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HK Golfer Event Season: Junior and Senior Close Champs in review

THE OFF I C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E H O NG KO NG GOLF ASSOCIATION

HKGA.COM

ISSUE 34

MAY/JUNE 2008

Eastern

Promise Kau Sai Chau's Sensational New Course

PLUS: Golf in Vietnam, Jean Van de Velde and New Gear Guide...


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HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

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HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

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Contents

HK Golfer Issue 34

May/June 2008

37 Features

Plus…

14 | City Golf: Manila

09 | Clubhouse

Even if just you’re there on business, squeezing in a round of two at one of the capital’s fine courses is well worth the effort.

16 | MacGregor Junior Close

Style, news and stats

10 | Divots

News from HK and around the region

Tiffany Chan and Charles Stone, two of HK’s rising stars, recorded highly impressive victories at the SAR’s premier junior golf championship.

20 | Junior Golf

24 | Golfing the Ho Chi Minh Trail

20 | MacGregor Seniors Close

Why Vietnam is well on the way to becoming the next big thing in Asian golf.

37 | More Beauty than Beast

A review of the new $300 million East Course at Kau Sai Chau.

52 | Old World Charm

Eccentricities abound at Sri Lanka’s Royal Colombo Golf Club.

Event news, prof iles and training with Brad Schadewitz

Resolute experts

Pethes putts his way to second successive title

36 | Spring Ladies Event

Rani reigns supreme at Clearwater Bay

Single-minded focus, experience, passion; fuelling a business that does better by clients.

33 | Up Close

A Frenchman in Hong Kong: Jean Van de Velde

42 | Land Rover Spring Men’s Tournament Liu Lok-tin comes of age with impressive Fanling victory

44 | Pro Shop

Practitioners of the craft of private banking

Gear, fitness and instruction

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HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

The 18th hole at the new Nelson & Haworth-designed East Course at Kau Sai Chau. Photo by: Robin Moyer

51 | Golf Homes Live and play

Robin Moyer

On the Cover:

54 | Final Shot With Nick Wong

WWW.HKGA.COM

Hong Kong: 41st Floor • Two Exchange Square • 8 Connaught Place, Central Hong Kong • Tel +852 2298 3000 #42 OUB Centre • Singapore 048616 • Telephone +65 6438 2668 • Also in Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila and Taipei

Singapore: 1 Raffles Place

EFG Bank is part of EFG International, which operates in 30 locations in over 50 countries. For more information, visit www.efginternational.com


From the President Dear Golfer, As you can see from this latest issue, HK Golfer has undergone a transformation of both design and editorial content. I hope you enjoy the new-look magazine. The cover story of this issue (More Beauty Than Beast, page 37) highlights the beautiful new East Course at The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course. Kau Sai Chau has been crucial to the development of golf in Hong Kong over the past thirteen years and with the opening of its third course, I hope that many more Hong Kongers, especially youngsters, will take up the game as a result. Golf’s future growth lies with the young and they should be encouraged whenever possible. Hong Kong might not rival its Southeast Asian neighbours in terms of the number of courses available, but in Kau Sai Chau we have arguably one of the finest public golf facilities in the world. I very much hope that aside from providing a first-rate golfing experience to the Hong Kong public, Kau Sai Chau can soon establish itself as a centre of golfing excellence. Most major golfing nations have such facilities, and for Hong Kong to be a force internationally, increasing the standard of play among our junior and national teams is necessary. To have a place where the SAR’s most talented junior players can practice and receive tuition would go a long way to achieving that. Continuing with junior golf, I was delighted to attend the recent MacGregor Hong Kong Junior Close Championship at The Hong Kong Golf Club. Despite the difficult playing conditions on day one of the championship, I was impressed by many of the performances and congratulate both Charles Stone and Tiffany Chan on their fine victories. In addition, I wish Tiffany, Demi and Ginger Mak well when they represent Hong Kong at the 30th Queen Sirikit Cup – Asia Pacific Ladies’ Invitational Golf Team Championship at Sodegaura Country Club in Japan at the end of this month. The experience, I’m sure, will be of great benefit in their development and maturity as international golfers. Congratulations also to Joe Pethes who played fine golf enroute to defending his title at the MacGregor Hong Kong Seniors Amateur Close Championship at Clearwater Bay Golf Club. Joe is clearly in a rich vein of form and I hope he, and all other Hong Kong players, will be able to return strong performances at the Hong Kong Seniors Open Amateur Championship and the Asia Pacific Seniors Golf Championship event in Malaysia, both of which will be played in November.

HK Golfer THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION May/June 2008 • Issue 34

Editor: Alex Jenkins email: alex.jenkins@hkga.com Sub-editor: Linda Tsang Contributors: Brad Schadewitz, Dr. Brian Choa, Heidi Reyes, Iain Roberts, James Spence, Nicholas Wong Photography: Gareth Jones, Patrick Leung, Robin Moyer Published by:

TIMES INTERNATIONAL CREATION Times International Creation Limited 20/F, Central Tower 28 Queen’s Road Central Hong Kong Phone: +852 2159-9427 • Fax: +852 3007-0793 Publisher: Charles McLaughlin Art Director: Mimi Cheng Office Manager: Moira Moran Accounting Manager: Christy Wong Advertising For advertising information, please contact: Matthew Jackson at +852 2832-2914; matthew@tcob-media.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: hkgolf@hkga.com / handicaps@hkga.com

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HK GOLFER is printed in Hong Kong by Regal Printing Limited, Good Prospect Factory Bldg, 33-35 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Hong Kong.

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My year-long tenure as President of the Hong Kong Golf Association ends at the beginning of June and I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Richard Siemens into the role. I’m sure he’ll do a marvelous job.

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It has given me great pleasure to preside over the past twelve months. I believe it has been a productive year and I would like to thank all the HKGA staff and volunteers for all their hard work and effort. The objective now is to push for greater success, both in local golfing circles and internationally where, unfortunately, Hong Kong’s performances have lagged in recent times. Hugh de Lacy Staunton President Hong Kong Golf Association

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Clubhouse

I WILL BE HEADING TO THE OLYMPIC GAMES IN BEJING THIS SUMMER AND I AM WONDERING IF SHOULD TAKE MY GOLF CLUBS. I UNDERSTAND THAT MOST OF THE COURSES IN THE CAPITAL ARE STRICTLY PRIVATE AND WON’T ACCEPT VISITORS WITHOUT BEING ACCOMPANIED BY A MEMBER. ARE THERE ANY DECENT COURSES I CAN PLAY?

 FANCY STAT

Q+A

Style, News and Stats

Lardos Steakhouse 4B Hang Hau Village Tseung Kwan O Tel: 2719-8168

 19TH HOLE

LOVING LARDOS

Ideally located for those returning from rounds at Kau Sai Chau and Clearwater Bay, Lardos Steakhouse is the perfect antidote for the hungry golfer. Situated on an otherwise forgettable street in Hang Hau Village, the surroundings are about as unpretentious as you could imagine: a public car park and 7-11 immediately to the left, a slew of cha chaan tengs to the right and a minibus stop slap bang in front. But that’s hardly the point. It’s the food inside that counts, and Lardos provides what is easily the best steak in the New Territories—and quite possibly the whole of Hong Kong. Owned by Henry Thiel, a Dane who distributes his steaks to a slew of five-star hotels and clubs around town, Lardos is a carnivore’s paradise. Beautifully marbled cuts from Australia, the U.S. and Canada—including Black Angus and Wagyu—are what makes this place famous, although there’s also a great selection of lamb, clam and mussel dishes for those who prefer to give the cow a miss. The gigantic servings of O.B. Prime Ribs (the O.B. stands for oven-prepared), meanwhile, are designed for those who like to share. Side dishes include creamy spinach, fat fries and mash. Service, led by general manager Kendra Lau, is exemplary, while the wine list features a solid line-up of New World reds and French and Italian whites. Stella Artois on tap and bottles of James Boag from Tasmania should satisfy those in need of extra refreshment, while everyone will love the fact that there is no service charge and that the very same meat goes for more than twice the price in restaurants more centrally located. Dinner for two (including drinks): $600 Opening Hours: 12-2pm and 6-10.30pm (7 days a week)

NUMBERS GAME

Course record at the North Course, Kau Sai Chau, set by Derek Fung during the third leg of the 2004 HKPGA Order of Merit: 66 Course record at the Composite Course, The Hong Kong Golf Club, set by Simon Yates during the third round of the 2005 UBS Hong Kong Open: 61

TIGER’S HANDICAP

+8.0

Based on performances at h is la st f ive PG A Tour events prior to last month’s Masters, this is what Tiger Woods’ handicap index would be if he had to maintain one. His scores from the Masters couldn’t be assessed because Augusta National has never requested an official USGA rating. However, in 1991, a covert ratings team from Golf Digest released their unofficial findings that put the course rating at 76.2 and the slope rating at 148. In other words, it plays extremely tough. A round of 80 would result in a handicap differential of 2.8! Due to the course’s lengthening in recent years, those ratings would likely be even higher today.

Absolutely. While you’re right that many of the city’s premier courses do operate a stringent members (and guests) only policy, there are a handful of quality clubs that welcome visitors during the week—and some that accept bookings on weekends too. Huatang International Golf Club (RMB1,040; weekdays only; huatang-golf.com), a Graham Marsh design situated close to the Chao Bai River in the eastern district of Yanjiao, is a fun parkland course that, despite strong greenside bunkering, isn’t too intimidating to play. Most convenient for Olympics visitors is the brand new JMP-designed Qinghe Bay Golf & Country Club (RMB965-1,450; 155 Qinghe Road) in the shadow of the ‘Bird’s Nest’ National Stadium. Eventually fifty-four holes are to be built here, but for now this enjoyable course offers pristine bentgrass playing surfaces and, by August, thirty-six well-thought-out holes. For those willing to travel a little further out of the city, try Taiwei Sports Resort (RMB1,020-1,400; +86/1060-725-566), a beautiful but demanding course laid out amid ancient persimmon groves in the foothills of mystical Buddha Mountain.

 NEWS

GEL’S HURRION RANGE

Course record at the Old Course, St Andrews, set by Graeme McDowell during the first round of the 2004 Dunhill Links Championship (a record shared by Brian Davis and amateur Kevin McAlpine): 62 The number of years John Durham’s course record of 94, set in 1767, stood at the Old Course, St Andrews: 86

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HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

Ever since appearing on the wrist of Steve McQueen in the 1971 flick Le Mans, Tag Heuer has been synonymous with sport—especially motor racing. And although the bond between the Swiss watchmaker and fast cars is as strong as ever (Lewis Hamilton is the brand’s latest high profile recruit), its association with other sports, most notably golf, has increased markedly. Following on from the launch of the successful Professional Golf Watch a few years back, the company’s popularity among golfers has grown further thanks to a range of new timepieces that embrace both elegance and structural toughness. The Link Calibre S (pictured), part of the Tiger Woods-endorsed Link series, is such a model. An innovative electro-mechanical chronograph, the refined lines of the Calibre S give it a sophisticated, contemporary look, while a robust steel bracelet and scratch-resistant face ensures its appeal with those of an adventurous nature. $21,800 Contact: www.tagheuer.com

“ First of all, I’d like to thank Tiger for not being here. That always makes things a little bit easier. ”

Robin Moyer WWW.HKGA.COM

HIGH OCTANE, HIGH CALIBRE

GEL Golf has come a long way since their early 2007 launch. Since then, the Hong Kong-based putter company has recorded its first tour win (at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open) and an increased distribution network means that their products now reach a truly global golf audience. The big news this month is the introduction of their new line of putters—the Paul Hurrion Signature Range. Far more stylish than their predecessors, these elegant flatsticks bear the name of the noted sports biomechanist and putting coach who claims that his designs incorporate over ten years of study and research into the art and science of putting. The range comprises four models, including the Rego (pictured), an alignment-friendly face-balanced blade. $2,330. Contact: www.gelgolf.com

Beijing’s Huatang International Golf Club is a good choice for those who want to take a day away from watching the Olympics.

Course record at the par-seventy two, 7,700-yard Pyongyang Golf Club, set in 1994, by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il: 34 Number of rounds of golf Kim had played before his record-setting performance: 0 Number of bodyguards who verified his score: 17

 TEE TIME

- Sergio Garcia, after winning the Players Championship

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HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

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Divots

Hong Kong Golf News

Seniors Events Update

If you are a keen senior golfer with a handicap of 12 or less, we hope you’ll make a note of the following dates in your diary: 29 – 31 October: Following last year’s successful inaugural match against the Philippines Seniors team, the HKGA is hosting the return leg over the Eden Course at The Hong Kong Golf Club. Each team will comprise ten players. We’re very much looking forward to entertaining the Philippines team and returning the hospitality that many of us received in 2007. We also hope to revenge our narrow loss and to win back the cup presented by HKGA President Hugh Staunton. 5 – 7 November: The HK Seniors’ Open Championship, which will be held over the New Course at The Hong Kong Golf Club. Entry forms will soon be available at www.hkga.com. 11 – 13 November: Asia Pacific Golf Championship 2008 Seniors Tournament, which will be held at the Nexus Golf Resort in Karambunai, Sabah, Malaysia. As in previous years, part of the event features a team competition where players will represent their countries. The HKGA will reimburse some of the Hong Kong team members’ expenses. You may be aware that the HKGA has formed a Seniors Committee which is responsible for looking after the interests of senior golfers in Hong Kong. The members of this committee are Hugh Staunton, Joe Pethes, Ted Ling, David Connolly, Jerry Greene, CC Wong and Mike Grimsdick. If you would like to be considered for selection for the Philippines match or the APGC team event please write or email HKGA Chief Executive Iain Valentine – iain.valentine@hkga.com.

Johnnie Walker HK Classic Returns to Clearwater Bay

After last year’s successful inaugural event, the Johnnie Walker Hong Kong Classic will one again return to Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club on 3 June. The eighteen hole Stableford tournament, featuring both Men’s and Ladies’ Gross and Nett divisions, proved to be one of the most popular on the HKGA event calendar—and the 2008 edition is set to follow suit after yet another massive number of entries. Rob Keys won the 2007 event after recording 31 Gross points, while Kwong Foo-man triumphed in the Nett Division with an impressive 42 point haul.

New Pro Shop Website

The Hong Kong Golf Club’s Professional Shop has gone online. Featuring information from both its Fanling and Deep Water Bay locations, the website also includes details of the Iain Roberts Golf School, as well as club fitting and repair services and corporate golf day booking details. An online store is expected to be up and running within the next few weeks. Visit www.hkgolfclub.org/proshop

Julius Baer Inter-Club League Announcement

The HKGA is delighted to announce that Julius Baer has committed to support the Inter-Club League this year. The leading wealth manager in Switzerland will be the 2008 title sponsor of the Hong Kong’s premier club championship season. “Julius Baer has been a long term and dedicated partner of golf in Hong Kong, and I am thrilled to welcome them onboard for what will surely be an exciting series of events”, said Chief Executive of the HKGA Iain Valentine. For the latest results and standings of the Julius Baer Inter-Club League please turn to page 49. 10

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New Asian Tour Line-up for Team Fortis

Fortis is maintaining its commitment to professional golf by sponsoring three Asian Tour players – Hong Kong’s David Freeman, pictured, Rahil Gangjee (India) and Anthony Kang (United States) – as members of Team Fortis in the 2008 Asian Tour. The financial services provider has also announced that it will sponsor the Fortis International Challenge for the second consecutive year. This World Cup qualifying tournament will be held at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during September. “We are excited to have such promising talent from the 2008 Asian Tour as members of this year’s Team Fortis,” said Stuart Fraser, CEO of Fortis Insurance Company (Asia) Limited. “We are particularly pleased to be sponsoring David Freeman during his maiden year as a full playing member of the Asian Tour, and have high hopes that this year we will see a win from at least one member of Team Fortis.” WWW.HKGA.COM


Braid Classic to Undergo Renovation

Regional Golf News LPGA Event Lands in China

Sixty-three of the world’s best women golfers will be heading to the region later this year following the addition of the Grand China Air LPGA tournament to the 2008 LPGA schedule. The US$1.8 million event will be held at West Coast Golf Club (pictured above) on Hainan Island, which is situated 30 minutes from the provincial capital of Haikou. The event, which will be held from 24-26 October, will be the first LPGA tournament to be held in China and the fourth in Asia, following events in Japan, Korea and Singapore.

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Singapore Island Country Club, which has a reciprocal arrangement with The Hong Kong Golf Club, has retained the course architects at Golfplan - Fream, Dale & Ramsey to comprehensively redesign 36 of the club’s 72 holes, beginning this autumn. Central to Golfplan’s charge is refurbishment of SICC’s Bukit Course (pictured below), a James Braid design that, at one time or another, has hosted every important professional tournament in Asia, including the Johnnie Walker Classic and Singapore Open. Golfplan will re-infuse the venerated 1924 layout with a host of vintage Braid characteristics while adding tournament length and challenge. “It’s clear the club is interested in re-establishing the Bukit Course as one of Asia’s premier tournament venues,” said Golfplan partner Kevin Ramsey. “Accordingly, this a primary goal of our renovation. To that end, we’re excited to employ some of the strategies we’ve developed and have proved successful at other tournament courses in Asia.” The firm will also completely overhaul the club’s Sime Course, a 70-year-old 18 named for John Sime, who was club president in the 1920s when it was known as Royal Singapore Golf Club. While the Sime redesign will offer the architects a chance to essentially design a brand new golf course, the Bukit renovation will hew as closely as possible to the design intents of Mr. Braid, a Scot who lived from 1870 to 1950, won the British Open five times, and is responsible for the Kings and Queens courses at Gleneagles, St. Enodoc, Brora and Carnoustie, among myriad others. The renovation will be conducted in four 9-hole phases to ensure that 27 holes are open for play at all times.

WWW.HKGA.COM


City Golf

WHERE TO PLAY

WACK WACK GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB (East Course) HHHH The most convenient of all Manila’s premier courses to get to, tradition-rich Wack Wack— the name derives from the squawk of black crows known locally as Uwak Uwak—is one of the oldest clubs in Manila, founded in 1930 by prominent American resident William J. Shaw. The famed East Course here, which has hosted the Philippine Open more than any other in the country, is a magnificent parklandstyle layout that, were in not for the skyscrapers of Mandaluyong City that loom into view on several holes, wouldn’t look out of place in the English Home Counties. The par-3 8th, with its inverted saucer green and formidable bunkering will delight and frustrate in equal measure, while the 18th, a meaty par-4 laced with water and excellent fairway bunkering, is a candidate for the finest home hole in Asian golf. The other course at Wack Wack is the decadeold West Course, an all-weather IMG design that although not as fun to play as the East, is a little kinder on the wayward and copes with the frequent summer downpours better.

Destination MANILA

Great golf in the Pearl of the Orient

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ysteriously, Manila isn’t a popular choice for Hong Kongers when it comes to gol f i ng getaways. Rather, it is places like Bangkok, Hainan Island and Kunming that tend to top peoples’ wish lists. But the fact remains that the courses in and around this most colourful of cities, just a two-hour flight away, are astonishingly good and remarkably diverse. Indeed, you’d be hardpressed to find better quality golf in any of Asia’s other major financial hubs. That so few people travel there specifically for golf is probably more a reflection of the Philippines’ lack of tourism marketing clout than anything else.

ORIENTATION

The vast majority of visitors—for business or leisure—stay at one of the many international hotels in Makati, the financial and commercial hub of the city, a thirty minute taxi ride from Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Although Manila’s notorious traffic congestion has improved in recent times, it is absolutely crucial to avoid travelling to and from courses during the morning and early evening rush hours. Taxi drivers are generally open to negotiation when it comes to fares for longer journeys, although for peace of mind it’s worth hiring a car and driver from your hotel. 14

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Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City, Manila Architect: Jim Black. Yardage: 7,053. Par: 72. Greens Fee: US$100-US$140 Contact: +63-2/723-0665; wackwack.com Reciprocal clubs include Discovery Bay and Chung Shan Hot Spring Getting There: 20mins from Makati. SHERWOOD HILLS GOLF CLUB HHHHH The Golden Bear has designed dozens of courses in Asia, but it’s his gem at Sherwood Hills that he talks about with most fondness. This rugged, almost linkslike layout thunders across rolling terrain and is characterized by generous landing areas flanked by unforgiving cogon grass and golf ball-hungry ravines. Although the course measures in at a hefty 6,800+ yards from t he members’ blue tees, it plays a lot shorter thanks to firm, springy turf. The small, often angled greens complexes provide arguably the course’s biggest defence, meaning accurate iron players and those who posses a deft short game should come up trumps. Because the club seems resolutely adverse to selfpromotion (they don’t even have a website!), few outside the Philippines has even heard of it, although this is starting to change after Golf Digest WWW.HKGA.COM

ranked it as the eighth best course in Asia (behind mainly Japanese and Korean designs). The open-air dining terrace at the Missionstyle clubhouse is the perfect place to kick back with a plate of gambas and a few San Miguels after your round. Sherwood is situated only ten minutes from Eagle Ridge Golf & Country Club (+63-2/742-4265; eagle-ridge.com.ph), the archipelago’s largest golf facility, with four courses designed by Faldo, Norman, Andy Dye and Isao Aoki. Trece Martires, Cavite, Manila. Architect: Jack Nicklaus. Yardage: 7,265. Par: 72. Greens Fee: US$85-US$134. Contact: +63-46/419-2841. Getting There: 1hr from Makati.

Best of the Rest

For something completely different, try Club Intramuros (Bonifacio Drive cor. Aduana St. Port Area; +63-2/527-6613; 20mins from Makati, close to Manila Hotel), a petite but challenging par-66 public layout that snakes its way around the ancient walls of this once mighty fortified city. The course features an island green at the short par-3 10th and is floodlit to allow for night golf. Two very fine palm-fringed Nicklaus courses can be found at Manila Southwoods Golf & Country Club (Carmona, Cavite; +63-46/430-0260; manilasouthwoods.com; 40mins from Makati), which allows visitors from Tuesday to Friday after 10am, while nearby Canlubang Golf & Country Club (Canlugbang, Laguna; +63-49/549-7201), is home to two rollicking Trent Jones, Jr.-designed courses hewn out of a coconut plantation.

Philippine frolic (clockwise from top left): Wonderful Wack Wack; the drink of choice for golfers everywhere; the eighteenth green at Manila Southwoods; majestic Sherwood Hills, one of Asia’s finest.

HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

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Macgregor Junior Close Championship

Crowned Stone and Chan

Junior Champs

Heavy rain fails to dampen duo’s determined play Photography by Patrick Leung

C

harles Stone kept his composure and Tiffany Chan outclassed the field, as the teenage duo recorded highly impressive victories at the MacGregor Junior Close Championship at The Hong Kong Golf Club late March. Stone, 15, carded successive 73s over the New Course to set up a six stroke victory over pre-event favourite Steven Lam in the overall Boys’ division, while Chan, 14, continued her recent fine form with a runaway victory in the Girls’ category. “It was a pretty nerve-wracking experience,” admitted 5-handicapper Stone, a member at Fanling. “Steven sets the benchmark whenever he tees it up; he’s a great player, the best of the juniors, so to finish ahead of him and to win the tournament was a great achievement. I’m delighted.” 16

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WWW.HKGA.COM

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“Things were pretty intense leading up to that moment. To hole the putt… that was huge.” – Charles Stone HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

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Above: Tiffany Chan in full swing. Below: Steven Lam celebrates his birdie at the second.

After carding a 3-over-par effort in the rainsoaked first round—a brilliant performance given the atrocious conditions—Stone held a slender one shot lead over Marcus Lam, his nearest challenger, heading into the all important final day. “The weather didn’t really affect me; I just got on with it,” said the Chinese International School student. “I struck the ball well in practice and was able to carry that through to the event. I felt comfortable.” Comfortable or not, Stone had to weather a different kind of storm in the final round, as while Marcus struggled early on, his namesake Steven, five shots back at the beginning of the day, started to make significant inroads into Stone’s lead. After a solid front nine, Stone saw his advantage almost evaporate after Lam followed a stunning eagle at the par-5 10th with a birdie at the famously tricky 15th, a hole Stone bogeyed. “Steven had the momentum, that’s for sure,” acknowledged Stone, whose lead was cut to just three shots after Lam’s fight back . The very next hole proved to be pivotal, however, as his gutsy par save [see sidebar] triggered a Lam three-putt, and with his confidence restored, Stone was able to cruise to a much deserved first title.

Over a lengthy layout—soft conditions meant the 6,200 yard New Course played as long as a typical LPGA venue—Tiffany Chan underlined her massive potential with a ten stroke victory over her best friend and defending champion Stephanie Ho. With Demi Mak, the Ladies’ Close Amateur victor, missing the event through illness, the in-form Chan excelled, firing a closing three-over-par 74 for her maiden MacGregor victory. Fine golf aside, Chan, currently the topranked under-15 player in the region after triumphing at the Greater China Challenge in Shenzhen at the beginning of the year, showed tremendous presence of mind after a possibly disastrous rules infringement in the first round. After driving into casual water, the Diocesan Girls’ student took relief; but instead of dropping the ball, as stipulated by the Rules of Golf, she placed it. “Before signing my card, I thought back to that situation and asked for confirmation on the rule, as I wanted to make sure I had done the right thing,” she said. Unfortunately for Chan, she hadn’t, but although her “careless mistake” resulted in a two-stroke penalty— turning a 78 into an 80—the fact that she sought clarification before signing her card meant she was able to avoid possible disqualification and go on to win the tournament. “Tiffany handled the situation very well,” said Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Golf Association Iain Valentine. “Despite making the original mistake, seeking the guidance of the tournament officials was exactly the right thing to do. Her actions have set a very good example to her fellow junior golfers and she is a very worthy champion.”

The winners with MacGregor’s Johnny Wong Marcus Lam

Despite his eventual margin of victory, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Charles Stone. His lead cut to three after a resurgent Steven Lam clawed his way back into contention, the decisive point of the championship came at the par-4 16th. With Lam sitting pretty on the putting surface within birdie range, Stone fanned his approach wide of the green and into a difficult lie in the rough. A flop shot to twenty feet meant he was still away, but showing the courage that belied his nerves, Stone rammed home the putt for an amazing par save. Stunned, Lam proceeded to three putt from a similar distance after running his first effort four feet past the hole. “It got away from me…it was much quicker than I expected,” admitted Lam. For Stone, the silverware was now all but in his grasp. “I breathed a big sigh of relief on the next tee,” he grinned. “Things were pretty intense leading up to that moment. To hole the putt…that was huge.”

HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

RESULTS–TOP 10 OVERALL BOYS 1 Charles Stone 73-73 146 2 Steven Lam 78-74 152 3 Oliver Roberts 78-75 153 3 Marcus Lam 74-79 153 5 Anthony Tam 82-76 158 5 Terence Ng 80-78 158 7 Tom Scott 81-80 161 8 Shinichi Mizuno 85-77 162 8 Lionel Chan 80-82 162 10 Jeremy Wong 82-82 164

Lyra Yoe Kitty Tam

Oliver Roberts WWW.HKGA.COM

Sihao Yan

Stephanie Ho

MAJOR MOMENT

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Sibo Yan

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RESULTS–TOP 10 OVERALL GIRLS 1 Tiffany Chan 80-74 154 2 Stephanie Ho 80-84 164 3 Lyra Yoe 84-81 165 4 Nicola Inge 82-84 166 5 Ginger Mak 91-78 169 6 Michelle Ho 85-87 172 7 Kelly Kung 85-89 174 8 Cheria Heng 90-87 177 9 Tammy Thielke 90-88 178 10 Jolia Lo 94-91 185 HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

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Junior News

TrueVisions International Junior Golf Championship 2008 19-21 March, Pattana Golf Resort, Chonburi, Thailand

Brothers Sibo and Sihao Yan f lew the flag for Hong Kong at the seventh playing of the TrueVisions International Junior Golf Championship by recording top-10 finishes. Sihao, playing in the Boy’s 9-10 Division, carded rounds of 80, 80 and 79 to place fourth, while elder brother Sibo finished seventh in the 11-12 Division after rounds of 78, 78 and 72. In the Girls’ 11-12 Division, Kitty Tam missed the cut after opening with rounds of 81 and 84, but ended up winning the consolation bracket with a fine 75 on the final day. Liu Lok-tin, competing in the Boys’ 13-14 category, finished sixteenth, carding three out of his four rounds in the 70s, while Junior Close champion Charles Stone missed the cut in the Boys’ 15-17 Division, but bounced back with rounds of 79 and 76 to finish fourth in the consolation bracket. “I was very pleased with both Sibo’s and Kitty’s final rounds, and Sihao’s fourth place finish,” said National Junior Coach Brad Schadewitz. “The whole group worked really hard, but I think all the players found the greens very difficult and struggled with their short games.”

29th Asia-Pacific Junior Golf Championship 6-9 May, Sherwood Hills Golf Club, Cavite, Philippines

Team Results – Boys’ 1. Thailand 2. Chinese Taipei 3. India 4. Malaysia 5. Korea 6. Philippines 7. Hong Kong 8. Guam Team Results – Girls’ 1. Thailand 2. Korea 3. Chinese Taipei 4. Philippines 5. Singapore Malaysia 7. India 8. Hong Kong 20

Total 870 (+6) 871 (+7) 874 (+10) 887 (+23) 895 (+31) 912 (+48) 942 (+78) 968 (+104) 424 (-8) 435 (+3) 441 (+9) 448 (+16) 474 (+42) 474 (+42) 477 (+45) 488 (+56)

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It was a generally disappointing performance by Hong Hong’s representatives at the region’s premier junior team championship. Unlike in recent years where players from the SAR had enjoyed high finishes in the individual categories, nobody was able to break through into the top-5 this time around. Both the Boys’ and Girls’ team results were a reflection of that, with the former finishing seventh of the eight participating teams, while the latter propped up the rankings against extremely strong opposition. Thailand had an exceptional tournament, winning both the team events and the overall individual honours. Steven Lam, Charles Stone and Oliver Roberts, competing in the Boys’ A Division, placed sixteenth, n i ne te ent h a nd t went y- si x t h respectively, while Marcus Lam and Terence Ng placed thirteenth and fourteenth in the Boys’ B Division. The Yan brothers recorded similar results, each finishing sixth in the Boys’ C and D divisions. In the Girls’ categories, Nichola Inge placed sixteenth in the A Division, Cheria Heng finished twelfth in the B Division and Kitty Tam grabbed sixth spot in the C Division.

On The Tee Shinichi Mizuno

He’s only been playing the game for 2 years, but already Japanese-born Shinichi has a handicap of 4. A fixture in the HKGA Junior Squad since the start of the year, the 14-yearold West Island School student finished eighth at the recent MacGregor Junior Close and is showing the kind of raw talent that makes him one to watch out for in future events. HKG: How did you get into golf? SM: I was very lucky. My dad joined Discovery Bay Golf Club in 2006 and he introduced me to the game. Now I play twice a week on the course and try to practice as much as possible.

Dial in your WEDGES

Driving the ball 300-yards is all well and good, but in order to shoot really low scores you have to manage your distance control with the shorter irons

HKG: How long have you been in Hong Kong? SM: I was born in Nagoya but my family moved to Hong Kong when I was 6. Hong Kong is home for me.

HKG: What’s your best score? SM: 73. That was at Discovery Bay on the Diamond/Ruby Course. HKG: Do you have a favourite player? SM: I like Hideto Tanihara and Justin Rose. Tanihara seems like an all round good guy and Rose has a beautiful swing.

HKG: If you could change one of the Rules of Golf, which one would it be, and why? SM: Can I change two? [laughs]. I’d like to be able ground my club in bunkers, because I’m such a bad player from sand. Also, Out of Bounds. I’d be happy if OB could be treated the same as a water hazard. What’s in the Bag? Driver: TaylorMade 425 TP with Fujikura 65 stiff 3-wood: Callaway X with Fujikura 65 stiff Hybrid: Callaway Big Bertha Heavenwood H3 Irons: Royal Collection CB with S200 shaft Wedges: Tourstage 52˚ and 58˚ Putter: Yes! Golf Valerie Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

WWW.HKGA.COM

By Brad Schadewitz National Junior Coach

his biggest problems was distance control—and not being able to control the distance of your wedges is obviously detrimental to low scoring. A 300-yard drive is not much good if you miss the green from only one hundred yards away. Below are some of the simple fundamentals that we are work ing on to help Lok Tin dial in those wedge shots and therefore dramatically improve his scoring.

HKG: What are the strengths and weaknesses of your game? SM: Distance is probably my strength— I drive the ball around 265 yards. My short game is my weakness…and my accuracy [laughs]. I am working hard to improve those two things.

HKG: What’s your favourite course? SM: I really like Clearwater Bay. It’s can be really tough when it gets windy and you have to drive the ball well. Outside of Hong Kong, I like the Phoenix Country Club in Miyazaki, Japan. Tiger Woods has played there a few times [in the Dunlop Phoenix tournament].

Junior Training

Photo 1: Rehearse Your Backswing

L

1

iu Lok Tin has been making steady progress with his golf over the past few months, but one of the most challenging parts of the game for him, as with many growing teenagers, has been in the short game department, particularly with his wedges. While Lok Tin’s rapid physical growth—at 6 foot 4 inches he’s one of the most strapping 14-year-old’s around— has undoubtedly helped him become an impressively powerful player, the f inesse and feel shots that are so important for low scoring have presented a few problems from time to time. Lok Tin and I have worked very hard making sure his fundamentals are sound, especially his posture, which is a common issue for taller players. It quickly became obvious that one of WWW.HKGA.COM

Know the distance you want to hit the shot and then decide how much swing you need to hit that distance. I like to imagine my arms are the hands of a clock and then swing to that time. In this picture Lok Tin is swinging to around 9.30. I like to see him rehearse this swing twice before he hits the shot. A long, lazy swing means you’ll decelerate through impact. The key here is to keep the backswing short and crisp. 2

Photo 2: Follow Through

Your follow through distance should be slightly longer than your backswing. This will encourage acceleration through the ball. Remember, deceleration is your biggest enemy when it comes to hitting these shots.

Pro’s Final Thought

In the address position do not put your ball back in your stance, which is something I see a lot of young amateur players do. Instead, put the ball in the middle of your stance and lean your body weight slightly to the direction of the target. This will promote a steeper angle of attack and will result in a cleaner, more consistent strike. If these shots are proving difficult for you, I recommend that this be the first thing you work on in your warm up routine before play or practice. HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

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Macgregor Seniors’ Close Championship

A

stunning display on the greens at Clearwater Bay Golf Club earned Joe Pethes his second successive MacGregor Hong Kong Seniors’ Close Amateur Championship early May, a resounding nine stroke victory over the rest of the field. Terry Collins finished in second place, two shots ahead of 2006 champion Matajiro Nagatomi in third. “My short game was good all week,” said Pethes, 62, the current non-playing captain of the Hong Kong international men’s team. “The course was set up beautifully; the greens were in excellent condition and I managed to hole a lot of putts. That’s really what it came down to.” Opening with a solid 74, which gave him a three shot advantage over Collins and Bob McKirdy, Pethes increased his lead to an unassailable eleven strokes after firing a sensational 2-under-par 68 on the second day, his lowest ever competitive round. “Nearly everything went in,” grinned Pethes, who only needed his putter 28 times during the course of the round. The Hong Kong Golf Club member was a blistering 4-under par through fifteen holes before back-to-back bogeys at the 16th and 17th took the shine off an otherwise flawless display. The final round proved to be a cakewalk for Pethes. Never in danger of relinquishing his lead, he cruised to the easiest of 74s and wrapped up the championship in style. Other notable performances included Motonobu Yanai’s final round of 71— the low score of the day—which rocketed him up the leaderboard and into overall fourth place and victory in the 55-59 age division. McKirdy and Martin Clinch took the honours in the 60-64 and 65-69 age division respectively, while Hugh Staunton’s three round total of 250 won him the 70 and over category.

Terry Collins splashes out Bob McKirdy placed fifth

Pethes Putts His Way to Second Seniors’ Title

Richly deserved: a second title for Pethes

Photography by Patrick Leung

Hot putter and stellar short game key to Joe’s victory

RESULTS – TOP 10 OVERALL 1 Joe Pethes (74-68-74) 2 Terry Collins (77-76-72) 3 Matajiro Nagatomi (78-75-74) 4 Motonobu Yanai (79-84-71) 5 Bob McKirdy (77-79-80) 6 Don Moore (82-77-79) 7 Kwong Kam-shui (82-82-78) 8 Ted Ling (79-83-81) 9 Fursy Chung (82-79-83) 10= Dai Xiao-ming (84-81-81) Wong Yick-chiu (84-80-82) Rob Chipman (79-81-86)

216 225 227 234 236 238 242 243 244 246 246 246

Another solid event for Don Moore

Former champion Matajiro Nagatomi tees off on the third

60-64 age division champion Martin Clinch 22

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Motonobu Yanai at the fifth WWW.HKGA.COM

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Ho Chi Minh Why Vietnam is well on the way to becoming the next big thing in Asian golf

Trail

BY THOMAS EDWARDS

F

or me, the excitement of an imminent overseas golf trip begins the moment I receive my confirmed itinerary—and in the case of a recent visit to Vietnam, the schedule could not have been more beguiling. Dong Nai, Phan Thiet, Dalat, Tam Dao, Chi Linh— to those whose preconceptions of this Southeast Asian nation are based solely from watching old Hollywood war movies this list might read like a rundown of former battlegrounds sites: places hidden deep within malarial jungle and require umpteen vaccinations and a sturdy 4x4 before anyone sane of mind would contemplate traveling to. But no, these names represent the finest courses that this now thriving country has to offer, and what’s more, they’re all located within easy reach of Vietnam’s most worthy cultural attractions, 24

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making this so much more than just a golf tour. The name of this nationwide golfing traipse is, I kid you not, the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail. This branding is sure to raise a few eyebrows, especially stateside. But I like to think it’s more a reflection of how far this country has come. While the original Ho Chi Minh Trail was the moniker given by the American military to describe the elaborate web of mountain and grassland paths that were used by the North Vietnamese to transport troops, tanks, guns and WWW.HKGA.COM

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de rigueur. On my first night in the country I ate indecently well at a hip fusion restaurant and then went for drinks at the rooftop bar of the iconic Caravelle Hotel, a five-star establishment in Lam Son Square overlooking Saigon’s magnificent colonial-era Opera House. A ll around me trendy young men were laughing and joking over glasses of Johnnie Walker; their elegant girlfriends sipping mojitos, being careful not to spill any on their newly-acquired Louis Vuit ton purses. While the nouveau riche might only represent a fraction of the Vietnamese population, this scene would have been unthinkable less than a generation ago. It was hard not to be impressed. G o l f ’s r o l e i n t h i s r e c e n t revitalization of the Vietnamese economy is hard to fathom. Long considered a western evil, the radical economic policy shifts of the ruling Community party during the mid 1990s certainly helped the game’s rise, but whether or not this was led by pressure from the many golf-loving Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese who own businesses in the country is uncertain. I did hear a story before coming to Vietnam that if true—and I have really no way of checking whether it is—will undoubtedly go down in Asian golf folklore. Every year, the great and the good of Southeast Asian politics assemble for the ASEA N (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit, a multi-nation conference

Saigon swings (clockwise from top): Ho Chi Minh City’s Municipal Theatre; the 18th century Notre Dame Cathedral, a throwback to the days of Indochine; street food is always an option; Ocean Dunes Golf Resort, Vietnam’s best course.

HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

Charles McLaughlin (3)

Global Golf

Golfing the

supplies from Hanoi to the south during the tumultuous years leading up to the Fall of Saigon in 1975, its golfing namesake takes visitors on a journey through modern Vietnam, an expedition that encompasses swish beachside resorts, colonial mountain retreats, vibrant cities and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, first-rate courses. In a country where 65% of the population is under 25, the ‘American War’ is all but forgotten. The Vietnamese have moved on, I was told on numerous occasions, and they’re not the type to look back. My trip began, appropriately enough, in Ho Chi Minh City, a sprawling metropolis that the majority of Vietnamese still call Saigon. On the flight over, a middle-aged French gentleman, a long-term resident of the city, had given me an inkling of what to expect. “The food is fabulous and the women are painfully beautiful—this is all you need to know,” he said matter-of-factly. I took note. In my experience, Frenchmen never joke about such subjects. I explained the purpose of my trip and he laughed. “I don’t know anything about golf, but I’m sure it’s getting more popular. The businessmen have to go somewhere to clinch their deals.” That might sound like a bit of a cliché, but his point was valid. China aside, Vietnam has the fastest growing economy in Asia, a fact made evident by the number of upscale malls and luxury apartment towers that have sprung up all over Saigon in recent years. Indeed, construction is still frantic; cranes are everywhere. The streets reverberate with the buzz of four million mopeds, but high-powered SUV’s and gleaming executive sedans—the vehicles of choice for your upwardly mobile Vietnamese—are becoming

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Course with character (above and below): the signature par-3 ninth at Ocean Dunes plays through a chute of pine trees; the eighth, a water-laced par-5.

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where they discuss hugely impor ta nt cu lt ura l a nd economic matters pertaining to the region. As you can probably imagine, it’s a fairly dull affair, but one which is enlivened by a round of golf on the penultimate day. Unfortunately, when they first joined ASEAN in 1995, the Vietnamese contingent, not being golfers, declined the invitation and headed back to their hotel rooms. Five hours later, the Malaysian foreign minister, perplexed by their non-appearance, was said to have gone up to his Vietnamese counterpart to offer some much-needed advice. “There are two things you need to learn about international politics,” he is rumored to have told him. “Firstly, you must learn how to speak English fluently. But more importantly, you must to learn how to play golf. No-one will take you seriously otherwise.” On my second day I visited Dong Nai Golf Resort, a delightful 27-holer set on the banks of Song May Lake. Because of its location, less than an hour north of Saigon, I had expected the course to be busy, but apart from a

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sprinkling of Korean factory owners there were no other golfers in sight. I asked my pint-sized caddie, Vu Minh Vy, where everybody was. “Weekend, people…weekday, no people,” she grinned from beneath her conical hat, a nifty form of traditional Vietnamese headgear that offers protection from the unrelenting sun. “No people, no problem.” She was right about that and we ambled eighteen holes before retiring for a delicious bowl of pho, Vietnam’s ubiquitous rice-noodle soup. Maybe I was just lucky, but this was to be a recurring theme at all the courses I visited—they all seemed to be refreshingly devoid of golfers. But maybe I shouldn’t have been that surprised. There might only be fourteen courses in the entire country, but estimates put the number of Vietnamese who regularly take to the fairways at a measly 4,000. Golf might not yet be booming at the same rate that has made China and Thailand into major golfing nations, but so what? This is undoubtedly great news for tourists who come with clubs in tow, a fact acknowledged by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, who named Vietnam as the Best Undiscovered Golf Destination last December. T h e t it l e o f V ie t n a m ’s b e s t c o u r s e undoubtedly goes to Ocean Dunes, a rollicking,

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Up in Dalat: (left and below): vegetable vendors in the town’s central market; the Sofitel Dalat Palace, one of the world’s most unique stays.

Nick Faldo-designed layout situated on the east coast in the resort town of Phan Thiet, a hair-raising four hour drive along the coastal highway from Saigon. The golf course aside, Phan Thiet’s associations with golf will last forever: Earl Woods, Tiger’s father, was stationed at a nearby airfield during one of his two tours of duty. After checking into my smartly-appointed villa, part of the adjacent Novotel Ocean Dunes Resort, I hit the links with the club’s director of golf Jeff Puchalski. A former pro at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, Puchalski and his wife have lived in Vietnam for over thirteen years. “We didn’t know what to expect when we arrived,” admits Puchalski, as we play the 5th, a decidedly Floridian-like par-5 with water all down the right side. “The country has changed drastically in recent years, which has helped the golf here. In the mid-1990s there were probably only seventy-five golfers in the whole place. Golf is growing and it will continue to do so…there’s no doubt about it.” After we played the windswept 9th, a stunning par-3 that plays through a chute of pine trees to a raised green overlooking the beach, I asked Puchalski about the rigors of building a golf course in a former war-torn land. “They [Faldo’s design team] took away a bunch of unexploded ordinance, including some fairly big bombs, when they built this place,” he said. “I’m pretty sure they got it all.” That evening, I went out for a dinner at a rustic seafood restaurant overlooking the South China Sea with Puchalski and his director of operations, Kenny Saunders. Over beautifully grilled crab, a platter of succulent steamed prawns and many bottles of Tiger Beer, WWW.HKGA.COM

Saunders, a transplanted native of Tennessee, who had only been in Vietnam a few months, waxed lyrical about his new home. “It’s not Memphis, that’s for sure,” he joked, “but the people couldn’t be friendlier. People back home really have no idea what Vietnam is like, which is understandable of course, but also a shame.” The next day I headed inland to Dalat, another four hour slog by car, but one that affords stunning views of the surrounding countryside. If proof was ever needed that Vietnam is not all steamy jungle, this is it. We weaved through the foothills of rugged mountains before ascending sharply until we reached our destination. Dalat is like nowhere else in Vietnam—or Asia for that matter. A hill station conceived during the Indochine HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

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have stayed longer in Dalat, but it was time to move on and it was with a heavy heart that I boarded my flight to Hanoi, the nation’s capital A couple of evenings later, after taking in a couple of very worthy courses around Hanoi, I found myself standing on the deck of the Emeraude, a replica of a colonial-era paddle wheeler, staring at the magnificent limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. Whether it was the eerie setting, the salty air or the three gin and tonics I had enjoyed over dinner, I began to reflect on my trip and the state of Vietnamese golf generally. Barring economic meltdown (a highly unlikely event), golf in Vietnam won’t remain a secret for much longer. Already, over eighty new courses are planned, with several— including a Colin Montgomerie design laid out among the dunes of famed China Beach— set to open in the next twelve months. Within a few years, Vietnam could well replace Thailand as Southeast Asia’s most popular golf destination. This is all well and good for the country as a whole, but I selfishly hope the boom holds off a while. I want to come back before the hordes start arriving and have the courses all to myself again.

HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

WWW.HKGA.COM

TRIP PLANNER WHERE TO PLAY Dong Nai Golf Resort HHH A pleasant lakeside test featuring a few strongly undulating holes. The A/B Course is the best of the three combinations. 1 hour from Saigon. dongnaigolf.com.vn Ocean Dunes Golf Club HHHHH Part resort, part links, part English heathland, Vietnam’s be st c our se features springy seaside turf and slick bermudagrass greens. Strong ocean winds make it play significantly harder than it looks. Attached to the Novotel Ocean Dunes Resort. 4 hours from Saigon. vietnamgolfresorts.com Dalat Palace Golf Club HHHH A refreshingly old-style course, this charming track features small, wellguarded greens and pine flanked fairways right in the heart of the former hill station. One of the few courses in Southeast Asia that has bentgrass greens. vietnamgolfresorts.com King’s Island Golf Club HHH Accessible only by boat, this 36-hole facility, North Vietnam’s first, takes advantage of naturally rolling terrain and provides a good blend of holes in an undoubtedly scenic environment. kingsislandgolf.com

era of French occupation, the town sits over five thousand feet above sea level, its temperate climate providing much respite from the searing heat of the low country. Although the French left over fifty years ago, the architecture remains defiantly European. Swiss-style villas cover much of the higher ground, while the imposingly grand Sofitel Dalat Palace Hotel sits regally by the shores of Xuan Hong Lake, the town’s focal point. Dalat Palace Golf Club, a charming, almost garden-like layout situated right in the centre of town overlooking the lake, is Vietnam’s oldest course and by far the most intriguing. Established in the early 1920s at the behest of Bo Dai, Vietnam’s last emperor, nobody is quite sure who actually designed Dalat—recently unearthed documentation suggests that noted British architect Harry Colt and his protégé Charles Alison may well have had a hand in the original routing—but whoever it was clearly knew what they was doing. Closed for nearly twenty years following the reunification of the country, Dalat reopened in 1994 following significant investment by Larry Hillblom, cofounder of DHL, who tragically died in a plane crash just a few months later. I would like to 30

French frolic (clockwise from top left): charming Dalat Palace Golf Club, cruising Ha Long Bay on the Emeraude; Dalat’s bijou clubhouse.

Tam Dao Golf Club HHHH A thoroughly modern IMG-designed layout featuring flashy bunkering, elevated greens and generous fairways. Rooms are available within its enormous clubhouse. 1 hour Hanoi. tamdaogolf.com Chi Linh Star Golf Club HHHH Arguably the toughest course in the country, this dramatic 36-holer features exceptionally strong bunkering and tight landing areas. Demanding for higher handicappers, but its beautiful mountainous surrounds make it worth a visit. 90 minutes from Hanoi. chilinhstargolf.com

HOW TO BOOK To book a tailor-made tour, including golf and lodgings visit hochiminhgolftrail.com. Packages from Hong Kong, including flights, accommodation and golf booking, are available through Golf 007. golf007.com/travel/en

WWW.HKGA.COM

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31


Spring Ladies’ Tournament

Rani Romps to Clearwater Bay Win In-form Pomareda leaves field in her wake

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The winners with Eric Lee of Synergy Holdings International Ltd

laying what she described as relaxed golf, Rani Pomareda coasted to an emphatic win at the Spring Ladies’ Tournament at Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club early April. Pomareda racked up an impressive 34 Gross Stableford points over the clifftop links to finish seven points ahead of Tammy Chan in second place. Franziska Hu finished third after losing out to Chan on countback. “I just went out to try and play my normal game,” said the statuesque Balinese. “I made a couple of mistakes with my course management, but overall I was very happy with the way I played.” Pomareda, who has represented Hong SCORES – GROSS DIVISION Kong at international level, said her 1 Rani Pomareda 34 attempts at qualifying for the Women’s 2 Tammy Chan 27 British Open last year—an event which saw 2 Franziska Hu 27 world number one Lorena Ochoa claim her 4 Huang Yue-ming 23 first major championship—had given her a 4 Tammy Thielke 23 new-found confidence in her game. “Although I performed pretty badly SCORES – NETT DIVISION [during pre-qualifying], playing with so 1 Ng Yim-kuen 42 many good players helped me,” she said. “It 2 Wendy Chan 40 made me realize that if I can improve a bit 2 Manjit Yau 40 more, I can qualify in the future. It was a 2 Tammy Chan 40 really great experience.” 5 Jeannette Shieh 39 32

Tammy Chan celebrates a holed bunker shot at the 18th

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Pomareda will now set her sights on this month’s Bolle Midsummer Classic and the Malaysian Ladies’ A mateur Championship in June. In the Nett division, Ng Yimkuen made a mockery of her 27-handicap as she returned a stellar 42 points, while Wendy Chan overcame Manjit Yau on countback to claim second place after the duo both finished on 40 points.

Pomareda in cruise control WWW.HKGA.COM

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33


Up Close

A Frenchman in HK: JEAN VAN DE VELDE

Van de Velde: the commitment is back.

Forever to be remembered as the man who nearly won the 1999 Open Championship, the charismatic 42-year-old, a two-time winner on Tour, is now based in the city with his Hong Kong-born fiancée and two young sons. We caught up with the swashbuckling Frenchman and discussed the state of his game, the Ryder Cup and, of course, what happened at Carnoustie. Allez Jean.

becoming a resident here, to getting my ID card. Hong Kong is an exiting city—I love the buzz of the place. When I arrived in 2005, it was much more different than anything I had ever experienced. You go out to Central at midday and it’s so noisy, so crowded. They say that New York is the city that never sleeps, but what about here? The service is great—very courteous and very friendly. It makes you feel good. For a European Tour player at the beginning of the year, you couldn’t dream of a better place to be based. I live on Hong Kong Island and I just go down to the Airport Express. It’s unbelievable. In 30 minutes you’re passing immigration. Compared to London or Paris…well, it’s just so convenient. HKG: When you’re here you practice at The Hong Kong Golf Club. What do you make of the place? JVDV: I’m lucky to know Iain Roberts. He has made me feel

very welcome, made me feel like I belong here. I’m not a member, but his door is always open. It’s a wonderful place, a wonderful community and it has a wonderful atmosphere. It’s a great old club. It’s also a tough track. There are only two par-fives [on the Composite Course]. You have to focus on the par-threes and parfours, which is a lot different than other courses. You have to be on your game to score well there. HKG: Judging by your record, you seem to perform better on tougher courses. Is there any reason for that? JVDV: To play well on a difficult golf course…you need to be in

a different frame of mind. I don’t like to see 25-under-par winning tournaments. I once shot 21-under in Switzerland to finish third, so it’s not as if I can’t do it. I just don’t like it. I like a struggle. I like a different mental challenge. Faldo excelled at this. Sometimes you have to accept that par is a great score, which is what I like. HKG: You’ve played in the Masters and played well. How tough is Augusta? JVDV: I played it in 2000 and finished nineteenth. It’s a hell of

a course. They’ve made a few changes, but I played off pretty much 34

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the same tees as they did this year. It’s the kind of place that you have to know where to miss your shot. I like this kind of golf. I don’t like to see players standing on the tee and ripping it miles and not worrying about where the ball ends up. I don’t see the interest. HKG: Do you have favourite course? JVDV: There are a few courses I especially like playing.

Wentworth is one, Le Golf National in Paris is another. And of course I love links golf. I just like it when it’s tough. HKG: You played in the States for two years. Everyone says how close-knit and sociable the European Tour is—but how did you find playing on the other side of the Atlantic? JVDV: If you’re based in Europe, you can be back home

with your family every Sunday night. You can have dinner with them, you can put your children to bed. When I went to play in America it was a dream fulfilled. It wasn’t easy being away from my two girls (Alexandra and Anne Sophie, Van de Velde’s daughters from his first marriage), but I made a lot of friends. It’s different over there—the players don’t seem to be mixing so much as in Europe but that’s because many of them travel with their families. I made a lot of friends: David Frost, Billy Andrade, Tommy Armour III, Fuzzy Zoeller—those kind of guys. They were a lot of fun and the galleries liked me over there. HKG: How are you playing right now? JVDV: Not good. I haven’t played well for the last two months.

I’m not really happy with my game. But then again, I’ve had a lot on my mind. Louis, my second son, was born only two weeks ago. When golf isn’t your priority you have to accept whatever direction your game might be going. Golf will never give you anything unless you make the effort. I don’t feel bad about it—I’m just too preoccupied by other things. I haven’t been lazy, but now the commitment is back. I’m sure of that. HKG: Committed enough to win again? JVDV: I won in my 20s and I won in my 30s. Now I want to

win in my 40s. I want to win in three different decades. That’s the goal. You have to have goals. WWW.HKGA.COM

Getty Images

HKG: You’ve been living here on and off for a while now. Have your impressions of Hong Kong changed during that time? JVDV: I love Hong Kong. I’m really looking forward to

WWW.HKGA.COM

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HKG: Your last win—the Madeira Island Open in 2006—what did that mean to you? JVDV: I had come close so many times prior

to that. Not including the Open, which was just freaky, I missed out at the Open de France and lost a playoff in America. Winning is always nice. Because of an injury, I couldn’t walk in 2002 and 2003, and in 2004 I only played five times. You can’t be competitive like that. When I lost out at the French Open I was just trying to walk and play golf. It was disappointing, but it was also a good feeling to know that I could play again. HKG: You’ve played in the Ryder Cup. Will Faldo make a good captain? JVDV: How can Faldo not be a good captain?

Look at his experience. I mean—6 majors! Excuse me—6 majors! That’s more than Ernie Els, that’s more "At the end of the day, if golf is than anyone apart from Tiger. what defines you as a person Experience is important in Ryder He might be introverted, then you're a loser, because Cups. but he’ll find his way as long as you're always going to lose he can communicate with the more times that you win." players, which he will. Faldo will be fantastic in America. HKG: So Europe will win? JVDV: Yes, Europe will win. I don’t care about

the score—as long as they win. That’s what counts.

HKG: You didn’t qualify for the British Open at Carnoustie last year, but a lot of people were suggesting that you should have received an invite based on your performance the last time around. What did you make of that? JVDV: I was flattered. I play golf because I

love to play golf, and obviously there were a lot of people who watched me play in 1999. But the fact of the matter is that I was injured during qualifying and couldn’t compete. I don’t believe anyone has ever received an invitation to the British Open— you have to qualify, which I didn’t do. I don’t hold it against the R&A—that’s the way it is. What can you do? I was disappointed to miss out, but nevermind. If I win at Birkdale this year, no-one will care about last year. I’m cool with it. HKG: How cool were you with what happened in 1999? JVDV: Ha! The way that ball hit the

grandstand and came down, it’s a fluke…it’s freaky. You have to remember golf is a game—it involves luck. Whatever game you play, luck is involved. In golf, 2 plus 2 doesn’t equal 4. Yes, you could argue that I played the wrong shot, but I could have hit 8-iron back to the fairway and it could have hit a sprinkler head and gone out of bounds. If it’s not 36

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Beauty Beast More

meant to be, it’s not meant to be. I was sad, yes, but is it really important? Of course not. You’re in the golf business, who won the Open in 1992? HKG: Faldo. JVDV: Who won in 1985? HKG: Err, Lyle? JVDV: OK, who won in 1964? HKG: No idea. JVDV: See, we’re both in the golf business, but

Cover Story

Than

we still have to check. We don’t even know. In a hundred years, people won’t know what happened in 1999. They’ll look at the trophy and see the winner’s name. People die every day in conflicts all over the world. That day at Carnoustie, John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash. Here I am trying to hit a golf ball into a hole. It might be important for me, but not for anyone else. Let’s be realistic. HKG: How important is golf to you now? JVDV: At the end of the day, if golf is what

Public golf. It simply doesn’t get any better…

defines you as a person then you’re a loser, because you’re always going to lose more times than you win. Golf is a part of me, but it’s not me. The way I reacted in 1999 is an aspect of me.

Story by Alex Jenkins Photography by Robin Moyer

HKG: Did you watch the British Open last year? JVDV: I watched Garcia play [holes] 2,3,4 and

5, and then I switched off. I don’t watch golf. The only exception is the Ryder Cup—I’ll sit down and watch that all day. I love the confrontation of matchplay. A golf tournament is a golf tournament. I play in them every week. HKG: You didn’t see Harrington make double bogey on the eighteenth? JVDV: No. A friend of mine called me

on the final day and asked if I wanted a bet. I picked Harrington straight away. I knew he was going to win. My friend staked his money on Garcia. Padraig is an amazing player—and so is young Romero, and so is Garcia. It was just a feeling I had. Carnoustie is a good course for him. There’s only one blind shot, and that’s the second shot on the 14th, a par-five. The course suits his game. People don’t realize how tough a finish it is…15 to 18—it is the toughest finish of any course in the world by a mile. It’s brutal. It doesn’t take much [to mess up] 18—if you hit it in the water on the right you’re left with 215-yards to the front of the green. There’s Out of Bounds to the left. It’s brutal…brutal. HKG: But isn’t that what separates the men from the boys? JVDV: I don’t consider myself a man yet.

When it’s windy and tough it can go against you. You have to find pleasure in that. If not, find another game to play. WWW.HKGA.COM

The view across Kau Sai Chau's new East Course WWW.HKGA.COM

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One shot wonder: the stunning par-3 13th

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ow! Beautiful! Awesome! You’d think a group of sports journalists would be able to come up with a few better adjectives to sum up their experience of playing the recently unveiled East Course at Kau Sai Chau, but this wasn’t to be the case. There was one guy, a high handicapper from a publication that will remain nameless, who came in to the clubhouse bemoaning his score; but then again he had elected, for reasons known only to himself, to play from the blue tees. This was a definite error of judgment. This speciallyarranged media outing did confirm one thing apart from the importance of selecting the right tee box however: that the Nelson & Haworthdesigned layout, which cost a cool HK$300

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million to come to life, is not only incredibly scenic, but it has helped raised the bar for all public golf facilities the world over. It is both beautiful and awesome. Wow! But don’t take the media’s word for it. The course has been open for almost a month now, and opinion emanating from the locker room has proved overwhelmingly positive. The consensus being that this is a hugely fun track, one that rewards those willing to take the occasional risk, but one where bad shots will almost certainly get punished. In terms of difficulty, those I’ve spoken to—low handicappers and higher markers alike—rate it somewhere between the original Gary Player-designed South and North courses. It’s hard not to agree with what’s been said, but it should also be noted that this is also a very different test of golf. WWW.HKGA.COM

For a start, there’s the elevation changes. While the North and South courses can be described as strongly undulating, the East is staggeringly so. Indeed, downright mountainous probably gives a better visual image. But when you consider the natural topography of this side of the island, the fact that they managed to squeeze in eighteen playable holes is already a commendable achievement. The fact that they managed to squeeze in eighteen highly memorable holes is a staggering feat of both design and engineering. The cart track—and this is most definitely a course that requires automotive power—comes in at a whopping 14 kilometers, which should give a clear indication of the kind of terrain we’re talking about here. No less than nine holes feature dramatic a lt it ude sh i f t s a nd t he cou rse benef it s WWW.HKGA.COM

strategically as a result. This is largely due to the width of the fairways. They might not always look it, but the landing areas, on the whole, are more than generous. Take the 4th, for instance. The back tee on this short par-4 sits high up in the clouds, a good two hundred feet above what appears to be just a sliver of fairway protruding out into the South China Sea. In actual fact, the mown grass measures nearly fifty yards wide, meaning club selection is far from restricted— you can have a crack with the driver, or you can play the percentages with a 4-iron. The thing about the East is that you always have options, which is always the sign of a well thought out golf course. This visual deception is a recurring theme on the East: holes that look mightily intimidating from the tee, but are really far more manageable. HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

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charming feature for many—and fairly lengthy carries off the tee probably won’t get on with the East. While it is certainly more friendly than the North Course, this is no place for the rank amateur. The greens, many of which feature false fronts and run-off areas, not to mention ragged, minimalist-style bunkering, will more than likely make a fool of those lacking any short game prowess, but they are all undoubtedly fair. This seems to be the whole ethos of the East: play well, don’t be suckered into shots that your wiser self tells you won’t come off; be brave on the shots that might and you’ll be rewarded, even in the notoriously fickle winds at Kau Sai Chau. But come out all drivers-a-blazing, hell-bent for leather, and you can forget it. Be smart, be sensible and, above all, savour what is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating courses to have opened in recent years.

New Course, New Grass

Course with character (clockwise from top): dramatic ocean views on the back nine; strong greenside bunkering at the par-5 16th; the tee shot at the 14th, the signature hole; the 4th plays downhill all the way.

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With the exception of the par-3s, that is. The East’s strength, according to Brett Mogg of Nelson & Haworth, lead designer on the project, is its short holes—or as the case may be, its not so short, short holes. Played from the tips—which, sensibly, is only an option currently available to single figure handicappers—these could arguably be the strongest collection of par-3s in the region. With the exception of the 147-yard 15th, the one-shotters here are both long and fraught with danger. The fun starts at the 3rd, a mid-range hole that has trouble

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written all over it. A fiendishly grassy bank left of the green and total mayhem right makes this par-3 require the most precise of longish irons. Although, quite frankly, this is nothing compared to the 5th, a stunning, yet ferocious hole from the backs, where it measures in excess of 200-yards. The smart option here is to trundle your cart 70-yards forward to the white tees where a nice simple 9-iron shot over a vegetation-filled gorge awaits. The 8th is another brute, but I’ll reserve judgment on this one until the next time I play it. (If you play it from its full 232 yards and hit the green in regulation, write in and let us know—you might be the only one so far). Any number of holes could have been designated the East’s signature hole, but this particular honour has been given to the 14th, another shortish par-4 that plays to a peninsula fairway that, once again, juts out into the ocean. It’s a very decent, not to mention dramatic, hole but it’s the views here that certainly earned it this tag. The Tanah Lot temple at the 14th at Nirwana Bali aside, there can’t be a more spectacular view in all of Asian golf. The scene, looking out towards the craggy outcrops to the south, is more reminiscent of the isles of the Andaman Sea than Hong Kong. To say it’s breathtaking is simply understating the matter. People who don’t like blind shots—a WWW.HKGA.COM

Unlike the North and the South courses, the East hasn’t been laid out in Bermuda grass, the hardy strain of warm season grass that is used on the vast majority of courses across the region. Instead, the layout is covered entirely with Paspalum, a new-fangled variety that is becoming increasingly popular with new projects the world over. Paspalum evolved naturally on the coastal dunes of the eastern seaboard of the United States. Its genetically enhanced strains are famous within the golf industry for being saline tolerant, making it ideal for seaside courses that lack a quality water supply. The East uses Seashore (Salam) Paspalum for the tees, fairways and roughs, while Supreme Paspalum, a more delicate breed, is used on the greens. Christine Chan, superintendent at Kau Sai Chau, believes the new grass will be a hit with Hong Kong golfers. “Paspalum requires different maintenance methods to Bermuda grass, but it has coped very well with the high volume of golfers we’ve had so far,” she says. “And unlike the Bermuda grass, Paspalum stays green for a longer time. It doesn’t go dormant as early as Bermuda.” Rick Hamilton, managing director of Asia Turf Solutions and the man responsible for taking care of the SkyCity Nine Eagles Course at Chek Lap Kok, which also uses Paspalum, is in full agreement. “It retains its colour and stripes up very nicely,” says Hamilton. Striping, as its name implies, is the practice used by greenkeepers to add stripes to the greens, fairways and tees, which give courses a fancy PGA Tour-type look about them. “And because Paspalum has a broader leaf, the ball sits up very high on the

WWW.HKGA.COM

fairways—you don’t get too many ‘skinny’ lies with it, which golfers like, Hamilton continued. But what of the greens? Because of Hong Kong’s notoriously extreme climate of high humidity, heavy rainfall and long periods of cloud cover, maintaining quality putting surfaces has never been easy— indeed, there’s a much-used phrase among greenkeepers the region over that goes something along the lines of: if you can grow grass in southern China, you can grow grass anywhere in the world. “The big plus with Paspalum is that is handles the lack of sunlight very well, which makes it suitable for Hong Kong,” says Hamilton. “Also, Paspalum greens don’t seem to suffer as much grain as Bermuda. They give a very true and consistent role, but it’s a little harder to get them up to the speeds of, say, the Bermuda TifEagle grass. That’s not to say they can’t run fast; it just requires more work. A course laid out entirely of Paspalum is perfectly capable of holding a major professional event.”

Other local courses that use Paspalum include: SkyCity Nine Eagles (Salam fairways; Sea Isle 2000 greens), The Hong Kong Golf Club, Old Course (Salam fairways), Shek O Golf Club (Salam fairways), Zhuhai Golden Gulf Golf Club (Salam fairways).

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LAND ROVER Spring Men’s Open

Stylish Liu Drives Away With Title

Long-hitting teen impresses many in securing maiden senior win

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t 6 foot 4 and with youth most definitely on his side, hitting the ball vast distances is certainly not a problem for Liu Loktin. Indeed, his long, languid swing enables him to propel the ball in excess of 280 yards from the tee—and that’s just with his 3-wood. But it was the 14-year-old’s touch on and around the greens at the tricky Old Course at The Hong Kong Golf Club that won him this title—and which now has him tagged as a future SAR international. “It was my chipping and putting, rather than my driving, that helped me today,” beamed Liu, a student at Elegantia in Sheung Shui. “I holed a lot of good putts and my short game really saved me. I needed that to score as well I did.” Liu carded 3 birdies in a total Gross Stableford score of 30 to finish two points ahead of Satoshi Enoki in second place. William Chan placed third, a further two points adrift. Liu’s victory was significant. Not only did this long driving junior—a product of the HKGA’s junior program—outshine his older playing competitors, but it was the manner of his victory that impressed. On a course that demands accuracy, Liu let the driver have a rest for most of the round—using it only twice in eighteen holes—opting instead for his fairway woods and hybrids from the tee. “I didn’t actually hit the ball that well,” admitted Liu, whose otherwise stellar round ended poorly with a double bogey at the par-5 17th (after a lost ball) and a

Spring surprise (clockwise from top left): Liu pitches to the 16th; a few years yet before he’s legally allowed to own one; Ronald Fung carded an impressive 40 points; all the winners.

SCORES – GROSS DIVISION 1. Liu Lok-tin 30 2. Satoshi Enoki 28 3. William Chan 26 4. Tong Siu-man 25 5. Eric Lee 24 Kwok Kam-tin 24 7. Roger Sin 23 Ronald Fung 23 Terry Greene 23 Dave Howgego 23 Tung Tuck-heng 23 Leung Chi-shing 23 Ronald Wong 23 Jeffrey Ho 23

bogey at the 18th. “But I’ve practiced really hard on my short game and it paid off. I think today proved that there’s more to my game that just hitting the ball a long way.” Ronald Fung claimed the Nett Division honours with 40 Stableford points following a countback win over Terence Lai in second place. Kwong Foo-man, who along with Jeffrey Ho and Alan Cheung, recorded 39 points, finished third, after another decision on countback. But this will be forever remembered as Liu’s day, a day that brought him his first senior tournament victory—and the promise that there will be many more to come. 42

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WWW.HKGA.COM

WWW.HKGA.COM

Liu Lok-tin features in this month’s Junior Training instruction section. To learn how to hit the same shots that brought him success, turn to page 21.

SCORES – NETT DIVISION 1. Ronald Fung 40 2. Terence Lai 40 3. Kwong Foo-man 39 4. Jeffrey Ho 39 4. Alan Cheung 39 6. Yeung Biu-wah 38 Satoshi Enoki 38 Kwok Kam-tin 38 9. Roger Sin 37 10. Dickson Siu 36 Tong Siu-man 36 Terry Greene 36 Ronald Wong 36 Tung Tuck-heng 36

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Gear Guide

TaylorMade r7 CGB Max Rescue

Titleist AP1 and AP2 Irons for Everyone

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itleist irons for the mid-handicapper? While this might sounds like an oxymoron—the brand has traditionally targeted Tour pros and single figure handicappers with their buttery-soft blades—the introduction of the Advanced Performance (AP)1 irons marks a significant shift in the company’s thinking. Cast from 431 stainless steel, the AP1 features a dual cavity back and a slightly thicker-than-normal topline (not to mention some snazzy, most un-Titleist like graphics) making it far more forgiving and a lot edgier-looking than its predecessors. A low centre of gravity results in a higher launch angle, which will appeal to those with slower swing speeds. The AP2 irons are like the AP1 irons in that they are also multi-material constructed and dual cavity, but the resemblance ends there. A forged carbon steel body gives the AP2 the workability and feedback of a muscleback, making it more alluring to lower handicappers. Adam Scott seems to like them—the Aussie won the Qatar Masters and EDS Byron Nelson Championship with a set in his bag. The AP family comes with NS Pro 950 stock shafts, while Project X is an option on the AP2 irons.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

MacGregor NV-NXR Driver

The Great White Shark’s Choice

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t’s been an exciting last few months for the folks at MacGregor. Firstly, Greg Norman acquired a controlling stake in the company (and has now been named chairman) and secondly, its latest driver hogged the limelight at the Japan Golf Show. Heady stuff for a manufacturer approaching its 110th birthday. The new NV-NXR features the brand’s much lauded Cup Face Technology (a feature which supposedly enlarges the sweetspot to mega proportions) and a whopping 460cc head, which, the company says, benefits from an increased MOI. All versions of the club (9, 10 and 11 degrees of loft) are characterized by a slightly closed clubface, which should benefit those searching for a more penetrating flight.

$9,600 (AP1) / $12,800 (AP2) Contact: www.titleist.com

Yes! Golf Sandy

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he 3-iron is dead. Long live the hybrid. Billed as their most forgiving Rescue to date (“easier to hit than your 7-iron,” boasts the manufacturer’s press release), the vivid cherry colour and triangular shape of this TaylorMade club might take a bit of getting used to, but persevere and you’ll be rewarded. Per fec t for sweepi ng through those gnarly lies in the rough, the shallow face helps get t he ba l l airborne quicker, while the lightweight 55-gram shaft promotes greater clubhead speed, resulting, in theory, longer shots. Available in lofts of 19, 22 and 25 degrees. HK$2,400 Contact: www.taylormadegolf.com

HK$4,900 Contact: www.macgregorgolf.com.hk

Get Into the Groove

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e s! Golf is certainly letting the good times rol l: t he Denverbased outf it, famed for its tech nolog ica l ly adva nced C-Groove putters, enjoyed 28 Tour wins in 2007—remarkable given that, unlike the major brands, Yes! doesn’t pay any of the pros to use their equipment. Of all their latest models, the Sandy looks the most intriguing: a facebalanced mallet design with a streamlined double delta back, which helps produce an extremely high Moment of Inertia (MOI), a factor that relates to stability at impact. The putter is also extremely easy to align thanks to its squarish dimensions and clear sight line. Combine this with those C-Grooves and a stylish tri-colour grip and they have a winner. $1,500 Contact: www.yesgolf.com 44

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WWW.HKGA.COM

WWW.HKGA.COM

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Academy

Golf ’s Magic Move Why you need to learn the Transition BY IAIN ROBERTS, Hong Kong National Coach

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he crucial movement that many golfers never learn is the transition, or “magic move,” as the legendary Harvey Penick termed it. Why is it so important? Well, it can add an extra thirty to fifty yards on a drive, but it is not easy to learn and it takes a long time to master. One of the reasons for this is that

the transition is formed from a sequence of key positions which are then fused together to produce one flowing movement. It is the part of the swing which becomes a purely athletic move, similar to the move of a javelin or a discus thrower in that there is a delay action in the arms as they follow the weight transfer of the body.

firm left side

slow

left foot grounded

delay

weight transfer

weight transfer

1

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As you reach the top of your backswing (Photo 1) you should start to transfer your weight calmly back onto your left foot (Photo 2). As your left foot becomes firmly grounded your left knee and hip will move laterally thus stabilizing into a firm left side and the arms and shoulders should follow slowly. You are aiming for a feeling of the arms delaying slightly as the weight transfer is taking place (Photo 3). Now you are able to release the build up of power into the ball and through to the finish. (Photo 4).

2

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WWW.HKGA.COM

4

Iain Roberts is the Head Professional at The Hong Kong Golf Club and author of The Busy Golfer, which is available from Fanling and Deep Water Bay Pro Shops. To book a lesson at the Iain Roberts Golf School, please contact 2670-0647 (Fanling) or 2812-0334 (Deep Water Bay).

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Why Fitness Comes First

Get in shape for golf—you know you need to!

By Heidi Reyes

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orget buying a new driver to increase your length off the tee. If you want to prevent injury, increase your levels of energy during your round and hit the ball further than you have ever done before then you should be participating in a physical conditioning program that addresses the various and specific needs of golfers. In the past, golf was treated as a leisurely pursuit, one that could be played effectively without physical conditioning of any sort. Then, as physically fit players such as Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam began to dominate the Tour with their explosive power, efficiency, flexibility, and ability to compete with boundless energy week after week, the rest of the golf world took notice. Watch any PGA, LPGA or Asian Tour event, and you’ll see that the most successful players are also the best-conditioned. Fitness has indeed become an integral part of the preparation process for competition, as golfers now realize that a better body means better performance. Tiger Woods, in a recent interview with Men’s Fitness, let the world in on part of the secret to his success, saying that he “treats golf as a sport” and “lets other people treat it like a hobby”. Tiger is no stranger to hard work. He trains 5 to 6 days a week (even during tournaments), doing about 40 minutes of stretching, core work, runs of up to 7 miles and weights, since he feels that “it would be asinine for someone not to work out and go play football. It doesn’t make sense for golf either”. Golf should indeed be treated as a sport. The swing itself is a complex athletic movement that involves moving the whole body in a coordinated sequence, generating power to strike the ball and launch it great distances with accuracy. The ability to repeat the swing 40, 50 or more times a round and walk for 3 to 5 hours in the heat demands endurance. The ability to carry your golf bag or hit out of thick rough requires strength. Hitting from the sand or an awkward lie requires balance. Rotation of the trunk and shoulders during the swing requires 48

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Around the Clubs

flexibility. Power, endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility—just part of the puzzle that makes golf such a wonderful and challenging sport! Having a stronger body will help you to play better golf, but there’s more. Fit golfers also suffer from fewer injuries than their unfit counterparts. The majority of injuries in golf are overuse-related injuries such as tendonitis of the elbow or low-back pain. In any given round, with an average score of 90, a player may swing a club well over 200 times (including practice swings and a bucket of balls at the range). Any area of weakness in the body will be more susceptible to injury after that many repetitions. Poor technique, improper warm-up and illfitting clubs will also increase a golfer’s injury rate. With each injury requiring an average of 5 weeks of recovery time, prevention through exercise becomes ever more important. So what can we do to get fit for golf and prevent injury? Here’s some tips to help you stay healthy and perform better:

The Hong Kong Golf Club Macwhinnie Cup Final 30 March D T Wong won the Macwhinnie Cup Final played over the Old Course with +1. T Chatjaval was the runner-up with All Square. Duffers Plate – Gross Section 13 April J. Pethes won the Duffers Plate Gross Section played over the Old & Eden Courses with 64 points. D.C. Nimmo was the runner-up with 63 points, finishing ahead of C.W. Stone on countback. Chinese Cup – Nett Section 13 April S. Limbu & C.W. Stone tied in the Chinese Cup Nett Section played over the Old & Eden Courses with 75 points. They will play off on a date to be decided. Monthly Medal 3 May C. Halliday won the Monthly Medal Gross Section played over the Eden Course on 3 May with a 73. T. Collins claimed victory in the Nett Section with a 70.

Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club

Julius Baer Inter-Club League Standings

Ladies Stableford 9 April Division 1 Winner: Division 1 Runner-up: Division 2 Winner: Division 2 Runner-up:

Lydia Mak (36 points) Mari Maeda (32 points) Kanako Tanaka (39 points) Minshaw (36 points)

 Strength train: Pumping iron will strengthen your muscles, tendons, and bones, so you can generate more force will less effort.

Spring Cup 16 April Gross Winner: Nett Winner: Nett Runner-up: Nett 2nd Runner-Up:

Mari Maeda (86) Anita Chu (71) Mei Wu (73) Haj Wilcox(75)

 Stretch: Improving your flexibility will allow you to rotate your body for a longer swing, adding yards to your shots and lessening your chance of soft tissue strains.

Spring Vase 16 April Gross Winner: Nett Winner: Nett Runner-up: Nett 2nd Runner-Up:

Lily Lau (94) Akiko Harada (63) Nakako Honda (64) Linda Wang

 Core training: Training the muscles that affect your spine will help you to avoid low back pain and to hit the ball with greater control.

Ladies May Medal 23 April Division 1 Gross Winner: Division 1 Nett Winner: Divison 1 Nett Runner-Up: Division 2 Gross Winner: Division 2 Nett Winner: Division 2 Nett Runner-Up:

Sunny Kang (89) Sylvia Weber (76) Joyce Kerr Winnie Lam (88) Kanako Tanaka (69) Chikako Yabe (70)

 Cardiovascular training: Fatigue at the end of the round or after walking up hills in the Hong Kong heat can cause you to hit sloppy shots and ruin your scores. The more fit your heart, the more energy you’ll have throughout the entire round.

Captain’s Cup 26 April Gross Winner: Gross Runner-up: Nett Winner: Nett Runner-up:

David Hui (76) Sibo Yan (80) Tony Melloy (70 C/B) T.Y. Chow (70)

Leg 1, Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club 28-29 April

Chairman’s Cup 26 April Winner: Runner-up:

Tony To (41 points) F.H. Leung (38 points)

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9=

 Warm up: Loosen up your muscles and joints before playing and they will work more efficiently.

Discovery Bay Golf Club Monthly Medal 30 March Men’s Section Gross Winner: Division A Winner: Division B Winner: Division C Winner: Ladies Section Gross Winner: Division A Winner: Division B Winner:

 See a professional: Proper technique and club-fitting are paramount to peak performance and injury prevention.  Nutrition: If you want to perform like a well-oiled machine, then give your body the right fuel to keep your energy levels up and feel good.

Hopefully by now you agree that improving your fitness will improve your golf game. Looking at the bigger picture, not only will your hard work pay off in lower golf scores and fewer injuries, but you’ll also feel and perform better in every other aspect of your life. WWW.HKGA.COM

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Pros like Natalie Gulbis know the importance of exercise and stretching.

Results

Monthly Medal 27 April Men’s Section Gross Winner: Division A Winner: Division B Winner: Division C Winner: Ladies Section Gross Winner: Division A Winner: Division B Winner: WWW.HKGA.COM

Stephen Ahmoye (77) J.W. Koh (70) Peter Chu (65) Y.K. Ho (42 points) Vikki Van (83) Helene Cheung (67) Regina Galy (38 points)

B.W. Park (73) Matajiro Nagatomi (65) Ken Lee (66) K.C. Ho (43 points) Rungnapa Winchester (80) Y.H. Woo (71) Y.S. Lee (36 points)

As of 25 May 2008 Premier Division Played HKGC 3 DBGC 2 CWBG&CC 1

Won 3 0 0

Lost 0 2 1

Halved 0 0 0

Points 6 0 0

First Division Played HKGC 4 SOCC 3 DBGC 3 CWBG&CC 2

Won 3 1 1 1

Lost 1 2 2 1

Halved 0 0 0 0

Points 6 2 2 2

HKPGA Order of Merit

1. 2=

Tang Shing-chi David Freeman Dominique Boulet Derek Fung Grant Gibson Wong Woon-man Fung Wai-keun Lee Man-lok Vaughan Mason Tang Man-kee

72-68 70-71 74-67 69-74 69-75 70-77 75-73 74-75 79-71 74-76

Ladies Division 1. Betty Ng 2. Melody Chan 3. Sandy Yim 4. Ho Mei-dik 5. Sylvia Chan

83-81 84-85 86-84 90-85 89-87

164 169 170 175 176

Seniors Division 1. Tang Shu-wing 2. Alex Tang 3. Stanley Leung 4. Michael Kan 5. Fred Morales

74-69 75-70 77-74 78-83 82-80

143 145 151 161 162

140 141 141 143 144 147 148 149 150 150

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Event Calendar

The 2008 HKGA Tournament Schedule

Clearwater Bay will host the MacGregor Hong Kong Open Junior Championship in August; Miguel Angel Jimenez will return to defend his UBS Hong Kong Open title in November; Demi Mak will be seeking her first victory at the Helene et Henri Hong Kong Ladies Amateur Open in September.

June 03

July 02

St James’ Cup Charity Tournament Kau Sai Chau, East Course

08

July Stableford Tournament Clearwater Bay G&CC

14

Albert KW Lai Junior Tournament Discovery Bay GC

August 14-15

MacGregor Hong Kong Open Junior Championship Clearwater Bay G&CC

September 24-26

Helene et Henri Hong Kong Ladies Amateur Open and Mid Amateur Open Championships Clearwater Bay G&CC

22-25

Stanch traditionalists of the game might not like it, but the fact remains that ninety percent of the golf courses being built in Asia today form part of luxury property developments. The days of the stand-alone course, earning revenue solely through green fees, membership dues and bar sales are most certainly over. And although the region’s golf course real estate market as a whole is still finding its feet, it is becoming increasingly popular for wealthy urbanites to splash out on a holiday home that abuts a links. Retirees, too, are seeing the benefits of these gated communities. It’ s understandable: who wouldn’t want to live in a safe green environment with golf right on the doorstep? If there has been one criticism of golf homes, however, it’s that many lack the privacy and seclusion that make the concept so appealing in the f irst place. With overenthusiastic developers looking to squeeze every last dollar out of the land available, the curse of cheek-by-jowl housing has reared its ugly head at some of the region’s better known clubs. Living on a golf course is one thing; living on a golf course whose fairways have been hemmed in by hundreds of properties is quite another. Here are three developments that promise not only space and privacy, but which are also attached to terrific courses.

Masters Golf Fashion Hong Kong Amateur Open and Mid Amateur Open Championships Hong Kong GC

HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

Koh Samui, Thailand Although not a golf course real estate project by strict definition, this community, comprising just nineteen luxury 3 bedroom villas, is only a 2-minute cart ride from the fabulously scenic Santiburi Samui Country Club, the island’s only golf course. Set for completion in mid-2009, the developers offer a ‘peace of mind’ package, including land title insurance with each unit, a ten year structural guarantee and a one year defects warranty. Buyers also get automatic membership to Thailand Elite, a VIP privilege programme operated by the Thailand Tourism Authority that offers members fast-track immigration service, complimentary green fees at more than twenty of Thailand’s top golf courses and a renewable five-year multiple-entry visa. Visit lynxthailand.com

Dubai, U.A.E

05-07 The Hong Kong Seniors Open Championship Hong Kong GC 10-11 UBS Hong Kong Open Qualifying Tournament Venue TBD 10-11 Faldo Series Hong Kong Championship Venue TBD 20-23 UBS Hong Kong Open Championship Hong Kong GC

December 05

Amara Golf Village

Arabian Ranches

November

HKGA Pairs Tournament Discovery Bay GC

29-30 Mizuno Winter Junior Tournament Kau Sai Chau

For the most up-to-date listings of HKGA and overseas events, go to www.hkga.com 50

Far from the Madding Crowd

October Johnnie Walker Hong Kong Classic Clearwater Bay G&CC

Golf Homes

WWW.HKGA.COM

Sta. Elena Laguna, Philippines Low density is the name of the game at this exclusive residential community, which is tucked behind the tropical foliage of the cracking 27-hole Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Sta. Elena Golf & Country Club. Only forty minutes from the centre of Makati, delightful multi-storey Mediterranean-style villas are available for purchase now, or, as many residents here have done, you can start from scratch and build your own dream home. Lot sizes range from 3,500sq ft to 10,000+sq ft. Financing is also available. Visit staelena.com.ph WWW.HKGA.COM

Popular with expatriates working in the Gulf state, this fully-fledged g o l f c o m muni t y will also appeal to those in search of a second home which combines s tellar golf with the convenience of living in a m o d e r n c i t y. A 30-minute drive from the resorts of Jumeirah Beach, Arabian Ranches of fer s a staggering array of proper ties— from 1,600sq ft townhouses to sprawling 7,000+sq ft palaces—all within close proximity of the magnificent Ian Baker-Finch-designed desert links, arguably the strongest test of golf in the Middle East. An international school, polo club and mini shopping mall are among the many amenities here. Visit emaar.com HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

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Golfer’s Journal

OLD WORLD CHARM

Eccentricities abound at Sri Lanka’s Royal Colombo Golf Club

F

or the golf-starved traveller, the most rewarding aspect of wondering aimlessly through Asia is that you’re pretty much bound to discover great courses in the most unlikely of places. Whether you find yourself in the steamy jungles of Sumatra or in the cooler central highlands of the Malaysian peninsula, there is seemingly always a worthy layout to get your softspikes stuck into. I was reminded of this very fact on a recent trip to Sri Lanka. Compared to the golfing nirvanas of Thailand, Japan and, increasingly, China, this island nation, home to 18 million people and only four courses, doesn’t really ‘do’ golf. Cricket rules the roost here, and all other sports take a back seat. But don’t let that put you off. The golf here, what little they have of it, is good—and at the Royal Colombo Golf Club they have one of the most intriguing courses around. Established in 1879, making it one of the oldest clubs outside the British Isles, Royal Colombo is situated in the western suburbs of the country’s commercial capital, barely a 15-minute taxi ride from the main international hotels of the city’s financial district. Unfortunately, I travelled to the club by tuk-tuk (or threewheeler, as the Sri Lankans refer to these motorized tricycles), which adds at least 10 minutes and immeasurable discomfort to the journey. But I Royal Colombo Golf Club forgot all about that when I arrived Model Farm Road, Colombo 8 at what, in my mind at least, is one of Tel: +94 (011) 269-5431 the best clubhouses in the world. Website: www.rcgcsl.com Call me old-fashioned, but I am Yardage: 6,353. Par: 71 not a fan of the large, grandiose Walking course; caddies mandatory structures, featuring spas, saunas, Greens Fee: 2,400 rupees (HK$170)

squash courts and swimming pools, that pass for clubhouses at the majority of Asia’s newer courses. For me, a good 19th hole should be functional: a simple locker-room, a well-stocked pro shop, an even better-stocked bar and a restaurant serving a decent array of carbohydratebased snacks. Royal Colombo has all of this, plus a wonderful veranda overlooking the eighth and 18th greens where you can relax with a bottle of locally brewed Lion lager and watch the club’s ageing membership hack their way back home. The waiters may not run around barefoot as they did back in colonial days, but they’re unfalteringly polite and quick to make recommendations from the club’s exotic menu. Like almost everywhere else in Asia, caddies are a mainstay at Royal Colombo, but unlike the pretty young girls you tend to find in other countries, Royal Colombo’s caddies are all men—and what’s more they know their stuff. Jinasena, a 60-year-old Sinhalese with wild facial hair, was the man chosen to lug my hefty bag around for the afternoon and was quick to provide every ounce of information that I—or Tiger Woods—would ever need. “This is a short par-4, Sir,” he advised when we reached the second tee. “Aim at the lone tree on the left with your drive. A good shot here will only leave a pitching wedge to the green. But watch out! The pond in front of the putting surface will gobble up any short shots, so better to be long with your approach. Also the green has a lot of slope…are you a good putter, Sir?” “Well, I suppose I have my moments,” I said. “Then this is an excellent birdie opportunity,” he replied, oozing misplaced confidence by the bucketload. After slicing my ball onto the railway track that runs parallel with the fairway, Jinasena, his faith in my abilities well and truly extinguished, boasted: “I play to a handicap of three. But I’d be a WWW.HKGA.COM

lot better than that if they allowed us caddies to play more.” The real joy of playing Royal Colombo, however, comes from the variety of flora and fauna encountered on the course. Magnificent acacia and mara trees line many of the holes here, while lotus-filled ponds and lakes, home to great numbers of storks, ibis, spoonbills and pelicans, serve as the course’s predominant hazards. Giant monitor lizards—some of which measure up to five feet in length—can be seen sunning themselves by the side of the fairways, while snakes of all descriptions are said to lurk in the higher grasses of the rough. A round of golf at Royal Colombo is akin to walking through a wildlife sanctuary, the only difference being the occasional need to whack a small white ball towards a flag somewhere in the distance. To be perfectly honest, Royal Colombo will never make it onto a list of Asia’s best courses. It’s a little too rough around the edges, a little too eccentric perhaps, for those who judge these things. But that’s hardly the point. This is a complete one-off. A course with history, character and hardy old men called Jinasena who will carry your bag and regale you with stories of the club’s rich past. It is, I’m afraid to say, one of a dying breed.

Ball Boys Just skewed your drive into a lake? No problem. For a flat fee of 30 rupees (about HK$4), a sarong-clad villager will dive into the murky depths and retrieve it for you. An absolute blessing, given the price of golf balls today!

All Aboard the Bogey Train While the title of Royal Colombo’s hardest hole probably goes to the par-4 1st, which requires a long arrow-straight drive followed by a good mid-iron over a pond, things don’t get much more surreal than playing the 6th—but only at around 8am in the morning. At first glance there’ s nothing particularly taxing about this par-four. It measures less than 300-yards and the landing area is more than generous. But wonder up the fairway, and at roughly 50-yards short of the green you’ll notice that a railway track bisects the hole. This is the Kelani Valley railway line and every morning the Kelani Valley Express whooshes through ferrying commuters into the centre of Colombo. Free relief (two clublengths) is permitted for anyone whose ball comes to rest on the track.

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Final Shot

Monty Misses the Major Point a number of courses in China. So he can hardly be surprised that as his career enters its twilight years, he finds himself competing with the likes of Liang and others for invites to the big tournaments. And even if other factors are taken into account, it is no different as to why the burly Scot is still asked to play in Asian tournaments despite his recent decline. It cuts both ways and his reaction to his Masters snub could be described as hypocritical at best. But from a merely sporting point of view, his comments by Nick Wong also seem a little misplaced. True, it could be argued they were olin Montgomerie courted controversy ahead of borne out by the fact Liang missed the cut and Prayad withdrew the recent US Masters after the Scot blasted the due to injury. But most players struggle on their first visit to the tournament organisers for handing invites to China's intimidating Augusta layout. Even the mighty Tiger Woods only Liang Wen-chong, Indian Jeev Milkha Singh and managed a tie for 41st and a missed cut in his first two appearances. Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand while he was left to The impressive Singh, on the other hand, actually improved on put his feet up and watch the season's first major from his 2007 debut by 12 places after finishing in a tie for 25th. Liang became only the second Chinese golfer to feature at the Masters the comfort of his own home. The 44-year-old, not unaccustomed to speaking his mind but his inclusion was more than a novelty, he deserved his place at times, felt he had been overlooked for a place at Augusta in on merit. He became only the second player from the mainland favour of the Asian trio purely on commercial grounds rather to win a European Tour event when he triumphed in last year's Singapore Masters and the first to lead the Asian Tour's Order of than sporting talent. “If I were the only person in the country, a la China, I might Merit when he topped the money list the same year. This term, he get in,” he told reporters in Munich while promoting June's BMW has enjoyed top 10 finishes in Indonesia and at the Volvo China International Open ahead of the Masters. "It's a strange way to make Open and ended in a tie for 14th at the BMW Asian Open, while the 30-year-old has consistently led the Asian challenge whether on up a field for a major championship - TV rights. “They are quite open about why, just as they were when the European, Asian or Japanese tours in recent times. Montgomerie, by contrast, has found it tougher and tougher I missed out last time in 2005, when they picked Shingo Katayama, then 67th in the world. I was 51st at the time. They to compete and although his world ranking may currently be higher than Liang’s, it is only a matter of time before the latter picked him over me for the Japanese TV rights. “Let me tell you, I am not the only one who feels this way. In overtakes the former. Masters chairman Billy Payne was in no doubt he had made or not, I would be saying the same thing. “It is the only one [of the four majors] you can get invited to - you the right decision. “These three individuals are successful, don't get an invite to The Open or the China’s Liang Wen-chong in action accomplished and talented golfers deserving US Open or the US PGA. You have to at the 2007 UBS HK Open of a Masters invitation,” Payne said. “They qualify. But the Masters has its own rules. are outstanding representatives of their It would be easier to swallow if no one respective countries. There remains, we was invited and the entry list was based on believe, an untapped opportunity in Asia sporting and not commercial criteria.” where amateur golf has its greatest growth Now Montgomerie may feel he has potential. earned the right to air his views as an “We want to pursue the development eight-time winner of the European of amateur golf for the purpose of Order of Merit and a player widely creating heroes and legends among the regarded as the best never to win a major representative countries, establishing championship. But his remarks seem at role models who attract other kids to odds with the fact that the former Hong the game.” Kong Open, Singapore Masters, Macau Golf is rapidly becoming a global sport Open and TCL Classic winner is regularly and Montgomerie has contributed greatly invited to compete in Asian tournaments, to the development of the game in Asia. often with the lure of a financial incentive, He has thrilled crowds all over the region and his presence has done as much as and undoubtedly inspired more than one anyone to boost the profile of the game in youngster to pick up a set of clubs. So it this part of the world. would be a shame if he were to continue Indeed golf is one of the fastestto tarnish that legacy as his own great growing sports in the region, something career draws to a close. Monty clearly recognises having designed

“Montgomerie has contributed greatly to the development of the game in Asia… it would be a shame if he were to continue to tarnish that legacy as his own great career draws to a close.”

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HK GOLFER・MAY/JUNE 2008

Gareth Jones

C

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