HK Golfer Clubhouse: The world’s smallest watchmaker - JS Watch co. Reykjavik
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION ISSUE 57
Golf in Bali
Teeing it up on the Island of the Gods
THRILLER! HK go down fighting at an epic Putra Cup DISPLAY UNTIL NOVEMBER 15
Exclusive: Thongchai Jaidee on his remarkable career
42 On the Cover:
Shinichi Mizuno was the standout performer for Hong Kong in their epic Putra Cup tussle with Singapore last month Photo by Daniel Wong
32 | Last Man Standing
12 | In Focus
Bill Haas walked away from the Tour Championship US$11 million richer thanks to one of the most miraculous saves of the year By The Editors
36 | Renaissance Man
The way Thomas Bjorn has reacted to his remarkable run of form makes him an ideal candidate for the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy By Lewine Mair
42 | Oh So Close
Hong Kong, led by Shinichi Mizuno, came within a whisker of recording their first Putra Cup win in half a century in a thrilling final round at the Southeast Asia Team Championship By The Editors
50 | The Next Move
Having secured a golf scholarship to the prestigious Arizona State University, former junior standout Tiffany Chan talks about an exciting new phase in her amateur career By David Cunningham III
The HK Golfer single malts editor enjoys a nice surprise in the form of two expressions from the Isle of Jura By John Bruce
26 | Tee Time
Gone are the days when luxury watches were exclusively Swiss in origin. Introducing JS Watch Co. Reykjavik, probably the world's smallest watch company By Richard Reid
58 | Love, Play, Eat
48 | Ladies Open
70 | Final Shot - Thongchai Jaidee
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
21 | Single Malts
30 | Money Matters
The HK Golfer guide to golf on the Indonesian island of Bali, the Island of the Gods By Craig Morrison
A pictorial review of the past 30 days – locally and globally By The Editors
52 | The Quiet Italian
A year ago Francesco Molinari put the seal on a remarkable 12 months with one of the most sensational tournament displays ever seen in Asian golf, when he and Lee Westwood finished streets ahead of a world-class field at the WGC-HSBC Champions By Tim Maitland
The brilliant Thai, winner of four European Tour events, talks about playing with Colin Montgomerie, his compassion for Tiger Woods, the state of his own game and his life as a paratrooper in the Thai Army By Alex Jenkins
Our financial columnist discusses what is happening to offshore banking secrecy – and how it might affect you By Howard Bilton Philippine star Jayvie Agojo finishes strong to win her first individual title of the year at Fanling By The Editors
66 | Global Tournament News
Reports on the latest professional golf news and world rankings By The Editors HKGOLFER.COM
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION OCT 2011 • Issue 57
Editor: Alex Jenkins email: firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Assistant: Cindy Kwok Playing Editor: Jean Van de Velde Photo Editor: Daniel Wong Contributing Editors: Lewine Mair, Ariel Adams, Robert Lynam, Evan Rast, David Cunningham III Published by:
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58 DE PA R T M E N T S 10
HK Golfer Mailbag
Around the HKGA
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HK Golfer・OCT 2011
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HK Golfer Mailbag undergoing serious maintenance, which we weren't warned about in advance. This maintenance work certainly affected our enjoyment of the course, but what makes Spring City good is the fact that they listened to our concerns. They have since promised to keep visitors abreast of any significant maintenance work via their website. That, in our view at least, is how it should be.
I generally agree with the way you rate golf courses – over the years I have found myself nodding in agreement when reading your take on the courses that I have also played. But I think you were wrong to describe Stone Forest International Country Club in Kunming as one of the best new courses in China [see Out With the Old, September 2011]. I haven't played the members' only Yufeng Ridge, but the other two courses there, while nice enough, cannot be considered among the best that the mainland has to offer. I can't imagine the pros would enjoy them – they're downright wacky in places. It's been around for a long time now, but in my opinion, Spring City (pictured) still rules the roost in Kunming. Alfred Ong [Recently moved to] Singapore Editor’s reply: One man's trash is another man's treasure – that would be one way of looking at it, Alfred. But your point is valid. All three courses at Stone Forest are undoubtedly spectacular and – in our opinion – great fun to play. Shame you missed out on the members' only Yufeng Ridge, which is the star of the show, but we do admire the other two as well. I would say, however, that when we give positive views on courses, we're not seeing them through the eyes of people who want to host huge international tournaments ... we're seeing them as places that average golfers – and by that I mean folk in the 5 - 18 handicap range – will find playable within their skill range, enjoy greatly because of their design and (hopefully) scenic location, and their management – like nearly everyone else, we abhor five-hour rounds and ill-kept greens. To your point about the pros – as one golf course designer told me once: "If I designed a course that the pros raved about, they'd all be shooting 58s." As a side note, we love Spring City too, although when we last visited, the Lake Course was 10
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I have been sending score cards to the Hong Kong Golf Association by post for keeping my handicap updated and current for a number of years. I also use the handicap machine at the Kau Sai Chau pro shop after each round there and recently noticed that it is possible to submit scores for some non-Kau Sai Chau courses as well on the same machine. Does the HKGA have any plans in making this process available on their website, maybe covering at least the courses in Hong Kong to start with? Stephen Loo Mid-Levels Editor’s reply: Firstly, congratulations Stephen on keeping an updated handicap. I've played in too many tournaments – mostly overseas, I should stress – where the unrealistically low winning score has been down to the fact that the "champion" has failed to keep their handicap up to date. Anyhow, rant over. The HKGA are exploring their options when it comes to online handicapping – and you'll have probably noticed that it is now possible to pay for handicap renewal and tournament entry via the HKGA's website – hkga.com. Those interested in learning more about handicapping and course ratings are welcome to join a course hosted by the USGA, in harness with the HKGA, in Hong Kong from November 15-17. More details are available online. We Want to Hear from You! Have something to say about an article in HK Golfer or a topic affecting golf in our area? Send your thoughts and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also include your address, contact number, email and HKGA #. The winner of the best letter will receive a bottle of Champagne Louis Roederer courtesy of Links Concept.
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Local Focus Pipped at the Post Hong Kong's Shinichi Mizuno drives at the 13th hole at Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club during the final round of the 51st Putra Cup last month. Mizuno, 17, was in sensational form, reaching six-under on his round before closing with two double bogeys, which denied him the individual honours in the prestigious regional championship. The reigning Hong Kong Close champion, who eventually signed for a 68, had to settle for second place, two shots behind Singapore's Choo Tsz-huang. Hong Kong were runners-up in the team competition. Turn to page 42 for the full story. Photo by Daniel Wong
Solheim Focus Queen of the Castle Spain's Azahara Munoz fires her approach to the final green during her crucial one hole win over Angela Standford on the final day of the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle in Ireland late September. At the end of a dramatic day, Europe secured a narrow 15-13 victory over the United States â€“ only their fourth win in the 12 contests to date. World number two Suzann Pettersen recorded one of the finest comebacks in the event's history. One down with three to play against Michelle Wie, the Norwegian birdied the final three holes to claim a much-needed point for her continent. Photo by AFP
Global Focus Barack & Bill President Obama is no stranger to the golf course – he has played once a week on average since taking up office nearly three years ago, earning him the moniker – from this publication at least – "Commander in Cleats". But in late September he teed it up at his usual haunt – the 18-hole track at the Joint Base Andrews in Maryland – for the very first time with former President Bill Clinton, another golf nut, and one known for his proactive use of the mulligan. While the presidential pairs’ scores were not released, a spokesman said that the two men “enjoyed their round”, which reportedly took a little over four hours to complete. Photo by AFP
New Man on the Bag for Tiger
Tiger Woods has hired Joe LaCava to replace long-time Kiwi caddie Steve Williams whom he had a falling out with earlier this year. The 14-time major winner Woods took two months to find a replacement after splitting with former bagman and best man at his wedding Williams in July. Williams is now working with Adam Scott. "Joe LaCava is an outstanding caddie and I have known him since I was an amateur, really looking forward to having him on my bag," Woods wrote on his Twitter site. LaCava worked 20 years as a caddie for 2011 US Presidents Cup team captain Fred Couples. Most recently he has been carrying the bag for PGA Tour star Dustin Johnson, who has risen to number five in the world rankings. Woods is currently 50th. Johnson's swing coach Butch Harmon first told Sky Sports TV about the caddie hiring during the telecast of the final round of the Tour Championship in Atlanta â€“ and expressed his shock. "The thing that bothered me the most was TW not calling Dustin and asking if he could talk to Joe," said Harmon, who worked Woods during his peak. "That's the way it's done. I'm a little disappointed with the way Tiger handled it. But I'm not surprised." The post on Woods' website said he talked to Johnson after LaCava (both pictured) informed his employer he was leaving to work with Woods. The website story also said Woods spoke to Couples about the decision. Given Woods' recent form, the decision by LaCava to offer him his services appears somewhat bizarre. But it is expected that Johnson will play more events on the European Tour next season, which would mean long-time looper LaCava, the father of two children, would be spending even more time travelling, something he is keen to avoid. Woods, even when fully healthy, plays a limited schedule.
HK GolferăƒťOCT 2011
Big Easy Splits from Chubby Ernie Els has split with former manager Chubby Chandler, moving management support for his career to his new office in Florida, Els said in a posting on his website. Els, a three-time major champion, had worked with Chandler's British-based International Sports Management since 2004. The 41-year-old African cited his schedule keeping him in America more and more and his new office as reasons. "I just feel like it's the right time to make this move," Els said. "After so many years based in the UK and travelling the world golf circuit since turning pro, it is nice now to consolidate our activities in one place." T h e m ov e c o m e s a s Chandler (pictured) revels in the joy of having players he manages win three major titles this year and four of the past six. Chandler's champions include South Africans Louis Oosthuizen from last yea r's Open Championship and Charl Schwartzel from this year's Masters, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy at this year's US Open and Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke f ro m t h i s ye a r 's O p e n Championship. "I wish Chubby and all the guys great continued success," Els said. HKGOLFER.COM
Westwood Joins the China Golf Challenge Successful Golf Debut for Habitat Charity Over 80 golfers took to the course at Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club in late August for the 2011 Habitat Golf for Charity Tournament, the first time the charity has used golf in its fund-raising efforts. The move proved a successful one, with nearly HK$200,000 raised on the day, which will be used to help Habitat For Humanity build homes for mainland families who lack safe shelter. "We were very glad to join this charity event and hope that society can pay more attention to assisting Chinese people build a new future," said actor-singer Michael Wong, the guest of honour, who took part in the tournament along with his son, Kadin. Since its formation in 1976, Habitat for Humanity has built and improved more than 500,000 houses worldwide, providing shelter for more than 2.5 million people. For more information visit habitatchina.org
World number two Lee Westwood has replaced Ernie Els in the Shui On Land China Golf Challenge from October 10-16 after the South African withdrew from the week-long, 18-hole event due to personal reasons. The Englishman’s participation means the event boasts two of the world’s top three players after Rory McIlroy moved to third in the official standings following a productive September. Westwood (pictured), who has already won two titles in Asia this year, joins McIlroy, their Ryder Cup teammate Ian Poulter and Chinese number one Liang Wen-chong for the innovative, made-for-television tournament. The four golfers will compete over two or three holes at each of eight courses in Shanghai (October 10), Beijing (October 11 and 12), Dalian (October 13), Chongqing (October 14), Dongguan (October 15) and Macau (October 16). The quartet will also participate in pro-ams and coaching clinics at selected venues and will fly by private jet between each of the courses. The Macau leg, which will be final stop, will be held at Caesars Golf on the Cotai Strip and will likely play a key role in determining the outcome of the tournament. The 16th, a midlength par-three, and the 18th, a short par-four, are the holes selected for the challenge.
“OK, tell me how many because I'm tired of holding these guys up.” - John Daly asks a rules official how many shots he's going to be penalised after taking an incorrect drop during the second round of the Austrian Open last month. Daly, who was on the way to missing the cut, was given a two-shot penalty and promptly walked off the course. In the last five years, Daly has withdrawn from over 10 per cent of the tournaments he has entered.
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
CLUBHOUSE Away from the Fairways
Island Tasting: Isle of Jura's Prophecy expression
Fundamentally Reassuring John Bruce enjoys a nice surprise in the form of two expressions from the Isle of Jura
f ter 52 years on this earth, I like to think that there are some certainties in life. But when Einstein is assigned the dunce’s cap by those revisionist types at the Large Hadron Collider, a person has to re-examine some of life’s fundamentals. Apparently over the last three years they have managed to send neutrinos from Geneva to Italy faster than the speed of light on 16,000 occasions. As you can imagine, this has caused a wee frisson of concern in the scientific community, as the theory of relativity is somewhat fundamental to all that we thought we understood about the universe. I would ask a more pertinent question: why were the neutrinos (admittedly an anagram of “Turin nose”) so keen to get to Italy in the first place? CONTINUED OVERLEAF HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Jura lies just to the northeast of Islay, but don't be thinking the island's produce similar whisky - their malts are quite different from one another 22
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Of course the Collider hasn’t just done that. It has also failed to detect the Higgs boson particle, otherwise known as the God particle, despite all of the theory guaranteeing that it would. Given the fact that they are backing away from their dark matter theory of the universe I would imagine that there might be a few refund applications on the desks of a few scientific colleges around the world. Reading about the end of science as we know it reminded me of a similar questioning of fundamentals that I experienced when I recently sampled the Isle of Jura single malt. I was on my way back to Scotland when I was somewhat taken by the “2 for £70” offer at Heathrow airport and duly purchased a bottle of 16 year old Isle of Jura and an 18 year old Dalmore. The Dalmore met expectations and will be reviewed at a later date but, never having tasted a malt from Jura, I was nevertheless confident in what I would be sampling and thought that it would be a mere matter of comparing it with similar island malts. The problem is, as the Collider crew will tell you, no theory can ever be absolutely proven, but it only takes one conclusive experiment to wreck it. Jura itself lies just to the northeast of Islay, the home of some of the most distinguishable and indeed distinguished of single malts, all of them redolent of salt, peat and smoke. I poured my first drop of Jura and prepared to compare this new experience with the offerings from its more famous Hebridean neighbour. Perhaps this was not quite the shock to life’s fundamentals as that delivered by the LHC, but peat was nigh on as absent as Higgs boson and there was spiciness but no hint of salt. If I had been presented
with this at a blind tasting, I wou ld h ave pl ac e d it somewhere on the mainland near Glenlivet, although it has a honeyed ending that didn’t quite fit that location. Essentially, Isle of Jura was so different from what I expected that I had to ditch all of my preconceptions and reassess it completely. This expression has slight wooden undertones but the abiding impression was of a full bodied, spicy, quite sweetly finished single malt. At this point, somewhat later than perhaps I should have, I visited the website of the distillery and found that this small island of just over two hundred people has its own rich tradition of producing a unique Hebridean malt. I was particularly encouraged by the need to educate myself further and acquired a bottle of their Prophecy expression, as I felt that statistically it should take more than one experiment to destroy a perfectly valid expectation. The people of the islands are known as Diurachs and the website describes them, their history and their single malts in some detail. It is an interesting read for a workday distraction and the Prophecy expression was an equally fascinating tipple. It was very different from the 16 year old and perhaps, as this was what I had originally wanted to taste in a Hebridean malt, I much preferred this expression. Although nowhere near the Islay level, the peat and sea saltiness were readily apparent but the follow through was still spicy and hinted at sweetness. It benefitted from a very small addition of water and in my opinion is a remarkably different island malt. I am encouraged to try some of the other expressions from this tiny island and would recommend the Prophecy or the 16 year old to anyone with similar preconceptions to mine, or indeed to anyone who delights in usquebaugh. Einstein famously stated that “God does not play dice”, although quantum mechanics tested his faith. Similarly “Tiger Woods will win more majors than Jack Nicklaus” can perhaps be consigned to the same dustbin as “all Hebridean malts are peaty”, but there are some fundamentals that defy the revisionists. The website for the Isle of Jura distillery confronts you with the choice “English” or “Francais” and that reassures me that the Auld Alliance still exists. Einstein may have erred but that is only human. I suppose its all relative but, compared to any other tipple, I find single malts to be divine. HKGOLFER.COM
At the end of a great day... ... a sublime experience
As Jim Murray said in his Whisky Bible, “…A whisky that gives you the will to live !” We chose this as our first release because we had never tasted a distilled spirit at once so old – and so young. Only a taste can tell you how splendid it really is. And when it’s finished (which is very soon, now) there may not be anything like it for a while; it took us many years to find these 1,348 bottles, and it will be a long search for its successor. Meanwhile, we suggest you have a look at our cognac 1950, 478 bottles of which have just been released.
firstname.lastname@example.org; (852) 3590 4153 lastdropdistillers.com
Icelandic Ingenuity Gone are the days when luxury watches were exclusively Swiss in origin. Robert Reid introduces JS Watch Co. Reykjavik, probably the world's smallest watch company
tarting a luxury watch brand in Iceland might seem like an overly ambitious endeavour. The country is a little short of cash right now and its obvious forte is for volcanic disruption, not horological wizardry. Sigurdur Gilbertsson is one of the four founders of Iceland’s first and only watch firm, JS Watch co. Reykjavik. He’s also the first to admit that clockwork commodities don’t exactly spring to mind when one considers Iceland. “We’ve been making watches now for seven years, but when we came up with the idea everyone said we were crazy," remembers Gilbertsson. "In fact my father laughed pretty hard when I asked him to get involved.” Despite his initial response Gilbertsson’s father, Gilbert Gudjonsson, committed his 40-plus years of watch making experience to the enterprise. From the very outset he has served as chief watchmaker and the enviable father-son relationship at the company core has seen JS Watch co graciously leap every obstacle in its way. In hindsight, the company has achieved the seemingly impossible.
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“Looking back, my father was right to laugh," says Gilbertsson. "It was crazy to try and launch our own brand but the idea seemed flawless back in 2005. Iceland was rich. We were being touted as the next European banking hub. Everyone had lots of money so it seemed like the perfect time. It was still a gamble because there are only around 300,000 people in Iceland. We only made 100 watches to test the water. Within six months we had completely sold out.” Establishing any brand from scratch is seldom a venture destined for success, especially in the realm of luxury watch making. Most buyers will actively seek brand heritage. As a result it is often more successful to re-launch a dead company than it is to start a new one. In such cases the slew of marketing is designed to sell the resurrection of a deliberately dormant legacy. JS Watch co. Reykjavik bucked that trend by investing entirely in its products – beautiful, hand-assembled works of genuine haute horology. Classically styled, constructed from the finest materials and produced in strictly limited numbers every timepiece is a rare example of personal dedication to watch making perfection. The instant success of their first venture buoyed the fledgling company’s confidence. Flooded with wealth and moneyed foreign bankers it seemed that Iceland was a ripe marketplace for luxury products. To follow their first 100 watches, the company invested in a follow up collection, naturally titled 101. In 2006, however, Iceland’s currency started to collapse. HKGOLFER.COM
Northern Exposure: Fans of the Islandus Special Edition (opposite page) include the Dalai Lama and Quentin Taratino; the Frisland Goð (left) features a dial made from the same volcanic ash that brought European air travel to a halt in 2010; master watchmaker Gilbert Gudjonnsson at work HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Cool as Ice: Following the collapse of the Icelandic currency, JS Watch came roaring back with two new collections: the Islandus (top) and the Islandus Chronograph (bottom)
“For a small watchmaker trading in the world market, it was a serious problem," says Gilbertsson. "We had a lot of watches in production because the first collection had been so successful. Suddenly I was paying three times more for Swiss-made components because the Icelandic Kroner was now worthless. For a while, it really didn’t look good.” Ironically, Iceland’s financial failings couldn’t have been better for local businesses. As the big banks withdrew they were replaced by tourists desperate to experience the country's breathtaking beauty and take advantage of the weak currency. For JS Watch it was a golden opportunity. The appeal of their unrivalled product now included an unbeatable price for international visitors. “People had been desperate to come to Iceland but it was just too expensive," explains Gilbertsson. "Once they discovered their money would go a lot further the country became full of tourists. It has been great for business and not just in terms of sales. We not only take pride in our watches, but also our customer care. It’s
very important for us that the people who buy our timepieces know the level of perfection we try and achieve. Although we aim to get that message across on our international sales, nothing can beat talking to someone face to face and welcoming them into our workshop.” Today the firm has five collections and sells around 350 watches per year. Notable fans are as diverse as the Dali Lama and Quentin Tarantino. In fact, the brand’s reputation for durability and accuracy is so high that the company is now the official supplier of watches to the Icelandic Coast Guard. The offshore emergency service exclusively uses the Sif North Atlantic Rescue Timer which is water resistant to an astonishing depth of 1000m. To maintain such standards the brand remains dedicated to producing strictly limited edition examples of each watch each year. Ma ster watch ma ker, Gudjon sson , i s justifiably proud and says: “Even with 40 years experience, every so often you make a mistake. We put each of our watches through a two-week testing process before going on sale. It’s vital that we’re completely happy with every product; otherwise we wouldn’t have such a good name for ourselves. “It might be hard work, but it is a lot of fun creating your very own fine watches. From the sapphire crystal to the surgical steel used in our cases, we only use the very best suppliers. You won’t find anything better. Our movements are 26
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Probably the worldâ€™s smallest watch manufacturer
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Rescue Package: The Icelandic Coast Guard uses the brand's Sif North Atlantic Rescue Timer, which is water resistant to an astonishing depth of 1000m 28
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
a great example. It took us two years to negotiate a deal with ETA [the renowned Switzerlandbased movement supplier]. It was a difficult process to prove we were good enough for them to be directly associated with us. We’re the only company in Iceland, which gave us a unique selling point. Now we buy from them directly. That’s what you’ve got to do if you want to be the best.” JS Watch co’s current flagship timepiece is the Islandus Special Edition of which only 10 were made. Generously proportioned at 44mm this timepiece features a manually wound movement with a hand-engraved Icelandic Viking design. With Breguet blue steel hands, a sterling silver dial guilloched by hand and an ostrich skin
strap it represents the pinnacle of JS Watch co. Reykjavik’s aesthetic accomplishments to date. Sadly for potential buyers, the timepiece was snapped up quickly and there are no longer any available but, as an alternative, Gilbertsson recommends the Frisland Goð. This 42mm distinctive chronograph features a dial made from ash taken from the notoriously disruptive cloud that came from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano’s eruptions in 2010. In design terms, it captures the very real force of Icelandic nature and symbolises how just one small event can put the whole country onto the world map. The Frisland Goð itself is destined to follow in the same explosive footsteps by founding JS Watch co. Reykjavik as an internationally recognised boutique of watch making excellence. “People have really started to take note of what we do and we’ve come such a long way in just seven years," says Gilbertsson. "Naturally we want to grow, but it will be at slow place. Next year we’ll be releasing some timepieces in collaboration with some famous Icelandic artists and, in the future, hopefully we’ll be able to develop our own movement. We absolutely love what we’re doing. We’ve got complete control of the products we create and they’re already among the best in the world.” JS Watch Co. Reykjavik is represented in Hong Kong by Times International Creation. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 3590 4153 HKGOLFER.COM
Kiss Confidentiality Goodbye
Howard Bilton explains what is happening to offshore banking secrecy – and how it might affect you
nasty little employee of the one of the major Lichtenstein banks recently sold details of all their account holders to the German and UK tax authorities. Employees of various Swiss banks have done something similar. I imagine it’s very lucrative work. The US and the UK have persuaded the Swiss authorities to roll back their banking secrecy and allow details of account holders to be passed to them. The offshore financial centres (OFCs) have signed Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) with many onshore countries. Those OFCs controlled by any European Union country now automatically exchange details of accounts earning income with the home country of the account holder. So what is going on? What has happened to the right to privacy and banking secrecy? The onshore countries now have a legal means to obtain information about any offshore account or offshore trust or company structure. If they do not have a legal means then it seems they are quite prepared to purchase the information from a thief. What happened to reach this situation? In 1996 the OECD commissioned a report which was delivered in 1998 and listed all “tax havens” who engaged in “harmful tax competition”. The OECD threatened these tax havens (now called OFCs) with all sorts of nasty stuff because their low tax rates attracted investment away from the OECD member states. The implication was that anybody who had a tax rate lower than the OECD norm were being unfair. Boo hoo! Another source of irritation was that the OFCs wouldn’t reveal who was doing what in their jurisdiction. Many argued that nations shouldn’t be trying to dictate tax rates to others and in 2001 Paul O’Neil, the then US treasury secretary, put a big dent in the project by stating: “The United States does not support efforts to dictate to any country what its own tax rates or tax system should be, and will not participate in any initiative to harmonise world tax systems. The US simply has no interest in stifling the competition that forces governments – like businesses – to create efficiencies … The work … must be refocused on the core element that is our common goal: the need for countries to be able to obtain specific information from other countries upon request in order to prevent the illegal evasion of their tax laws by the dishonest few.” The illegal tax evasion he was referring to doesn’t take place offshore. There is nothing to stop someone setting up an offshore company or trust. That person may well have an obligation to report the existence of that company or trust on their home tax form and their home laws may well attribute the undistributed profits within that structure to them and trigger a tax charge. If so, a simple offshore structure will not achieve any tax advantage provided the correct reporting is made. The OECD’s main complaint was that some of their tax payers were “forgetting” to submit the required information on their tax forms. The secrecy found offshore encouraged them to think they could get away with this. Even now, some offshore practitioners still rather irresponsibly promote this idea of hide it and don’t declare. How will they find out is still a common question. Some suggest that you should keep all records hidden in a bank vault, not make phone calls to your offshore service provider and other such nonsense. It’s this type of stuff which gives offshore 30
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practitioners a bad name. What these numpties should be advising on is how to achieve the desired tax saving with a structure which legitimately and legally avoids or defer taxes onshore. It is nearly always possible. The OECD threatened sanctions against any jurisdiction which did not agree to sign up to an exchange of information programme. Hong Kong was left off of the list of tax havens – not because it didn’t correspond to the OECD’s definition, but probably because the OECD didn’t feel that it could bully China. Those funny little offshore islands were a different matter: they were easy to take down. All OFCs have now committed to signing TIEAs under which information about ownership of offshore structures could be exchanged on request. Quietly over the last few years Cayman, the British Virgin Islands and all the other recognised OFCs have signed TIEAs with most onshore countries. The OFCs haven’t exactly advertised they have been doing this but the TIEAs are there and in place. Next came the EU savings directive under which EU member states agreed that they would force banks within their jurisdictions, or jurisdictions under their control (so that included most OFCs) to automatically pass information back to the home tax authority of any other EU resident who banked within their borders and earned income on the account. Switzerland reluctantly signed up. The result is that many EU residents have switched their banking to Hong Kong or Singapore en masse and the private banks in both have flourished as a result. But how does this exchange of information work in practice? Anyone who has set up an offshore company or trust will be familiar with the amount of “due diligence” paperwork required by the service provider. As a matter of law the Corporate Service Provider (CSP) must confirm your identity, residential address, source of funds and fully understand the intended business of the structure. Normally that requires you to provide a certified copy of your passport, an original utility bill or HKGOLFER.COM
bank statement, documentation proving the source of funds injected into the structure and a detailed explanation of the business to be undertaken. Service companies can provide you with nominee shareholders and professional directors, trustees, dummy settlors or whatever but they must still correctly identify the beneficial owners of a company, the “client” and beneficiaries of any trust. This information must either be lodged with the offshore agent who forms the structure or under certain circumstances the Hong Kong firm can instead undertake to provide the information upon request. For example, if you instruct a Hong Kong firm to form a Cayman Island company (Cayco), they must obtain the due diligence and pass it to the Cayman firm or undertake to give it to them upon request. There is no way round this. The Cayman firm risks losing their licence if they fail to get the information or the undertaking. Now presume Cayco purchases a property in the UK which it later sells for a profit. If Cayco was owned by an UK domiciled tax resident the gain would normally be attributed to the owner and be taxable on him – even if he doesn’t receive the profit, so the UK Revenue may be very interested to know who owns Cayco. If any UK resident has been involved in the property purchase or sale by, for example, instructing estate agents, lawyers or arranging finance the UK can ask Cayman to confirm if that person owns Cayco. The “Competent Authority” in Cayman will ask the Cayman service provider if “Joe Sixpack” from the UK owns Cayco and they must tell. Cayman then tells the UK. If the owner happened to be an UK tax resident they would cross reference the gain made by Cayco to that individual’s UK tax return and ensure that he has correctly declared. If he hasn’t then they would investigate, audit, fine, imprison or generally be quite unpleasant to him. So that’s the way it is – or will be very shortly. There is no confidentiality offshore any more. If you have made arrangements offshore which you wouldn’t want revealed or wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny, think again and seek advice. Now Hong Kong is being asked to sign up for similar exchange of information. In Hong Kong’s case this would be achieved by relevant clauses in tax treaties. Various commentators have suggested that Hong Kong can a) increase its competitiveness by having a range of tax treaties and b) that we are losing business to Singapore which has 50 treaties whereas we only have five comprehensive ones. If a Hong Kong resident invests abroad then he is likely to be faced with withholding taxes, which could be eliminated or reduced by a treaty, but it is normally possible to obtain that same reduction by routing the investment via a suitable treaty jurisdiction. I can see little advantage to Hong Kong in negotiating further treaties apart from HKGOLFER.COM
Hong Kong was left off of the list of tax havens – not because it didn’t correspond to the OECD’s definition, but probably because the OECD didn’t feel that it could bully China. Those funny little offshore islands were a different matter: they were easy to take down. appeasing the OECD and G20 members who are putting increasing pressure on Hong Kong to accede to their desire for information. Do you need to worry about this? The answer is probably not if you live in Hong Kong and intend to stay here. It is unlikely that you are using offshore accounts to avoid or evade taxes as the profits on these accounts would not be taxable in Hong Kong. If, however, you are an expatriate and intend moving back home then this will all become very relevant and you had better make sure your planning is compliant and legal. Hoping your new home tax authority will not find out would be rash in the extreme. They can. They are doing so. Howard Bilton is a UK barrister, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego and chairman of the Sovereign Trust (Hong Kong) Ltd, which specialises in international and offshore tax planning
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HKGolfer HK Golfer・OCT 2011
pga tour 32
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Riches to Super Riches: Haas' play-off win over Hunter Mahan resulted in golf's biggest payday
Last Man Standing Bill Haas walked away from the Tour Championship US$11 million richer thanks to one of the most miraculous saves of the year
aas had one foot in the water and the other on dry land, his almost comical stance capturing his position perfectly as the Tour Championship reached a gripping conclusion on a muggy Sunday evening in late September. Haas was straddling a number of goals as he prepared to hit his third shot on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with Hunter Mahan. With a strong showing, Haas could potentially secure a wildcard pick on the United States team for the Presidents Cup in November. With a victory, he could end a year-long title drought and take home the US$10 million FedEx Cup bonus, although he said later that he wasn't 100 per cent sure of his position in those particular standings at that moment. "I was just trying to win the Tour Championship," he laughed. So much was resting on the outcome as Haas hit his half-submerged ball onto the 17th green and watched it stop less than three feet from the cup. He made the putt and went on to defeat Mahan with a par on the third extra hole. “I got very fortunate and pulled off a great shot,” said Haas, who closed with a two-under 68 for a 72-hole total of eight-under 272. Mahan, playing in the last group, carded a 71. "If I don't pull it off, I'm shaking Hunter's hand," Haas added.
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
FedEx Cup Playoffs Points Standings 1
Charles Howell III
He made another great shot, from the rough between the green on the par-three closer and the grandstand, to save par on the first extra hole. “That was equally good if not better than the one out of the water,” Haas, the son of Presidents Cup vice captain, Jay Haas, said. For most of the day, it appeared that the tournament winner would get the silverware but somebody else would take home the real prize, the FedEx Cup bonus. The leaders in the projected FedEx Cup standings were like candidates on election night, their fortunes changing as rapidly as results were posted on the leader board at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club.
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
At the beginning of the day, Mahan, the third-round co-leader with Aaron Baddeley, was the projected leader. He was supplanted by KJ Choi when the Korean chipped in for birdie on the fifth. Less than 20 minutes later, Mahan regained the lead when Choi overshot the green with his second shot on the par-four eighth, chipped short of the green and two putted for a double bogey. Such are the intricacies of the much maligned FedEx Cup Playoffs point system. “It’s one of those things where it’s like you can’t even worry about it, just because you can’t do the math that fast,” Mahan said. A few m i nutes later, Webb Si mpson leapfrogged over Mahan and Choi with his second consecutive birdie on the back nine. Simpson, who began the week atop the FedEx Cup standings, closed with a 73 to finish in 22nd place, yet remained in the running for the bonus until the end. Baddeley, who could deliver the mega-millions to Simpson with a victory, missed a long-range birdie attempt on the final hole that would have put him in the play-off. In the end, Simpson finished second in the FedEx Cup standings, directly ahead of Luke Donald, the world No. 1, who closed with a 69 to finish tied for third in the tournament. Donald himself could have bagged the riches for himself if he had finished in a tie for second. He failed to make it – by a shot. Simpson’s ragged week raises the question: should someone who beat only eight people at the season-ending championship be eligible to collect the season-ending bonus? Simpson, unsurprisingly enough, did not see why not. “I don’t think you can wipe all the points away from the first three events and start from scratch here,” he said. “I just don’t think that would accurately show who the best player in the playoffs is. I think what they do, handicapping everybody, is perfect.” It was a storybook ending for Haas, who dispatched some demons before dismissing Mahan. Haas was in contention during the final round the previous week, at the BMW Championship outside Chicago, before he shot a 42 on the back nine on his way to a 78 and a 16th-place tie. The nerves that were his undoing then paid Haas another visit down the stretch in the allimportant final round. He bogeyed two of his final three holes to lose his two-stroke lead. In the third and fourth rounds, Haas covered 17 and 18 in four over par but the holes were kinder to him in the play-off with Mahan. After curling in a 10ft putt for par on the 18th, the first extra hole, Haas hit his drive on 17 into the same fairway bunker he had found HKGOLFER.COM
All the President's Men Haas' FedEx Cup win proved to be bad news for Keegan Bradley, the winner of the US PGA Championship. A few days after the events at East Lake, Fred Couples, the United States' Presidents Cup captain, announced Haas and Tiger Woods as his wildcard picks, leaving Bradley, who also won the Byron Nelson Championship this year, out in the cold. "Congrats to bill haas / @tigerwoods. They deserve the picks. Although I am disappointed, I'm very happy to have been considered. GO USA," tweeted Bradley after hearing the news. With Couples confirming that Woods would be a wildcard some time ago, it was down to who his final pick would be. "It just felt like in this instance, Bill Haas played two years, never been outside the top 12 position [in the Presidents Cup rankings]," he said. "He's been inside the top 10 most of the time. And you know, if Keegan would have finished fourth or fifth last week and Bill would have lost to Hunter Mahan, the other assistants will tell you that Keegan would have been chosen." Couples' decision has drawn criticism from some quarters in the light of a woefully out of form Woods being his automatic first choice. But not all is lost for Bradley, however. With Steve Stricker continuing to struggle with a neck injury, the 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie would replace him on the trip to Australia if he's unable to recover in time.
less than an hour earlier. He pulled his second shot, which bounced on the green and rolled down the slope into the water fronting the left side of the putting surface. Haas was rather more solid when they returned once again to the home hole. He found the green with a 4-iron at 18, where Mahan’s tee shot ricocheted off a spectator into a greenside bunker. Mahan hit out to 15 feet and missed his par putt to open the door for Haas, who sank a four-footer for the win. “It looked like 12 feet,” said Haas, who had been playing for so much that some details escaped him. During the awards ceremony, there were two trophies, for the tournament winner and the FedEx Cup standings champion, but he was the only golfer. It all finally clicked for Haas. “That’s when I realised I had won it,” he said.
Nearly Men (clockwise from bottom): Luke Donald didn't win the FedEx Cup but still stands a chance of claiming the money titles on both sides of the Atlantic; Webb Simpson, the leader going into Atlanta, finished just 15 points behind Haas in second place in the standing; Haas' win was enough for Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples to offer him and not Bradley Keegan a wilcard HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Renaissance Man I
The way Thomas Bjorn has reacted to his remarkable run of form makes him an ideal candidate for the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy, writes Lewine Mair
t has often been said that any professional who takes on the chairmanship of the European Tour’s Tournament Players’ Committee will find that his game suffers. Thomas Born, who was given the role in 2007, could see it happening to him a couple of years ago and let it be known that he was thinking of demitting office. When it came to the bit, however, he did not quit – and there are many who suspect that the extra responsibilities he has since had to bear have helped rather than hindered. In fact, there was one wag who suggested that Bjorn’s extraordinary success this season – he has won three titles at the time of writing – will have had others angling for his post. When the 40-year-old Dane had his back-to-back wins across the end of August and the beginning of September, his low round of the fortnight came in the second week when he had a closing 62 to wrap things up at the Omega European Masters in the Swiss Alps. At a time when the leader board was bewilderingly cluttered at the top, he soared clear of his rivals, which included both Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy, with a run in which he was as many as five under par for his last five holes. However, it was the Sunday of the preceding Johnnie Walker Classic at Gleneagles which tells more about the man Bjorn has become. That was when he came out on top of what was a five-hole, five-way play-off against four younger rivals – Bernd Wiesberger, Pablo Larrazabal, Martin Foster and George Coetzee. The stage for that “sudden-death” play-off which, paradoxically, took an hour and three-quarters, was the 18th, an uphill par-five. On that gloomy Perthshire evening, it was playing every inch of its 533 yards. 36
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
At the start, Bjorn was relaxed about the situation, merely counting himself lucky that he was still in contention for the title. Foster, after all, had been three ahead with seven to play before running up a bogey via the trees at the 72nd. Again, there was an element of safety in numbers as the quintet teed up for a first time. “It was when it got down to two of us,” said Bjorn, “that it became really nerve-wracking. That was when you started to think, ‘I’ve done all the hard work … I really don’t want to lose at this stage.’” There was not a soul at Gleneagles who was not wrapped up in the mounting pressure. Bjorn, as he dug deeper and deeper, seemed to age with each passing hole. After a couple of pars had been enough to carry him through the first two lengths of the 18th, he moved into birdie mode. The first two of those two birdies were matched and it was the third of them, where he hit a seven-iron through the dying light to two feet, which won him the tournament as Coetzee, the last challenger, caught some cloying rough by the green. The moment Bjorn had done what he had to do, he was back to being 40 – and a young 40 at that. “You just have to keep going,” he said of the tension that had taken hold. “It was getting tougher and tougher and, if it had gone on much longer, it might almost have reached the HKGOLFER.COM
The Greatest Dane: Bjorn has had plenty to smile about during a brilliant 2011 season, which includes a win at the Qatar Masters (inset)
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
point where you struggled to take the club back. But I kept at it – and I don’t mind saying I’m proud of the way I played my last three holes.” It was Todd Hamilton, the former Open champion, who gave a very good insight as to how Bjorn had been able to outshine his up-andcoming adversaries over that extraordinary sixhour afternoon. “When you get to 40,” said the now 46-yearold Hamilton at Crans Montana the following week. “You’ve known every situation the game can throw at you. Nothing can surprise you as it might a younger player.” Bjorn, for his part, talked of how there had
come a moment earlier in the year when he had been struck by the realisation that he would not be on tour forever. “You want to make the most of the years you have left,” he said. Citing players like Miguel Angel Jimenez and Darren Clarke – two more in their 40s who are playing as well as they have ever done – he said, “You’ve just got to keep believing and, as long as you stay healthy, that’s the most important thing. I’ve had injuries and will go on getting them so I have to work harder than ever to keep my fitness intact.” Yet for many, the way in which Bjorn, who has leapt to No 27 in the world rankings,
Sunday Best: A stunning final round in the Swiss Alps earned Bjorn victory at the European Masters (main); although the memories of losing the 2003 Open to Ben Curtis (right) have not been forgotten
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
interacted with his playing companions over the play-off in Scotland was even more impressive than the guts and the golf. Across the years, this two-time Ryder Cupper has gone through as much pain on a golf course as anyone, most notably at Royal St George’s when he took three to escape the right-hand bunker at the 16th to gift the 2003 Open to Ben Curtis. Even as tactful a man as Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the R&A, referred to that hazard as “Bjorn’s Bunker” at the start of this summer. In 2004, Bjorn was still suffering and, when he walked off the course during that year’s
European Open, he admitted to being “assailed by demons.” Jos Vanstiphout, from the ranks of the golf psychologists, helped him to sort himself out mentally and when he returned to the winner’s circle at the British Masters just a year later, he talked through what he had learned from those dark times. Essentially, he had come to see that he had become too hard and too focused on himself. “You’ve got to be happy for others when they are successful,” he ventured. “The world doesn’t come to an end if I don’t win. Someone else wins and you have to be happy for them, because it’s good for the tour and the tour is bigger than the players.” That same philosophy has played no small part in his chairmanship of the TPC. He ke ep s a n e ye out for h i s fel low professionals. Oliver Fisher, when he won in Czechoslovakia, noted that Bjorn had loomed large among those senior players who had consistently offered words of encouragement as he missed 21 out of 22 cuts earlier in the season. Nick Dougherty was another to mention the Dane in a list of those who had supported him through the 22 missed cuts which prefixed his spectacular opening 63 at the European Masters. At Gleneagles, Bjorn’s courtesy over the five extra holes was all to do with the quiet concern he showed for each of Wiesberger, Larrazabal and Foster as they dropped out of the running. And then for Coetzee as he beat him on the last lap. HKGOLFER.COM
“You’ve just got to keep believing and, as long as you stay healthy, that’s the most important thing. I’ve had injuries and will go on getting them so I have to work harder than ever to keep my fitness intact.” HK Golfer・OCT 2011
“[Bjorn] epitomises that saying about fine wine. He’s got better and better. We’re lucky to have someone like him on tour.” – Mark Foster
World Beater: A natural team man, Bjorn's Ryder Cup record includes a fourballs win with Darren Clarke over Tiger Woods and Paul Azinger at the 2002 match at the Belfry 40
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Speaking the following week, Foster said that Bjorn’s words had meant everything on a night when he would otherwise have been at his wits’ end at the way he had lost a tournament he should so patently have won. “Thomas knew what it was to be in the position I’d been in and he knew precisely what was going through my head,” said Foster. “He could not have been more gracious in what he said to me. He told me I’d been playing well all year and that I should just keep playing the way I’d been playing. “When Thomas says something, he means it. What’s more, I know that he would have been just as gracious – in fact he would have been genuinely pleased for me – if I’d holed the putt I needed to win at the 72nd. That’s the kind of man he is.” Coetzee, for his part, said that Bjorn had made a point of congratulating him on the great come-back – a final-round 67 – which had lifted him into the play-off. Those five extra holes could have wider repercussions for Bjorn, particularly in terms of the Ryder Cup. The people of Scotland were looking to identify the right captain for the 2014 event, which will be held at Gleneagles for the first
time. Colin Montgomerie is still considered a possibility in that few can picture a scene in which this incorrigible soul, who lives round the corner from the famous resort, is not involved. Clarke more or less ruled himself out when, in the wake of his Open win, he reiterated that Gleneagles’ PGA Centenary Course is not the right venue. Which leaves us with Paul McGinley and Bjorn. McGinley has the requisite leadership qualities – he has skippered Great Britain & Ireland’s Seve Trophy side to two consecutive wins – but it would now come as little surprise if Bjorn’s is the name announced when the decision is made following the 2012 match at Medinah. Indeed, a film of that Sunday night at Gleneagles could serve as Bjorn’s resume, capturing as it did a player handling an extreme situation in the optimum way. What is more, if those doing the choosing were to need any references, they could call upon the four beaten men. “I don’t think Thomas would mind my saying this,” said Foster, “but he epitomises that saying about fine wine. He’s got better and better. We’re lucky to have someone like him on tour.” HKGOLFER.COM
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The Eagle Has Landed: Shinichi Mizuno holes a brilliant 50ft eagle putt at the 15th hole in the final round to give Hong Kong a chance of Putra Cup glory 42
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Oh So Close
Hong Kong, led by Shinichi Mizuno, came within a whisker of recording their first Putra Cup win in half a century in a thrilling final round at the Southeast Asia Team Championship Photography by Daniel Wong
ong Kong showed they have the talent to become a force in Asian golf, despite a heartbreaking loss to Singapore in the HK Golfer-sponsored Southeast Asia Team Championship at Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club in early September. A first Putra Cup victory in 50 years slipped out of Hong Kong's hands in the final few holes, allowing Singapore to fight back and claim the championship by five shots. Nevertheless, Hong Kong, who were hosting the event for the first time since 2002, still recorded their finest result in a team competition in a generation. "It wasn't that long ago Hong Kong were considered the whipping boys of Asian golf and were always finishing last in tournaments like the Putra Cup," national coach Brad Schadewitz said at the end of an absorbing day's play. "Not winning today is disappointing – we had a great chance – but we've made very good progress in recent times, there's no question about that. We're certainly heading in the right direction." Trailing Singapore by two shots heading into the final day, Hong Kong fared better than their city state rivals in the early stages, with Shinichi Mizuno reaching the turn in an impressive three-under-par to help give his team the lead.
51st Putra Cup Individual Standings 1 2 3= 5 6 7=
Choo Tsz-huang Shinichi Mizuno George Gandranata Jason Hak Suprapto Jerome Ng Gregory Foo Zanie Gialon M Abdul Majid Natipong Srithong
SIN HKG INA HKG INA SIN SIN PHL MAS THA
72 71 67 71 73 71 71 68 69 71 72 72 71 65 73 75 72 71 70 72 76 69 69 73 72 76 68 72 72 71 74 71 70 72 72 74 73 69 73 73
281 283 284 284 285 287 288 288 288 288
Flying the Flag: The winning Singaporean team (top) lower their colours at the closing ceremony; Hong Kong's Jason Hak (bottom) shot a course record-tying 65 in the second round, the low round of the week HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Clearwater Contenders: Singapore's Choo Tszhuang (top left) won the individual tournament by two shots from Mizuno; Liu Lok-tin receives a supporting nudge from fellow Hong Kong international Tiffany Chan during the final round 44
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
But with Mizuno's teammates – Jason Hak, Liu Lok-tin and Terrence Ng – struggling to find their form in the breezy conditions, Singapore upped their game thanks to the experienced Choo Tsz-huang and were able to draw level with six holes remaining. Mizuno, 17, fought Hong Kong's cause almost singlehandedly. The reigning Hong Kong Close champion reached six-under for his round after an eagle at the 15th, where he holed an incredible 50ft putt, and was within sight of not only team and individual glory but also a new course record. However, an errant drive at the 17th, followed by a three-putt from 20 feet, led to a double bogey, a score he replicated on the home hole after finding the hazard off the tee. Mizuno signed for a 68 and had to settle for second place in the individual competition, two strokes shy of Choo's winning total of 281. Singapore, who last claimed t he championship in 2008, finished on a fourday total of 846, five ahead of Hong Kong. Indonesia, with 860, finished third. Hong Kong have claimed the Putra Cup only once before – at the inaugural championship in 1961, when they romped to a 33-stroke win at the Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur.
It was terrible luck for Nagoya-born Mizuno, a product of the Hong Kong Golf Association's junior development programme, who was crestfallen. But Schadewitz said it was Hong Kong's failure to post three solid rounds on the final day, rather than Mizuno's late fall, which cost them. Hak, who had been magnificent on the second day when he fired a course recordtying 65, battled back after an horrific start for a 75 in the final round, while Liu, who had a brilliant 67 on day three, could only manage a 76. Terrence Ng, Hong Kong's most consistent player over the first three rounds, faded to a 79. " It 's ha rd to ta ke," Schadew it z sa id. "Singapore were able to shoot three good scores today, which we didn't manage to do – and for it to come down to the final two holes shows how close it really was. "I'm really proud of Shinichi. He had something really great going and it was gutwrenching to see what happened. But he'll be back. He's proved what a great player he's become." Although Thailand f inished down the standings in the main event, they claimed both the under-18 boys' Lion City Cup and the ladies' Santi Cup, which were held concurrently with the Putra Cup. HKGOLFER.COM
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Hong Kong Heroes: The Putra Cup team flanked by Dr Ryan Li, chairman of Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club, and David Hui, president of the HKGA
51st Putra Cup Team Standings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Singapore Hong Kong Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Philippines Myanmar
846 851 860 862 880 883 885
5th Lion City Cup Team Standings 1 2 3 4 5 6
Thailand Malaysia Indonesia Philippines Singapore Hong Kong
869 873 888 901 904 937
3rd Santi Cup Team Standings 1 2 3 4 5 6
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Thailand Philippines Malaysia Hong Kong Singapore Indonesia
852 853 877 880 883 916
Agojo Ends Title Drought Philippine star finishes strong to win her first individual title of the year at the Hong Kong Ladies Open Amateur Championship
ayvie Agojo claimed her first Helene et Henri Hong Kong Ladies Open Amateur Championship at Fanling mid September, overcoming compatriot – and pre-tournament favourite – Dottie Ardina with an accomplished display in the final round. Agojo, a graduate of Pepperdine University who qualified for this year’s US Women’s Amateur Open, fired a solid one under-par round of 71 over the Old Course for a three-day total of 215 and a three-shot win. Taiwan’s Peng Chieh (218) earned her second runner-up finish at the event in as many years, with another Filipina, Lovelyn Guioguio, finishing third, a further three shots adrift.
Ardina, one of the world’s most highly-rated juniors and a former winner of this event, had a day to forget, however. Starting the round just one behind Agojo, the David Leadbetter Golf Academy student who is based in Florida slumped to a disappointing 77 to place fourth. "It feels great to win again," said Agojo, a three-time winner of the Philippines Sports Writers' Association's "Outstanding Women's Golfer of the Year" award. "I just kept my focus throughout and got some breaks with those long birdies." Agojo, 25, holed a 40ft birdie putt on the 13th to increase her lead and essentially wrapped things up at the 16th, where she rolled in a 20-footer, also for birdie. It was her first individual tournament win of 2011, although she did claim the New Zealand Foursomes in harness with teammate Sarah Ababa earlier in the year. Agojo also won the Mid Amateur title, which was played in conjunction with the Open championship. Tiffany Chan and Kitty Tam, who tied for fifth spot on a total of 223, were Hong Kong's best performers, while Stephanie Ho, playing in her first tournament of the year, showed little sign of rust as she recorded a solid top 10. Ho, who has had to put golf on the backburner due to show business commitments following her successful appearance on TVB's singing programme, The Voice, started brightly with a 72 before fading slightly over the closing rounds.
Star Showing: Jayvie Agojo
Ladies Open Standings
1 2 3 4 5= 7 8 9=
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Jayvie Agojo PHL Peng Chieh TWN Lovelyn Guioguio PHL Dottie Ardina PHL Tiffany Chan HKG Kitty Tam HKG Pavarisa Yoktuan THA Pinrath Loom'ruang THA Hathaikarn Wong'phaisal THA Stephanie Ho HKG
74 70 71 70 76 72 77 74 70 70 75 77 75 74 74 72 76 75 77 72 75 75 75 76 75 76 79 72 78 80
215 218 221 222 223 223 224 226 230 230
Dottie Ardina HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Maroon and Gold: Tiffany has worn her new colours with pride at recent tournaments
The Next Stage
Having secured a golf scholarship to the prestigious Arizona State University, former junior standout Tiffany Chan talks about an exciting new phase in her amateur career
nwavering determination and one heck of a golf game – these are just two of Tiffany Chan's many attributes. But having dominated the local golfing scene over the past few years she is now ready to take her game overseas. Chan, 18, recently received word from Arizona State University that they wanted her to be a part of their "Sun Devils" golf team. Chan accepted their offer – and for those who know their college golf, her decision makes enormous sense. 50
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Alumni from ASU include Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey, Billy Mayfair, Grace Park and Anna Nordqvist, and the college has a track record to match the names of their illustrious former students. The women's golf team has won the NCAA Championship a staggering 13 times; they have had nine individual national champions, 70 All-Americans, eight LPGA major winners HKGOLFER.COM
and have claimed 78 team championships since 1982. Needless to say, ASU is considered among the premier golf colleges in the world. This is what Chan, who will be teeing it up in the college's famous maroon and gold from August next year, had to say about what is undoubtedly going to be a very special time of her life: I was so excited and happy that I performed well at the Callaway Junior World Championships this summer. I knew it was my last chance to really impress college coaches, and it was really important to me. I talked to ASU coach, Melissa Luellen, right after my round and it was then when she offered me the chance to be a Sun Devil. I gave her a call a few days later to accept. It has been my dream to play college golf, and it has come true. I could not be happier. The process of gaining a college scholarship can be confusing, nerve wracking and exciting – all at the same time. I just tried to show all of the coaches my best whenever I had the opportunity. I have been in contact with ASU for almost a year prior to their offer, so we were constantly emailing each other. They had told me that they were looking forward to seeing me compete in the Junior World, so I knew that would be my big chance to make my collegiate golf dreams come true. Brad [Schadewitz, the national coach] really helped me a lot in communicating with the coaches. I know that it would not have been possible without him. ASU is a traditional golf school and very well known. The fact that so many successful golfers have come from ASU is a testament to their team and to the programme they have in place. They even have their own golf course! This will make it much easier for me to practice, improve, and pursue my dream. As everyone knows, practice facilities, especially ones with real grass are hard to come by in Hong Kong. I’ve been dreaming about going to the US to play college golf since I was 14, which was the first year the HKGA junior squad went on their summer tour. That year I came in fourth at the Junior World Championship, and I really started to think that I could do it. But I never actually thought that my dream would come true. A few days before this year's Junior World, I was talking to Brad and I asked him why ASU wanted me on their team. Brad laughed and said, "why not?" It just seems so unreal to me, but I am really looking forward to representing Hong Kong in Arizona. A SU 's of fer ha s rea l ly i ncrea sed my confidence. I do not believe in success without hard work; the harder you work, the more successful you will be. I will make sure to work my absolute hardest so that I will not let down HKGOLFER.COM
my family, Brad and all the HKGA staff, as well as my teammates who have supported me over the years. This is a really big step towards my ultimate goal of playing on the LPGA Tour. At ASU I hope to win an NCAA team championship and to really improve my game. I will be practicing every day with the team, in addition to working out three times per week. It will be a very busy schedule, but I know that it is necessary if we are going to be successful. I’m not entirely sure what I will study at ASU – I’m still deciding – but most likely it will be something to do with business. I know that golf seems so boring to a lot of people, but obviously I don't agree with that! Golf has changed my life in so many ways; the way I approach and solve problems, the way I treat people, the way I work with others, my manners, and my positive outlook on life. I still remember the first time I played on a real golf course. I shot 138. Back then I would never have thought that in just 10 years I would be on the team of such an elite golfing school as ASU. Time has just flown by. I can also clearly remember the first junior tournament I played in. It was the 2002 Junior Close at Clearwater Bay, where I ended up finishing in fourth. Just a few weeks ago I finished my last junior event there, the Junior Open. I didn’t play my best, but I really enjoyed the tournament. It is just so surreal to think that I am basically done with my junior golf career. Although this chapter of my life may be closing, I am extremely excited about the next four years playing golf as a Sun Devil. I will work extremely hard to make everyone who has supported me proud, and I plan on representing Hong Kong in any tournament that I can. It is always an honour to wear the Hong Kong shirt in competition – once a team member, always a team member! That will never change. –As told to David Cunningham III
"It is always an honour to wear the Hong Kong shirt in competition – once a team member, always a team member! That will never change."
Sporting School – Arizona State University Located in the metropolitan area of downtown Phoenix, Arizona State University is the largest university in the United States by enrollment. It is currently made up of just over 70,000 students that reside on 6.2 square kilometers of total campus space. The university offers a variety of programs to its students, including engineering, journalism, business, and law. ASU is a Division One school and is a member of the Pacific-12 Conference. It is one of the most respected universities athletically in the United States. The school has won 23 NCAA National Championships, nine of which have been in golf. The athletic facilities at ASU match its impressive championship record. The Karsten Golf Course – named after Karsten Solheim, the founder of equipment company PING, who largely funded the project – is ASU’s own and lies in the shadow of the famous 74,000-seat Sun Devil stadium, where the college's American football teams plays. The course is a links-style layout designed by Pete Dye and will provide the perfect place for Tiffany and her teammates to hone their skills in the years ahead.—DC III
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
The Quiet Italian
A year ago Francesco Molinari put the seal on a remarkable 12 months with one of the most sensational tournament displays ever seen in Asian golf, when he and Lee Westwood finished streets ahead of a worldclass field at the WGCHSBC Champions, reports Tim Maitland PHOTOGRAPHY BY AFP/GETTY IMAGES
h en Francesco “Chicco” Molinari br ie f ly ra i se d h i s hands in the air and gazed momentarily up at the cheering Shanghai crowds in the grandstand at Sheshan last year, you would have had little clue from his body language that he had just gone eyeball to eyeball with the hottest player on the planet and won. Even now, when he looks back at the best performance, the biggest victory, the most spectacular year of his career and a season 52
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unparalleled in the history of Italian golf, his voice – a deep baritone – rumbles along at exactly the same steady, careful, unflustered pace. “It was very, very good. It was probably the best golf I’ve played. When you’re playing against the number one in the world it doesn’t get any tougher than that, especially the way he was playing," the 28-year-old explains, his tone showing no hint of the kind of excitement of someone describing the day and the week where he delivered a performance that he had strived for most of his life. "It was just great for my confidence and my self-belief to see that I could compete against the best in the world.” HKGOLFER.COM
There’s no hint of exhilaration when he considers the culmination of a remarkable 12 months in his life. It started when he won the Omega Mission Hills World Cup for Italy with his older brother Edoardo in Shenzhen and continued when he twice played alongside Edoardo in the final round as the latter won his first European Tour events in Scotland. If that wasn’t enough the brothers, who were born a little under two years apart, paired up again to help Europe win the Ryder Cup and, circling the globe, Francesco returned to China to claim the biggest prize of his career taking his season earnings to just under €3 million.
Shanghai Swinger: Molinari's win at Sheshan in 2010 (left) was his biggest on tour to date HK Golfer・OCT 2011
China Champion: Molinari clearly enjoys the Middle Kingdom; as well as bagging the WGC-HSBC Champions (top) the Italian scooped the World Cup at Mission Hills with brother Edoardo in 2009 54
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The vanquished in this case is far more effusive than the victor. “Last year’s event was great! Myself and Francesco ran away from the field! We played a different golf course that week!” exclaims Westwood, who was starting his first of what would be 22 weeks at number one. “It was pretty much flawless golf,” Molinari muses modestly. As the quiet champion, Molinari is perhaps destined to be filed in the same place that the 2006 Shanghai winner Yang Yong-Eun occupied until he became Asia’s first male major champion and his 2009 PGA Championship victory cast his previous achievements in a new light. Both are symbolic of the arrival of relatively new golfing nations to the sport’s top table and, at the times of their win, neither
golfer had the same superstar status as some of the other names on the HSBC Champions roll of honour like Phil Mickelson (2007 and 2009) or Sergio Garcia (2008). They have one other thing in common: to win both produced a performance so perfect that they remain a regular reference point. “I try to revive the feeling I had that week. I played with such poise. It was my perfect tournament,” Yang said the week before he enshrined himself as a legend of Asian golf. Molinari’s emotions are exactly the same. “Definitely! What is left for me from that week are the feelings that I had on the golf course; being competitive, being really in the moment and just the attitude I had on the golf course, rather than the game itself,” he says. It’s hard enough to believe Francesco would HKGOLFER.COM
need such a reference point, so unchanging is his demeanour: even people close to his family say that while brother Edoardo rides a more typically Italian emotional rollercoaster, Francesco never deviates. What’s almost impossible to believe is his claim that, as a child, learning the game in Turin, his dentist-father frequently banned him for ‘throwing the toys out of the pram’. “I used to throw clubs as a kid and swear and if my Dad saw me from other holes throwing clubs he wouldn’t let me play for a couple of weeks. That was the punishment for not behaving on the golf course,” Francesco explains. “I think I was lucky to learn the lesson as a kid. When you turn professional you try really hard think about what you’re doing and not about what happened or what is going to happen. I think that’s what I did really well in Shanghai.” Patience has proved a virtue in other ways too. At the insistence of their parents, both Edoardo and Francesco had to complete degrees at the University of Torino (Edoardo studying Engineering and Francesco choosing Business) before starting their golf careers. Although the younger Molinari initially singles out improving year-on-year rather than
“I used to throw clubs as a kid and swear and if my Dad saw me from other holes throwing clubs he wouldn’t let me play for a couple of weeks. That was the punishment for not behaving on the golf course.” his victories, there have been plenty of highlights in his professional life. “The World Cup and the Ryder Cup were two of the biggest moments in my career. The win in Shenzhen was great, playing against Rory [McIlroy] and G-Mac [Graeme McDowell] in the last round and winning by one shot at the 18th is always something special. Being the first World Cup success for Italy alongside my brother Edoardo was just something really unbelievable. “ T he Ryder C up i s a n u nb el ievable experience; different from any other emotion you can feel on the golf course. The first morning we were not even playing and when we went to the tee they started chanting “There’s only two Molinaris” and it was just a lot of fun. I thought it was one of the best chants of the
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week. It’s a lot of tension and a lot of pressure but at the same time it’s also a lot of fun because you don’t play for money, you don’t play for world ranking points … you just play for winning and the team.” As for the steady improvement, Molinari admits that the law of diminishing returns applies as you get into the jet set of tour society. This year he has strived for a little more distance and in the process lost some of the pinpoint accuracy. That’s not the only change. This year Molinari has played fewer events to make room for the majors and other WGC tournaments that his HSBC Champions win has allowed him to add to the cream of the European Tour’s events. The results haven’t been bad – top 10s in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, Volvo World Match Play Championship and the BMW Italian
“The Ryder Cup is an unbelievable experience; different from any other emotion you can feel on the golf course ... It’s a lot of tension and a lot of pressure but at the same time it’s also a lot of fun because you don’t play for money, you don’t play for world ranking points … you just play for winning and the team.”
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
Open and, the highlight, a third place finish at the WGC-Cadillac Championship – but they haven’t been as consistent as previous seasons. The other big adjustment has been the arrival of his first child, a son Tommaso, who was born in February. “Life changes after a baby. You have to adapt to the new condition of being a parent, but it’s fun. As soon as he smiles you forget about anything that happened – good or bad – on the golf course. It gives you a different perspective,” Molinari reveals. So, Molinari returns to the HSBC Champions not quite on the crest of the wave that swept him to the biggest win of his career, but looking forward to defending his title on what he describes as “a phenomenal” 18 holes of golf. “It’s going to be different. We won the World Cup in China and now I’ve won in Shanghai; obviously I really like playing in China! It’s going to be fun to be back there another year. The HSBC Champions was just the climax of a fantastic year for me. I’m really looking forward to going back there this year and try and do the same,” he says. How he’ll be received will be interesting. Perhaps like “YE” Yang Yong-Eun it will only be a major championship that will make a nation relatively new to the sport re-evaluate the nearperfection he displayed last year.
Keeping it in the Family: Francesco teamed up with Edoardo in the fourballs at the 2010 Ryder Cup, earning a crucial half point in their match against Stewart Cink and Matt Kuchar
If Francesco Molinari doesn’t get the recognition from the golfing public, the player he vanquished believes the Italian certainly has got it from his peers; the people that matter most. “I think he did by all the players – that’s who you want recognition from,” Westwood says. “He played very nicely.” It’s a comment that sums up Francesco Molinari perfectly; simply because it is so understated. HKGOLFER.COM
The Francesco File BORN: TURNED PRO: PROFESSIONAL WINS: TEAM APPEARANCES: OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS: WORLD RANKING:
November 8, 1982 2004 2 - WGC-HSBC Champions (2010), Omega Mission Hills World Cup (2010), Telecom Italian Open (2006) Ryder Cup (2010) Finished in fifth place on the European Tour's Race to Dubai in 2010 24
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
GOLF TRAVEL A Player’s Guide
Tropical Treat: The demanding par-four 16th hole at Bali Golf & Country Club, a Nelson & Haworth design 58
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Eat, Play, Love Craig Morrison travels to Bali, the Island of the Gods, where golf has firmly taken root
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
etween Java and Lombok the Indonesian island of Bali is enchanted and beautiful. It doesn’t teem with golf courses, but there are four layouts here that anyone would want to play. Tourism is the island’s main industry. Terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005 briefly kept holidaymakers away, but they have now returned in numbers, increased numbers in fact. There are almost three million annual visitors and the actual population is not much more than that. Consequently, the infrastructure is stretched, the roads endlessly busy. But work goes on apace (or as speedily as it might on tranquil Bali) in preparation for the APEC summit in 2013 for which the island’s communications will be much improved. Away from any traffic problems Bali is a place of harmony and relaxation. It was the setting for last year’s Julia Roberts’ movie Eat, Pray, Love and the effects of its starring role can be felt in countless new yoga and spiritual retreats all over the island. Bali of course is famous for its sacred rituals, devout rites and ceremonies. Every home has its own shrine. Every town has numerous temples. Offerings to the gods are made daily and can be seen everywhere. Flowers literally
litter the streets. And the incense can be thick, the atmosphere heady. Yet Bali is very much of the world too. Upscale hotels and resorts abound, from Banyan Tree and Bulgari to the newly-opened W Retreat & Spa. And while fabulous food might be found cheaply in local restaurants, one can pay top dollar (or Indonesian Rupiah) to eat in style at the new chic restaurants which have recently appeared and which make Bali, when considered with its existing cuisine, something of a foodie’s favourite. Golf, while not exactly exorbitant, sets one back on average US$150 per round. But most will have few complaints. The courses are all excellent and each one is quite distinctive and memorable. Carts are pretty much compulsory and compulsory caddies are almost always female – and almost all are pretty. In fact, the only male caddies I met were playing their monthly gratis game at Bali Golf & Country Club. I joined them for the back nine. Unbelievably they played off handicaps of two, three and four and were lovely knowledgeable guys, very gracious in their resounding victory. Like almost all Balinese, the caddies cannot do enough for you and you will find yourself tipping more than you can afford. It’s a good feeling.
Courtesy of Nirwana Bali Golf Club
Bali High: The parthree seventh at Nirwana Bali, with the famous Tanah Lot temple hovering just off the coast, is surely the most photographed hole on the island
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
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WHERE TO PLAY NIRWANA BALI HHHH
Tom Breazeale (New Kuta x 2)
Picture Perfect (clockwise from top): New Kuta, the newest of Bali's four courses, occupies a stunning setting on the south coast; thee tee shot at the par-three fourth at Bali Golf & Country Club needs to avoid tiered rice paddy fields, unique examples of golf course landscaping 62
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The Great White Shark created this course on the island’s west coast where Hammerheads are not as rare as the many surfers might hope. In parts – its most memorable parts – it’s a clifftop course to rival any on the Monterey Peninsula. But this is far from California. The temple at Tanah Lot, perhaps the most spectacular on the island, is in full view here and the course plays through rice fields. It could only be beautiful Bali. The sevent h hole, a par t hree which plays scenically close to the temple, could be considered sacrilege, unless you take the view of many golfers, that the game can be a religious experience. The islanders might choose to spend a high percentage of their income on religious festivals and ceremonies, but the golfer who chooses to spend some time and money here will feel genuinely elevated. Visually, it is a masterpiece; golf-wise it is a masterpiece too, revealing its setting to best effect on every hole. Its design is primarily heroic, which is to say that many shots are do-ordie. Elsewhere that sometime lack of choices can be a weakness. But here it is just right: the shots offer sufficient hope and the golfer can only be fortified and emboldened by the surroundings. This Greg Norman course opened for play in 1997 and is still stupendous today.
Nirwana Bali Golf Club Yardage: 6,805 Par: 72 Designed by Greg Norman Contact: nirwanabaligolf.com
BALI GOLF HHHH
This is a great, great course and rumour has it that the new Indonesian owners plan improvements in an attempt to make it – once again – the island’s very best. The hilly front nine plays parkland style through the Nusa Dua estate, the securitychecked resort which is home to some of Bali’s very best hotels. The back nine, still within Nusa Dua, meanders through massive coconut groves (amongst huge almost endless white sand bunkers and lakes teeming with large Alu lizards) down to the Amanusa Beach Club – one of the swankiest most eye-popping anywhere – before turning back again to the fabulous clubhouse. The signature hole is the ninth which requires a muscular downhill drive to set up as short a strike as possible over a lovely but sizeable and looming lake. My favourites though were earlier in the floral front half, the third and fourth being a long two-shotter and a short singleshotter over tiered paddy fields: unique examples of golf course landscaping. The club has a small number of villas which look entirely amazing, luxurious beyond belief. HKGOLFER.COM
Guests enjoy their own dedicated staff and private pool as well as use of the Amanusa Beach Club. Bali Golf & Country Club Yardage: 6,888 Par: 72 Designed by Nelson & Haworth Contact: baligolfandcountryclub.com
NEW KUTA HHHH
Despite its claims of common ground with links golf (and it does have deep bunkers, rolling fairways and sloping greens), New Kuta is very much the clifftop course and all the better for it. In fact, it’s astonishingly good. It opened just three years ago and has picked up a slew of awards. Out on 14, 15 and 16 – the most precarious of the holes – there’s nothing between the golfer and the cliff’s edge. Indian Ocean waves crash onto Dreamland Beach beneath you, the fairways vibrating such is their force. It is pretty elemental here: man against nature. Fear has ruined many scores at this stage of the round. The scenery has no doubt ruined scores too. The beaches and the ocean views are amongst the most spectacular to be had. New Kuta is a tough test. The greens run fast and the aforementioned deep traps are not for the less than skilled bunker player. But being on holiday one should forget the score and live a little. The golf on offer here is exhilarating in the extreme.
Australians account for many of the visitors to Bali and Australia’s two greatest golfers designed 50 per cent of the courses here. This one, the oldest on the island, Bali Handara, was designed by Peter Thomson, a five time Open champion and by definition one of the world’s greatest links players. Yet Bali Handara couldn’t be further removed from the links game having more in common with jungles than sandy seasides. It is built in a volcanic crater more than 1,000 metres above sea level and the grasses are deep green and lush, the trees numerous and often towering. The mountains are magnificent and the course is special too. It’s perhaps the
Robin Moyer (Bali Golf & Country Club)
New Kuta Golf Yardage: 7,500 Par: 72 Designed by Golfplan Contact: newkutagolf.com
BALI HANDARA HHH
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
gentlest of the layouts on the island, but it has class. The stylish par -fives at the end of the outward and inward halves stand out. They promised me birdies but delivered much more ... The routing is clever. The golfer plays up, down and across in all directions, feeling the wind in its many guises. Warm breezes blow across the entire island and everyone , it seems, flies kites. Here in Bedugul though the winds are noticeably cooler, making it a great altitude escape for those who have been sweltering in the busier tourist traps on the coast. The mornings can be misty, the nights chilly. The on-site accommodation is a jot dated. But the course – though maybe less exciting than others on the island – is timeless. Anyone who can should visit. Bali Handara is a special place. Bali Handara Kosaido Country Club Yardage: 7,024 Par: 72 Designed by Peter Thomson Contact: balihandarakosaido.com
NEED TO KNOW
Like most places in t he tropics, Bali experiences two seasons: wet (September through February) and dry (March through August), but the difference is marginal, with the
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
former characterised by short, sharp downpours in the afternoon. The rest of the time is generally very warm, although the sea breezes and lower humidity of the summer months make this a prime time for golf. Cathay Pacific and Garuda, Indonesia's much revamped national carrier, fly direct from Hong Kong to Denpasar, Bali's international gateway, daily (travel time: four hours, 45 minutes). Those travelling on Hong Kong SA R passports do not require a visa for entry into Indonesia; those travelling on most other passports – including Australian, British, Canadian and the United States – are required to pay a 30-day visa-on-arrival fee of US$25. Craig Morrison is the author of recently released 18 Greatest Irish Golf Holes which Forbes Magazine has called ‘an instant collectable’. Visit 18greatestgolf.com. “This might be stretching it, not least considering climatic differences, but a golfing trip to Bali has something in common with a golfing trip made to Ireland," says Morrison. "The Balinese people – basically Indonesia’s Hindu minority – are charming, warm and hospitable. Terrorism is, we all trust, a thing of the past. The atmosphere is singular. The coastal golf is superb.”
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Teenager Thompson Makes LPGA History Sixteen-year-old prodigy shatters age record
2011 Navistar LPGA Classic Standings Lexi Thompson Tiffany Joh Angela Stanford Brittany Lang Karen Stupples Stacy Lewis Meena Lee Morgan Pressel Jenny Shin Jennifer Johnson
66 68 67 70 68 75 65 68 73 69 69 66 71 68 72 67 72 68 68 70 68 68 73 70 73 64 69 73 69 71 73 67 70 70 72 68 65 73 71 71
1 2 3 4= 6= 8= 66
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271 276 277 278 278 279 279 280 280 280
US$195,000 US$120,057 US$87,093 US$60,800 US$60,800 US$40,753 US$40,753 US$29,469 US$29,469 US$29,459
American Lexi Thompson became the youngest champion in the LPGA's 61-year history, the 16-yearold prodigy firing a two-under par 70 in the final round to capture the Navistar Classic by five strokes in mid September. Thompson, who was seven months and eight days beyond her 16th birthday on the day of her victory, finished 72 holes on 17-under par 271 at the $1.3 million event to defeat compatriot Tiffany Joh by five shots and Angela Stanford by six. "I knew I was going for the record but I was focusing on the golf course and doing my best," Thompson said. "I was nervous on the first tee but I had a lot of fun out here." American Marlene Hagge won the 18-hole Sarasota Open in 1952 just two weeks past her 18th birthday to become what had been the youngest LPGA champion. Paula Creamer, another American, was nine months and 17 days past her 18th birthday when she won the 2005 Sybase Classic to become the youngest winner of a typical multi-round event until Thompson's triumph. Thompson, who turned pro in June of last year, birdied the par-three second and suddenly only playing partner Meena Lee of South Korea was within eight strokes of the lead, and Lee was six adrift. A birdie at the par-five eighth gave Thompson a personal-record 20th birdie of the week. Lee birdied the ninth to stay within six but began the back nine with a bogey to leave Thompson seven clear of the field at 17-under. Thompson, who made only three bogeys in the first three rounds, stumbled with back-to-back bogeys at 11 and 12, missing six-foot par putts on both holes as her lead shrank to five shots with six holes to play. Lee birdied the par-three 13th to move within four shots but faded as Joh charged into contention with a run of four birdies in a row through the 15th to pull within three of Thompson, including a chip-in at 14. "She got on a roll, chipped in, got a birdie â€“ she could have birdied all the way in," Thompson said. "I was just focusing on my own game." Thompson had led after 54 holes earlier this year at Mobile, Alabama, and squandered the lead with a lastround nightmare to finish in a share of 19th. But Thompson made it clear that another collapse was not in the offing this time. After Joh had a short birdie miss at the 16th, Thompson tapped-in for a birdie and sank another from 20 feet at the penultimate hole. "I was just trying to make good shots and smart plays," Thompson said. "Coming up the 18th it was like all the pressure was let off. I could wave at the fans." Second-placed Joh said: "If I can say I was a speed bump on her run to history that was good enough for me." HKGOLFER.COM
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year. He did a bad thing and he knows it. But it will take time [for him to get back to his best]. He's a very nice guy – I like him a lot – but I think there is nobody better. He needs time. Once he's recovered from his injury he'll be great again. Definitely. HKG: You've been injured recently too. How's the back? TJ: It's better. I had a nerve problem in my back and I had to change my swing a little bit because of that, but I feel OK. Once it recovers fully – I'm probably around 90 per cent at the moment – I will be better. I'm now outside the top 100 in the world rankings, but that's OK. I'm enjoying my life. I'm 42 this year, so that's alright. But I will be better next year.
"Being in the Army was tough. Really tough. But it has definitely helped me as a player. I'm able to control my feelings. I can control myself" CONTINUED FROM PAGE 70
HKG: [a little peeved] Monty's a terror, isn't he? Difficult to play with? TJ: [laughs]. I've played with him a lot – we used to get paired together all the time, especially in Asia when he was number one in Europe. But no, I really enjoy playing with him. He's a great guy. He hits it so straight it's crazy. But I like playing with Monty. I learned a lot just watching him play, even though I was longer. But that's not as important in golf as accuracy. He was definitely the best at that. HKG: But is Monty the best ever? You've played with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood ... TJ: They're all brilliant players. Rory is so young and such a great player ... he's so long, too. Westwood is very solid. Like Monty he doesn't make many mistakes, but he's longer and just as impressive. Tiger ... well, I realised how good Tiger was when I played with him years ago. And I've played with him a few times since then as well. The way he hits the ball – the distance, even with his three-wood, is amazing. But he's also a great putter. The first time I played with him I really couldn't believe it. Everything about his game is perfect. It has to be Tiger.
HKG: Can Tiger be as good as he was again? He's half Thai, so maybe he is less guarded with you than others? TJ: I think Tiger will win everything next 68
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
HKG: How would you compare playing on the European Tour to the Asian Tour? TJ: The tours are ver y different. The European Tour is a different level. The grasses are different, the weather is different – as you know it can be four seasons in one hour over there. But it seems like the greens are all the same – the same surface. Nice bent grass everywhere. That makes it nice to putt on. But the quality of golf is definitely better. I've learned a lot over there. HKG: Talking of putting, I notice you're using a belly putter. Isn't that cheating a little? TJ: No! I heard they may ban it, but let's see. But I hold it like a normal putter. This year I have used a short putter, belly putter, short putter, belly putter ... I'm trying everything to hole a putt! When I use the long putter it helps me to be slower on the backstroke. I think that helps me. Now I'm a bit more smooth. But I may use the short putter next week. HKG: You've just returned from the European Masters at Crans in Switzerland. That looks like a beautiful course. Is it your favourite? TJ: You know, I was hitting it further than anyone there. I don't know why. Maybe the height. But I was longer, for sure. I did OK and I enjoyed it. My favourite course? I really like The Belfry in England. That's really nice. A really good golf course. That's probably my favourite. HKG: The Belfry? Really? You play all around the world and The Belfry – the one near Birmingham in England – is your favourite? You've played all four majors remember ... TJ: Yeah. Really nice last hole. Good greens. I like playing there a lot. And the 10th – a nice, short par-four. I can reach it with a three-wood, maybe a two-iron. HKGOLFER.COM
HKG: [nigh on incredulous] OK. So what are your goals for 2012? You're surely due a win ... the last one was the Ballantine's Championship in 2009. TJ: Once my back better I will do better too. Personally, I want to play in the Masters again [Thongchai became the first Thai golfer to play at Augusta when he achieved the feat in 2006]. And of course I want to win again. It's not that easy, you know [laughs]. HKG: Unlike the vast majority of pros today, you had a job during your amateur days: jumping out of helicopters on behalf of the Thai Army! Has that helped you in any way as far as your career is concerned? TJ: Definitely. In those days I would be training in the seaside, the jungle, the mountains ... wherever. I was carrying 30-40kg on my back and running – not walking – but running all day. All day! It was hard. It was really hard. But the most important thing is that it made me mentally tough. In the Army, there is no schedule. You don't know what you're going to have to do that day, and that helped me control my emotions. It really helped me mentally. As a pro, we all get angry if we duff a chip or whatever, but I'm able to control any mistakes I make as a result. Being in the Army has helped me with controlling my feelings. HKG: And helped you with your fitness, too, presumably? TJ: Of course. I go to the gym for two and a half hours a day – and even when I was injured, I was still running every evening. Golf has changed. You have to be fit. It looks easy [doing
what we do] but it isn't. Playing golf, travelling every week – you have to be fit, otherwise you are at a big disadvantage. It can be hard. HKG: Aside from everything else, you're also president of the Thai PGA. What have you been doing in your role there? TJ: There are 14 pro events in Thailand, of which two are on the Asian Tour. I want to create more opportunities for Thai pros to play in big events. I want to have big tournaments – I want to make a "Masters of Thailand" – for Thai golfers to experience. We have the King's Cup and the Queen's Cup [Asian Tour events with limited purses] but we should have more. I am working on this. I am trying to make things better. HKG: And you also have your own golf academy for children ... TJ: I have an academy and a foundation in my home town of Lop Buri [150km from Bangkok]. The foundation is to give poor kids a chance of education and golf and the academy is for good young golfers to become better through proper coaching. It costs THB6 million [approximately HK$1.5 million] per year to run and we started it in 2000. Ecco gives 100 pairs of shoes per year, which is a big help. It means all the kids can wear proper golf shoes. I'm very proud of what we've done there. HKG: What's next for Thongchai Jaidee? TJ: Win again. Once my back is fixed I'll be ready again. HKG: Will that be in time for the UBS Hong Kong Open? TJ: Maybe. I hope so. I love Hong Kong [laughs].
Asian Supremo (clockwise from top): Thongchai is targetting a successful 2012 following an injuryplagued season; showing off his short game skills; he last tasted victory on the European Tour at the 2009 Ballantine's Championship HK Golfer・OCT 2011
The brilliant Thai, winner of four European Tour events, talks to Alex Jenkins about playing with Colin Montgomerie, his compassion for Tiger Woods, the state of his own game and his life as a paratrooper in the Thai Army
he first thing you notice about Thongchai Jaidee is how ridiculously fit he is. The Thai – and former Asian – number one carries not an ounce of fat on him. Although he stands only five-foot-seven, Thongchai, who is approaching his 42nd birthday, is certainly not the type of chap you'd fancy armwrestling with the night's bar bill on the line. But then again,
this former Army paratrooper has had a habit of surprising people over the course of his brilliant career. For this interview, I met Thongchai for a few holes at the immaculate Amata Spring Golf Club in Chonburi, a 90-minute drive from Bangkok, where my subject featured prominently in winning the Royal Trophy for Asia against Europe in 2009. He is, I quickly realised, in jovial mood. "Nice shoes, man," he laughs, in reference to my brand-new pair of Ecco BIOM golf shoes. The Danish footwear brand - one of Thongchai's sponsors - has helped set up this meeting - and has kindly provided me with a suitably refined pair of spikes for the occasion. "I wear the same model when I practice in Asia, but when I'm on tour I need something a bit more solid for when it rains," he adds, pointing to his own robustlooking golf shoes. "You know – it can really rain heavily on the European Tour." I come from Europe and I do indeed know this – all too well, sadly. But what I didn't know was Thongchai's far better-than-average grasp of the English language. Since winning the 2004 Malaysian Open, a co-sanctioned European and Asian Tour event, Thongchai has plied his trade on both circuits, and has clearly learned a lot more along the way than simply putting the ball in the hole. We tee off on the 10th, a mid-length par four, and – thank you, God – I manage to hit a decent drive with a touch of fade down the right side of the fairway. "Just like Monty," yells Thongchai, clearly delighted. I'm delighted too. Good old Thongchai, I think. He recognises a nice little fairway-finding cut when he sees one. WRONG! Thongchai is pointing at my stomach, which I have to admit has become rather more rounded since marriage. "Just like Monty," he repeats, barely able to contain his laughter, before adding, "same huge shape." He then rips one 290 down the middle – his swing is breathtakingly effortless – and we're on our way. CONTINUED ON PAGE 68
HK Golfer・OCT 2011
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