Or Roger Federer is stopping play and pleading for calm during a vital rally in the f inal set of the Wimbledon f inal against h is a rchriva l Nova k Djokovic wit h t he

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US$3mil lion winner ’s check a nd world number-one ranking up for grabs. Yet, that’s exactly what is emerging in men’s professiona l gol f. Current world number-t wo Justin Thomas bleating on course and later in the media room about audience participation at the Genesis Open. Rory McIlroy also claimed the galleries following gave him a headache and that he needed, “A couple of Advil,” to combat fan behaviour on course. And all because of a few rowdy fans or for the sake of argument, let’s call them paying customers - whooping and hollering. Albeit mindlessly as this richly talented and even more richly-rewarded young man out of Louisville, Kentucky went about his business

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AFP/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy recently ventured the view that crowd involvement from the ‘Get-inthe-hole,’ and, ’Mashed potato,’ brigade cost Tiger Woods at least a couple of shots per round

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AFP/Getty Images

Current world number-two Justin Thomas bleating on course and later in the media room about audience participation at the Genesis Open 52

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on the tees and greens of the luxury resort that is the Riviera Country Club in California in February, he might be well advised not to bite the hands that feed him. “I guess they just think it’s funny,” said t he 24 -year-old, adding, “ It was prett y wild [those] first couple of days, the fans’ behaviour got a little bit out of hand.” Thomas, who eventually f inished tied n i nt h a nd ea rn i ng a more t ha n decent US$180,000 bemoaned after it was all over, including the shouting, “It was alright for a little bit today,” before bellyaching, “But there at the end, it got a little out of hand. “It might be funny to them, and obviously people think of it differently, and I could just be overreacting,” he concluded. Just what would his fellow Kentuckian, the late, great ‘Louisville Lip,’ Muhammad Ali have made of it all? The master of spin before spin doctors had been thought of, Ali knew what box office was, putting bums on seats and selling pay-per-view TV. And young Master Thomas, a very nice young man by all accounts would do well to take a leaf out of the great man’s book and be thankful for what he’s got.

Thomas even took matters into his own ha nd s by persona l ly eject i ng a heck ler from the following week’s Honda Classic which he won, adding a more than healthy US$1,188,000, taking his career earnings to close on US$40m - not bad for a man of just 24-years-old. Excellent work if you can get it and surely worth putting up with the occasional taunt from a few fans? But Thomas is not alone. Earlier in February, at the attractively-named Waste Management Open in Scottsdale, Arizona, where the PGA TOUR has created a rod for its own back by nominating the 16th hole on the Stadium Course for player-and-fan engagement. Where, it seems, anything goes, Thomas’s Ryder Cup teammate Rickie Fowler was bemoaning the conduct of a small but vociferous minority of the 719,179 paying public. “I may be somewhat of a fan favourite, but they weren’t holding back,” Fowler said, adding “I was a little disappointed with some of the stuff that was said, and I don’t want much negativity. The normal boos for missing a green, that’s fine, but leave the heckling to a minimum.” Even Australian Marc Leishman’s wife HKGOLFER.COM


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and Stripes inside and outside the ropes - and some Europeans too - will be high-fiving it, egging each other on, echoes of the infamous ‘War on the Shore,’ at Kiawah Island in 1991. Pumped-up Poulter, big beasts of the golfing jungle, like Bubba, Lefty and DJ, even Tiger if he plays, deep in the heat of battle are capable of – and probably will – act with the same impunity inside the ropes as the get-in-thehole birdbrains will outside them and golf. And professional golfers must learn to play the game in the adversarial context of 2018 and beyond. Professional golf a quarter-of-a-century on f rom what wa s nad i r of gol f bea rs little resemblance to what is now sportsentertainment as opposed to pure sport. And the quicker Messers Thomas, Fowler, McIlroy et al., get their heads around that fact, the better it will be for all, and some of the declines in the game’s popularity may even be reversed. So, a message to every self-obsessed young golf star, to be pinned on every locker room door and writ large on the dashboard of every luxury, chauffeur-driven courtesy limousine, ‘Who pays the piper calls the tune.’ And, ‘if you can’t stand the heat in a very lucrative kitchen,’ find yourself another line of work.

Thomas’s Ryder Cup teammate Rickie Fowler also bemoaned the conduct of a small but vociferous minority of the paying public at the Waste Management Open HK GOLFER・APR 2018

AFP/Getty Images

took to the airwaves slamming US fans abusive conduct as last year’s President’s Cup. Partisan US fans - fuelled no doubt on weak beer, fine wines or strong vodka courtesy of official sponsors Michelob, David Frost Wines and Grey Goose vodka - calling for International players’ to hit their ball into the vast Liberty Straits waterways. Mild stuff compared to the vile racist and homophobic abuse dished out at every football ground in the UK every weekend, including taunts about Manchester United Munich air crash, reciprocated by abusive songs about the Hillsborough disaster, even the mimicking of hissing gas Nazi death camps aimed at the traditionally Jewish Tottenham Hotspur. Rory McIlroy recently ventured the view that crowd involvement from the ‘Get-in-thehole,’ and, ’Mashed potato,’ brigade cost Tiger Woods at least a couple of shots per round. But, in all fairness to the back-to-form star, he took it all in his considerable stride, and it didn’t do him too much harm, did it? And, talking of the Ryder Cup, where hostilities between Europe and the USA will be resumed in the sedate, leafy outskirts of Paris in September. Don’t tell me that the Stars

53


THE KILTED CADDIE

Joe

Public Will Have

No

Say

The Kilted Caddie expresses his opinion about the significant changes concerning the Rules of Golf and the Handicap System…

W

it h rega rd s to t he lat ter t here wil l, as from 2020, b e a si n g le world ha nd icap system ba sed on t he US model which averages all the rounds that you play including social ones. I think this is fairer as it reflects more a person’s overall ability and should ward against so-called ‘bandits’. However, the maximum handicap is going up to 54 to try and induce less able players to the game. Unfortunately, a

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negative and slightly cynical me thinks this could lead to a few problems. Golfers can be an awfully canny lot when big prizes are floating around the amateur circuit. As for the Rule changes they are mostly straightforward and sensible with the aim of speeding up play. Hoorah! For instance, you may now putt on the green with the flagstick unattended, only look three minutes for your ball and take forty seconds to play your shot. All well and good here and this has received much caddie approval. However, we then have the exception to Rule 6-6d and what I

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AFP/Getty Images

Lee Westwood talks with rules official about taking a relief drop on at the 2012 Masters


AFP/Getty Images

Lexi Thompson received four penalty shots in the ANA Invitational back in 2017

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call the Lexi Thompson camp appeasement rule. For this has surely been introduced to placate those who feel that the young Texan lass was unduly hard done to when she received four penalty shots in the ANA Invitational back in 2017. But let ’s look aga i n at what exac t ly happened here as I think it is important for the world of golf writ large and deserves to be scrutinised with the objectivity and seriousness that it deserves. What happened then? Well essentially, some bloke sitting on his sofa, I think in Wisconsin, was enjoying the TV coverage of the event and noticed that Lexi did not replace her ball properly. He picked up the phone to alert the golfing authorities at the event who agreed and gave her the penalties, to the stupefaction of Lexi and her fans. Now to say t hat I a m monu menta l ly suspicious of her mot ives here is a

preposterous and gross understatement. Look at what happened over the marking of this 2-foot putt. Firstly, she stands in a very awkward position to mark her ball, in fact almost at right angles to the ball-hole line. Why? Then she places the marker at a skewed position in relation to this line, lifts the ball and replaces it. Interestingly, when challenged next day she said, ‘I just put it right in front’, which indeed may well be true, and I do in fact accept that bit is true. But sorry Lexi, you sure didn’t mark it right behind! We ain’t living in some quantum universe here my dear. That inch didn’t just pop out of some wandering and errant black hole. Anyway, whatever one thinks, we now have a rat her wonderf ul exception r ule to forestall retrospective penalties, and indeed, the introduction of video analysis to the game. But, unfortunately, no longer

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for eagle-eyed dudes hanging out on sofas in Wisconsin I’m afraid. Joe Public will have no say. A nd oh, by the by, a new rule allows you to repair spike marks on the green! It wouldn’t have helped Lexi anyway because she said there weren’t any spike marks on those greens. Hmm. Ok, I realise that the stakes are very high in sport nowadays and particularly so in professional golf. But we are and have always been an honourable, untainted and noble sport. Let’s try and keep it that way. For

we don’t want to go the way of FIFA with its shenanigans and that game’s pathetic professional foul nonsense. Nor indeed the dreaded doping claim fiascos of athletics and cycling. And now, of course, the balltampering of cricket. Yes, cricket. For go o d ne s s sa ke! T he Au st ra l ia n captain, the second most esteemed bloke in the country, the best player in the world. Admits to cheating. It’s enough to make you start greeting. Please go to thekiltedcaddie.com to find out more about The Kilted Caddie

The most significant adjustments made following review of the feedback received from golfers around the world with respect to the Rules of Golf change include: DROPPING PROCEDURE: When taking relief (from an abnormal course condition or penalty area, for example), golfers will now drop from knee height. This will ensure consistency and simplicity in the dropping process while also preserving the randomness of the drop.  Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested dropping from any height. MEASURING IN TAKING RELIEF: The golfer’s relief area will be measured by using the longest club in his/her bag (other than a putter) to measure one club-length or two club-lengths, depending on the situation, providing a consistent process for golfers to establish his/her relief area.  Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 suggested a 20-inch or 80-inch standard measurement. REMOVING THE PENALTY FOR A DOUBLE HIT:  The penalty stroke for accidentally striking the ball more than once in the course of a stroke has been removed. Golfers will simply count the one stroke they made to strike the ball.   Key change: the proposed Rules released in 2017 included the existing one-stroke penalty. BALLS LOST OR OUT OF BOUNDS: Alternative to Stroke and Distance:  A new Local Rule will now be available in January 2019, permitting committees to allow golfers the option to drop the ball in the vicinity of where the ball is lost or out of bounds (including the nearest fairway area), under a two-stroke penalty. It addresses concerns raised at the club level about the negative impact on pace of play when a player is required to go back under stroke and distance. The Local Rule is not intended for higher levels of play, such as professional or elite level competitions.  Key change:  this is a new addition to support pace of play.

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59


FEATURE

A 2,011km Golf Odyssey Across Mongolia The

Longest Hole The Finale

Former Hong Kong rugby player Adam Rolston and caddie-friend Ron Rutland have finished the longest hole in golf after 80 days and 20,093 shots across Mongolia. Rolston rolled in a tricky eight-foot putt on the 18th green of the Mt Bogd Golf Club in Ulaanbaatar, to bring an end to the strangest hole in golfing history... Photography by Andrew King


"I suffered for a couple of weeks with pretty bad back spasms and probably the stiffest neck I have ever had‌ But, there was never one second, we thought we wouldn't make it. Ron was a hero. He only recently came off from a hip surgery ten-month before this trip! And he will probably require a full replacement in the next few months... What he accomplished is something superhuman. There are only a handful of people who have walked across Mongolia, and he did it pulling a 100kg cart. A remarkable feat."


“Ron and I couldn't be prouder of what we achieved. 2,011km is a long way. It has taught me to be more patient, and things come to those who wait. At some points of the trip, when you are mid-way through an 800km dessert cross... You can never imagine you will get to that little flag in Ulaanbaatar, but, here we are. We did it!�


“The Mongolian are some of the toughest people in the world! They opened their doors to us at every opportunity, offering us everything they had. Ron and I will treasure that!"


“This dog travelled 2,000km across Mongolia! No dog in recent history has ever gone so far. His story is incredible. After the putt went in, we were still looking for a beautiful home for him. He is about ten years old and couldn’t come with me back to Hong Kong; it just wouldn’t be fair. He is a Mongolian and imprisoning such a free spirit in a flat in HK would be hell! A few great decisions and luck saw us visit Terelj National Park, where we found the most beautiful home for our teammate. It was an epic ending to our trip and ultimately then, was the trip complete! Very emotional.”


“As a golfer, 3-putt is something you try to avoid like the plague. Imagine hitting golf balls continuously for 80 days and only having one opportunity to putt… The thoughts of "what happens if I 3-putt after all this 80-DAY OF WORK" really bothered me. Finally, you got there, facing with a 45- footer which slides past the cup by 8 feet. Now, everything you have imagined is happening. You now have that 8-footer just like your nightmares. And then to say "F**k this" and hole it in front of 200 to 300 people watching feels just like winning a Major! Tiger fist pump to see it in! I will take that feeling to the grave!”

FINAL NOTE: “We have got a documentary on the way. We are premiering it at the Cape Town Adventure Film Festival on 20th April. And we will keep all the HK golfers updated about an ‘HK Premier’ soon!”


A two bedroom lateral apartment, overlooking the prestigious Cadogan Square. Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, London, UK • Guide price £6,250,000

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3 bedrooms apartment with views over the world famous Royal Albert Hall. Albert Hall Mansions, Kensington, London, UK • Guide price £4,850,000

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M: + 44 (0) 7716 860 571

T: + 44 (0) 20 7935 5797

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CROSSWORD

THE MASTERS! ©2018 Dr Milton Wayne

72

ACROSS

DOWN

1. See 20A 3. See 8A 5. (& 23D) Six-time winner 7. (& 12D) Reigning champ 8. (& 3A) First ever winner 10. (& 33A) His “Shot Heard Around The World” 11. See 4D 13. Record lowest score below par 14. Legendary founder Bobby 17. See 5D 19. (& 25A) Home of The Masters 20. (& 1A) South African, 1st non-US winner 21. (& 6D) a.k.a. Holes 11-13 25. See 19A 27. See 2D 28. This is the first one of the year 29. (& 14D) What the winner wears 31. (& 30D) Only Scot to win - 30 years ago! 32. Home state (and Ray Charles song!) 33. See 10A

1. Fun competition on Wednesday (3,5) 2. (& 27A) Surprise Canadian champ in 2003 3. See 19D 4. (& 11A) First European winner, in 1980 5. (& 17A) Joint lowest score holder, won in 2015 6. See 21A 9. See 15D 11. The “Wee Ice Mon”, twice a winner (3,5) 12. See 7A 14. See 29A 15. (& 9D) 3-time English winner 16. (& 18D) Course designer 18. See 16D 19. (& 3D) Only Australian winner (2013) 22. (& 26D) Famous entranceway 23. See 5A 24. (& 27D) He has the biggest winning margin (5,5) 26. See 22D 27. See 24D 30. See 31A

HK GOLFER・APR 2018

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WIN "THE GOLFERS" PRINT To enter, complete the crossword and send a scan or photo of the completed grid to Crossword@HKGolfer.com, with “April Crossword” as the subject. Remember to include your name, address and contact number. Entries close on 15 May 2018. ONE LUCKY WINNER WILL BE DRAWN FROM THE CORRECT ENTRIES.

A luxury print, measuring 38” x 26”, has been produced and is available exclusively in Asia through the HK Golfer. Each print is accompanied by a printed key identifying each of the characters, and makes the perfect gift for any golfer. Yo u m ay a ls o v isi t H KG o l f e r Sh o p. co m, w r i te to store@hkgolfer.com or call us on 3590 4153 if you wish to purchase a print for only HK$888 (inc. free delivery).

PREVIOUS ANSWERS

Congratulations to Brian Mulcahy of North Point who won the January crossword.

Hill & Adamson, “The Golfers” HKGOLFER.COM

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73


"I’m very lucky I get treated like royalty. This is almost like my own private hotel."

...CONTINUED FROM PAGE 47 It doesn’t look like you have stopped with the golf course design here at Laguna Lăng Cô. It looks like a continuous push for the end goal. SNF: With this one, I started coming back for all sorts of reasons. Either to do something business-wise here and then we kept coming back for the golf, and then we brought the Faldo Series here, so I’ve been coming back to this location almost twice a year for about six or seven years, and we can keep adjusting the golf course. Keep fine-tuning. This thing is alive, and you don’t know when you put the golf course in what grass will grow and what won’t. The jungle does this and that and all sorts of things. What features stand out on this particular course? SNF: The coolest thing is how unique it is. When you tour it, you start in rice fields, and the great thing about this is that it’s bringing it all back to the vision we had. It’s a tough project. It’s money, it’s time and working hours, but we are bringing to life those first four holes through the rice fields. Then you go through a bit of jungle, so that’s different. Then you pop out on what was a lovely sandbar, a ridge that we placed a green on top of, very Aussie-style. Then we have the beach, so that’s another environment. Not many golf courses have so many different visual or environmental changes which I think gives Laguna La ˘ ng Cô good memorability. I would like people to be able to remember each hole. They all have their character. Can you give us any insight into plans that you have or any changes? SNF: Just tinkering and putting new bunkers in. We’re putting a new bunker in on the third. They’ve done a great job of clearing it out, and it’s really come alive. It was too difficult previously. There was rough that was like a wire brush, so I said: “Blitz it! Get rid of everything and give the golfers a chance. Blitz it all out the back of 5, 6 and 7 and make them look cool”. T. We actually might build another fun par-3 74

HK GOLFER・APR 2018

left of number 9, so we could shut down a hole with conditioning in mind from time to time, and golfers can play another fun little par-3 along the beach which would be very good. Do you feel quite at home here now at Laguna Lăng Cô? SNF: Yeah, I enjoy it here. I’m very lucky I get treated like royalty. This is almost like my own private hotel (the Banyan Tree, Angsana and Laguna Park residences). It’s really cool to come back to waiters and waitresses who know what I want. I can say, “My usual please,” even though I’ve been gone for six months. The quality of life here is pretty darn good. I’ve got a beautiful villa on top of the rocks up there, you’ve got the spa appointments, and you can come here and switch off. What are you going to do to switch off when you’re here? SNF: If I get time then the spa, I love to spa. I have a busy season with TV, and it’s all go right now. I’ve already planned my month in Montana for September, so that I can disappear. Golfing, fishing and biking. Lots of scenery and watch the sun rise and set. For more information about golf and residences at Laguna Lăng Cô, please visit www.lagunalangco.com HKGOLFER.COM


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