HK Golfer SPECIAL EDITION: 2011 UBS HONG KONG OPEN PREVIEW
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION ISSUE 59
Terrific Travel: British Columbia Matteo Manassero Ryder Cup Stars Sir Nick Faldo
Miguel Angel Jiménez DISPLAY UNTIL JANUARY 15
The most interesting golfer in the world
32 On the Cover:
Miguel Angel Jiménez is the complete antithesis to the modern breed of pro, but that hasn't stopped the Spaniard from becoming one of the world's best players Photo by AFP
32 | All-Star Cast
10 | In Focus
This year's UBS Hong Kong Open, which takes place from December 1-4 over the famous old fairways of Fanling, welcomes a field peppered with Ryder Cup heroes of past and present By Mathew Scott
38 | The World's Most Interesting Golfer
In a sport bursting at the seams with young, supremely fit athletes, 47-year-old Miguel Angel Jiménez – a twotime winner of the Hong Kong Open – is living proof that there's more than one pathway to success By Lewine Mair
44 | Six of the Best
The last six editions of the UBS Hong Kong Open have been among the most thrilling in the event's 53-year history. HK Golfer takes a look through the archives By Alex Jenkins
60 | Clinical Kaymer
Brilliant German produces a wonder round to best a world-class field and scoop his first WGC title at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai By Tim Maitland
66 | From Sea to Sky
The HK Golfer travel guide British Columbia, home to some of the most visually spectacular courses on the planet By Andrew Marshall
78 | Final Shot – Nick Faldo
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An interview with the six-time major champion-turned TV commentator and golf course designer, during a visit to his newest creation in Vietnam By Charles McLaughlin
A pictorial review of the past 30 days – locally and globally By The Editors
19 | Tee Time
A look at two of the most impressive timepieces from the renowned luxury watchmaker, JS Watch co. Reykjavik By Robert Reid
24 | Driving Range
BMW has got it right again with the latest incarnation of its high performance M5 By Ben Oliver
26 | Single Malts
The HK Golfer whisky editor discovers anCnoc, a new (for him) Speyside single malt that leaves him wanting more By John Bruce
28 | Money Matters
Our financial columnist outlines the benefits of the Qualifying Non-UK Pension Scheme (QNUPS), which is finding increasing favour among British expatriates as a way of making serious savings By Howard Bilton
64 | Corporate Q&A
Peter Wong, CEO of HSBC Asia-Pacific, talks exclusively to HK Golfer about the global banking and financial service group's commitment to the development of golf in the region By The Editors HKGOLFER.COM
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION DEC 2011 • Issue 59
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:
TIMES INTERNATIONAL CREATION
66 DE PA R T M E N T S 08
HK Golfer Mailbag
Hong Kong Seniors Open
HK GOLFER is published by Times International Creation, 20/F, 28 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong. HK GOLFER is published monthly © 2011 by Times International Creation. Published in Hong Kong. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is strictly prohibited. PRINTED IN HONG KONG.
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HK Golfer Mailbag have been achieved had it not been for the snails in the final groups. Five and a half hours playing in threeballs is obviously far too long and the tournament – which was all set for a grandstand finish thanks to those brilliant 72nd-hole putts by both FernandezCastano and Pagunsan – suffered as a result. But even more than that, slowplaying professionals set a terrible example for juniors and those new to the game. This is not a new issue but clearly something should be done – and soon.
Snails in Singapore
The recent Barclays Singapore Open was so very nearly a great event, but it was hampered by the fact the final groups not played so slowly. As most readers will know, the play-off between Spain's Gonzales Fernandez-Castano (pictured) and Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines was interrupted not once but twice by inclement weather. The second thunderstorm was so bad that the pair couldn't finish on the Sunday and play resumed early the next morning. Monday finishes are almost always anticlimactic, there being few spectators able to make it back to the course on a work day, and so this proved in Singapore. But it needn't have happened. While everyone was quick to blame the wet weather (which is entirely expected in Singapore at this time of year), the fact is the final few groups on the Sunday took an unacceptable five and a half hours to complete their rounds. Had they played even slightly quicker there would have been every chance of the tournament finishing on time, which would obviously have been far more favourable for all concerned. Vincent Szeto Via email
The recent debate about the whys and wherefores of belly putters in the professional ranks is all very well, but in the amateur game there is a much more fundamental issue that is too often overlooked by twitchy putters considering the switch: matching the right putter to the right belly. One could be forgiven for assuming that all belly putters are suitable for all bellies. Alas, long afternoons uncomfortably impaled on a device too long for its advertised purpose proves otherwise – an indignity seldom faced with a conventional length model. Anyone sporting a significant overhang who is weighing up the pros and cons is well advised to bear this in mind before they start worrying about secondary considerations such as the spirit or aesthetics of the game. Portly Golfer Shek O Editor’s reply: I can't speak on behalf of the entire readership, PG, but there is certainly no shortage of significant overhangs – and terrible putters – in the HK Golfer offices. Your advice is most relevant and appreciated.
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.
Editor’s reply: You have to feel for Barclays, who sponsor tournaments on the PGA, European and Asian tours. All three of their events this year have been affected by bad weather and have not been completed within the four scheduled days. But you're absolutely right, Patrick. While the Singapore event had been reduced to 54 holes, a Sunday finish could well
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Local Focus Wie's Charity Drive Michelle Wie made a flying visit to Hong Kong in late October to support the annual HSBC Golf Charity Day at Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club, which raises funds for UNICEF. Said 22-year-old Wie: " Besides playing on the tour, Iâ€™m also studying as a university student. Therefore I am very supportive of this event which aims to make sure more Asian children have a chance to learn." Since the beginning of the partnership between HSBC and UNCIEF in 2008, the bank has donated a total of over HK$8 million to support education programmes for disadvantaged children in Asia. Photo by Patrick Leung
Asia Focus Paddling Down a Par-Five While the majority of Bangkok's courses escaped relatively unscathed from the early November floods that wreaked havoc upon many areas of Thailand, Bangkok Golf Club was one of the unlucky ones, the 27-hole course feeling the full brunt of Mother Nature. This view of the totally submerged par-five ninth hole was captured by Bangkok resident and avid golfer Dick Graham, who paddled his way across the course by boat after parking his car on a highway overpass some distance away. Said Graham: "The water got up almost up to the entrance to the Pro Shop, and that's quite high. I was a member of the club during the floods of 1995 and it's very similar situation to back then. The course was closed for six months during the rebuilding, so it's going to be interesting to see what they do this time when the water recedes." Photo by Dick Graham; Bruce Chan /Golf 007 [inset]
Bangkok Golf Club prior to November's flooding
Global Focus The Rain Men Juvic Pagunsan and Gonzalo FernandezCastano shake hands following the completion of the rain-delayed Barclays Singapore Open play-off at Sentosa Golf Club in November. Fernandez-Castano eventually prevailed with a birdie at the second hole of sudden death, which was completed on Monday morning following torrential rain that suspended play the previous evening. It was the Spaniard's fifth European Tour title and his first since 2008. It was hard luck on Pagunsan, who missed a short putt on the first play-off hole for victory. Nevertheless, the Filipino earned a careerrecord US$666,660 for his second place finish and vaulted to the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit standings. Photo by Asian Tour
Presidents Cup Comes to Asia South Korea will become the first Asian country to host the Presidents Cup in 2015. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said prior to this year's event that an as-yet undecided Korean club will host the biennial tournament between the United States and an International team of golfers representing non-European countries. Finchem said the PGA Tour has "a number of options'' for a host club but will not announce the specific venue until the first half of next year. Three South Korean players were on this year's Presidents Cup team at Royal Melbourne â€“ this year's Players Championship winner KJ Choi (pictured), KT Kim and YE Yang, who in 2009 became the first Asian golfer to win a major when he overcame Tiger Woods at the US PGA Championship at Hazeltine. "I am very honored, very delighted ... it is a positive step for the development of the game in Korea,'' said Choi, 41. "KT, YE and I will try to keep up our 'A' game up to 2015.''
Yang, who is ranked number 43 in the world, said he was pleased to see such a "festival of golf'" coming to his home country. "I feel very proud that I picked up golf as a living,'' he said. "I have no doubt this will improve the golf culture and golf market in Korea.'' Under the rotation system, the US will host the 2013 Presidents Cup at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.
Lefty Elected to Hall of Fame
Four-time major champion Phil Mickelson was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in mid November, saying his enshrinement won't slow down his quest to reach 50 career victories. Mickelson (pictured), who became eligible for the honor after turning 40 last year, received 72 per cent of votes cast, the Hall of Fame said. "Being called a hall of fame golfer, it does make me sound a little bit old," Mickelson said in Singapore, where he was competing in the Barclays Singapore Open. "But I don't feel old. I feel like I've got a lot of great golf ahead of me." Mickelson has won 39 tournaments since turning professional in 1992, including three Masters titles and a US PGA Championship. He has been ranked number two in the world several times, though he has slipped to number 11 after winning only one tournament so far this year. Mickelson said his biggest goals for the rest of his career are to win at least 11 more tournaments, which would give him 50 victories, and win a US Open and Open Championship. To be elected to the Hall of Fame, golfers must receive at least 65 per cent of votes cast by journalists, historians and golf dignitaries. After Mickelson, Fred Couples received the second most votes with 38 per cent while Davis Love III and Mark O'Meara each received 29 per cent. Mickelson will be inducted on 7 May next year at the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum in St Augustine, Florida. 16
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CLUBHOUSE Away from the Fairways The Frisland GOÐ from JS Watch co. Reykjavik
Something Special JS Watch co. Reykjavik is a family-run Icelandic watchmaker whose exceptional timepieces promise to put the country on the map for something other than hot springs, Bjork and disruptive volcanoes, writes Robert Reid
f ter years of imagining their dream watch, friends Sigurdur Gilbertsson, Julius Heidarsson and Grimkell Sigurthorsson decided to make the timepiece a reality. In 2005, with Gilbertson’s father, Gilbert Gudjonsson, a master watchmaker of 40 years onboard, the team launched it first line and JS Watch co. Reykjavik was born. The collection was an immediate success and sold out within six months. Iceland’s economy, however, turned out to be built on an unstable base and the Icelandic Krona – the currency of this island nation – collapsed. The wealthy domestic market on which the firm relied, vanished. CONTINUED OVERLEAF HKGOLFER.COM
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Worth saving: The Sif North Atlantic Rescue Timer (NART) is a classicly-styled pilot's watch, which is water resistent to a depth of 1000 meters 20
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In the wake of the financial collapse, however, millions of tourists flocked to Iceland, desperate to take advantage of the prices offered by the country’s weak economy. JS Watch co’s precision craftsmanship, attention to detail and sheer excellence in watch making appealed to this new influx of visitors. The brand was quickly back on its feet and working furiously to keep up with the renewed demand. JS Watch has gone on to create five highly sought after limited edition collections. Having survived the financial failure, it seems only fitting that the company has created a new timepiece that embraces Iceland’s volcanic vicissitude. The Frisland GOÐ is a tribute watch that pays homage to the destructive power of the country’s volcanoes. Based on the brand’s
popular Frisland collection, this new edition has the name GOÐ etched onto the dial in a vivid red hue. The polished black dial is actually a carefully applied layer of volcanic ash taken from the cloud that grounded European air traffic for weeks in late 2010. Beneath the brimstone, the timepiece is anything but ordinary. Assembled by hand, the case is made from 316L surgical steel and water resistant up to 50 meters. It protects an automatic ETA movement, customised to JS Watch’s specifications. The finished product has a power reserve of up to 38 hours and is visible through a sapphire caseback. The simple, bold aesthetic continues with oversized white roman numerals at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions. Plain white indices complete the hour markings and a red sweeping HKGOLFER.COM
A classically styled pilot’s watch, the Sif is generously proportioned at 40mm. The remarkably clean dial design and robust construction has made it a treasured possession of the fearless men and woman of the coastguard.
Elite club: It has been reported that Icelandic people take more pride in their Coast Guard than in any another establishment (above); master watchmaker Gilbert Gudjonsson (below) presents this helicoptor crew with their own Sif NART, of which only 941 have been made
hand compliments the finish. At 44mm the Frisland GOÐ is a real statement and a piece of geological authority. Fiercely proud of Iceland’s nautical prowess, JS Watch co. has also produced a hardy timekeeper in conjunction with the country’s national coast guard – the Sif North Atlantic Rescue Timer. A classically styled pilot’s watch, the Sif is generously proportioned at 40mm. The remarkably clean dial design and robust construction has made it a treasured possession of the fearless men and woman of the coastguard. White luminous numerals provide visibility in poor conditions and the water resistance extends to a depth of 1000 metres.
Only 941 of these watches have been produced and the case back is specifically numbered. Available in stainless steel or with a contemporary PVD black coating the finished timepiece is as a comfortable in the office as it is in rough seas. Reflecting the determination of the Icelandic people and the country’s dramatic nature, the GOÐ and Sif timepieces exemplify JS Watch patriotism. These timepieces, which are only just now available in Hong Kong, are rare examples of traditional craftsmanship working in harmony with contemporary passion. Their mark may not yet match that of a volcano, but they’re a powerful – if exclusive – force in the world of horology and a brand the people of Iceland should be proud of. JS Watch co. Reykjavik is represented in Hong Kong by Times International Creation. For more information, contact email@example.com; (852) 3590 4153
Our Master Watchmaker never loses his concentration With his legendary concentration and 45 years of experience our Master Watchmaker ensures that we take our waterproofing rather seriously. Gilbert O. Gudjonsson, our Master Watchmaker and renowned craftsman, inspects every single timepiece before it leaves our workshop. As a privately owned and operated company, we have the opportunity and duty to give all our timepieces the personal attention they deserve.
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Official HK Agent: Times International Creation ltd. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +852-3590-4153
Still the King BMW has got it right again with the latest incarnation of its high performance M5, writes Ben Oliver
ou need to come to a place like this to really enjoy a BMW M5. You need long, empty roads and few police, and few places in Europe provide it but here: rural Andalucía, in Spain's gritty, arid, lonely south-western corner. The region has Europe's only desert and feels distinctly non-European. You encounter few other cars; mostly ancient, dusty hatchbacks. This is where BMW has chosen to present its new M5 super-saloon to the first handful of motoring writers to test it. You can see why they chose it, and why this region around the Sierra Nevada mountains was the home of the spaghetti Western in the sixties. The area hasn't changed, but the M5 has. The engine has been downsized in capacity and cylinder count from the old, monstrous 5.0-litre V10 to a 4.4-litre 24
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twin-turbocharged V8, to get a near 50 per cent improvement in emissions and fuel consumption, and more power and torque. Fans of BMW’s M-division were still concerned though: this new M5 didn't seem to have the same obvious visual brawn as BMW’s other high-performance M-cars. And would a turbocharged engine sound as good as the old, F1-style, naturally-aspirated V10, or be as responsive? Criminally, the first thing I did was to stick the new, seven-speed twin-clutch paddleshift manual into auto mode, point the car at the Sierra Nevada and forget all about it as we cruised past the (relative) bustle of Seville and Granada. You couldn't do this in old M5s with their simpler manual gearboxes. The gearbox in the new one might be its greatest asset. It is utterly seamless when in fully automatic mode, pulling off that impressive trick which only super-high torque engines can manage, licking lazily between sixth and seventh in almost every circumstance; you can see how it produces those claimed economy and emissions figures. It's quiet too, and the ride is astonishingly good. The cabin is lush, trimmed in supercar HKGOLFER.COM
materials but with a standard of fit few supercar makers would recognize. So already this doesn't feel like an M-car; they usually demand some compromise, or show some idiosyncrasy or flaw. But you didn't start reading this to find out about the M5's cruising abilities. So I pulled off the autopista and onto one of those long, straight, deserted desert roads to pit 552bhp against 1,945 unladen kilogrammes. BMW seems to have given the new M5 more setup options than its old Sauber F1 cars. You can configure the damping, steering, throttle response, shift speed and traction control separately, and the mosaic of buttons around the gear shifter gives you immediate access to most of it, making rolling adjustment easy. And there are now two M-buttons on the steering wheel to store your favourite combination of settings, one of which, if you're even half a man, will be maximum-attack, everything-off. Good God, it's fast. First, second and third are thrown away almost as quickly as you read this, each virtuoso upshift eliciting a pop from the exhausts and a polite, affirmative nod from your head. BMW claims acceleration of 4.4 seconds to 100kph, but it feels sub-four to 60 and sub-nine to 160kph. The thrust is immense and even and relentless in a manner peculiar to modern, big-capacity, high-power turbocharged engines; the M5's motor shares its character, if not its absolute numbers, with cars like the Bugatti Veyron and the new McLaren. I just don't think you'd want to go much faster in a saloon car, and if you did, you wouldn’t get it stopped without the help of a parachute. The brakes have been upgraded to six-pot calipers but the M5's mass has grown by 115kgs and all that torque means you're going faster sooner. And the noise is a little disappointing; like some of those other turbocharged engines the bloke in the cabin paying for it all gets a bum deal. From the outside the V8 sounds loud and rich and colourful, with that pop on the upchange and a drumroll coming down; in the confines of my hotel's underground car park the overrun cracked like a rifle shot and had me laughing out loud. But from the cabin, on the move, you'd like a little more volume and detail. So from the valley floor I headed up into the Sierra Nevada itself, aiming for one of the few passes that goes straight over the range. On twisty roads you need to exercise a few of those options to get the best from the M5; the firmest damper setting keeps the body flatter than a model's midriff, and the heaviest steering setting feels confident and serious when you're attacking. The M5 doesn't handle like a twotonne car; you start by showing respect but end up just enjoying yourself, though you never forget to allow a little extra braking space as HKGOLFER.COM
you charge down the far side of the pass. Keep an eye on that fuel gauge, though; you’ll need a light right foot to get the improved economy and emissions BMW claims. A mixture of cruising and mountain driving saw us hose out three-quarters of the M5's enlarged 80-litre tank in just 300km. The M5 isn't perfect. But few M-cars have been. They're not meant to have the crushing completeness of a standard BMW 5-series; instead you get terrifying performance, better ride and handling than you could hope for, and a few flaws you can probably work around. And you'll notice that I haven't once suggested that downsizing the engine or using turbochargers has lessened my respect for this mighty car. In the land of the dusty hatchback, the BMW M5 is still king.
Change of Pace (clockwise from left): The new M5 reaches 100kph in 4.4 seconds; the car doesn't handle like a two-tonner; the interior is lush, trimmed in supercar materials
SCORECARD How much? Engine: Transmission: Performance: How heavy:
HK$1.648 million 4395cc twin-turbo V84.4-litre V8, twin-turbo 552bhp @ 6000rpm 7-speed dual-clutch 4.4sec 0-100kph, 250kph 1945kgs
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At the end of a great day...
A Surprise in Store
John Bruce discovers anCnoc, a new (for him) Speyside single malt that leaves him wanting more ... and more
any of our senses are recognised as evoking memories better than speech and I must admit that a great song or pervasive scent have often rolled back the years in my mind, especially when my senses have been piqued by a hint of Scotland’s greatest export (people excepted). This was brought to mind when circumstances conspired to introduce both myself and the publisher of this magazine to anCnoc single malt whisky of which I have to admit that I had absolutely no knowledge of previous to this month. That is the danger of joining the Scottish diaspora: one can easily lose touch with developments back home. Appropriately enough for this publication, we were at a small golfing event and having myself won the award for taking the most shots, I thought, along with my companions, that it should be immediately sampled. It was a bottle of the 12 Year Old expression of the aforementioned single malt which is produced at Knockdhu Distillery in the village of Knock on the edge of Speyside, Aberdeenshire. The name comes from the Gaelic meaning “dark hill” as the shadow on the hillside often leaves the grass and heather appearing black. But by contrast and like many Speyside malts, the whisky itself was light coloured and once the bottle was opened, the surprises came thick and fast. The nose is verging on floral in its aroma and also hints at the sweetness that would otherwise thoroughly surprise with one’s first sip. This was an incredibly smooth whisky and hints of citrus and dark sugar conflicted with each other to thoroughly delight our assembled tasters. The finish remained sweet but the final surprise was the length and strength of the fruit that lingered delightfully throughout the mouth. The anCnoc single malt is aged in American or Spanish oak barrels that have previously been used to mature bourbon or sherry and whichever is used for the 12 Year Old, the ageing and traditional distilling methods of Knockdhu have produced a whisky that has become an immediate favourite of mine. 26
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... a sublime experience
The downside to such "group sharing" is the sharing part but I have already remedied that situation with a follow up purchase. Unfortunately, all that is available in Hong Kong at the moment is this 12 Year Old expression but its excellence ensures that I shall seek out others when I am next in Scotland. In fact, I may visit the Knockdhu distillery as, in contrast to the traditional methods employed to produce the whisky, the website offers some thoroughly modern instructions on using one’s sat nav device to locate Knock village. Language is my opinion can often require brevity but at other, more thoughtful times, I revel in elaborate language and adverbs are an inherently necessary part of the process. Knockdhu distillery has only two stills but given the delightful surprise that it has produced in the anCnoc 12 Year Old, I must believe that “small is beautiful” and I would argue that “beautiful” in this case is a thoroughly justifiable adverb.
In fact, I may visit the Knockdhu distillery as, in contrast to the traditional methods employed to produce the whisky, the website offers some thoroughly modern instructions on using one’s sat nav device to locate Knock village. HKGOLFER.COM
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.
email@example.com; (852) 3590 4153 lastdropdistillers.com
Expats, Take Note
Howard Bilton outlines the benefits of the Qualifying Non-UK Pension Scheme (QNUPS), which in finding increasing favour among British expatriates as a way of making serious savings
any UK expatriates do not realize that they remain UK domiciled and therefore subject to UK inheritance (IHT) on their worldwide estate at a rate of 40 per cent after allowances. This can come as a major shock to a family after the death of the breadwinner. What can be done about this? There are options. Long term expatriates may have the chance to establish a foreign domicile. If they can do that they lose their liability to IHT on foreign assets. I will write more about this and the recent changes to the procedures for establishing a foreign domicile in a later article. Transfers of wealth on death between husband and wife are exempt from IHT but only if the spouse is also domiciled in the UK (or both are non-domiciled). This catches out many expatriates who have married a foreign passport holder who is likely to be domiciled elsewhere. Even then the IHT is only delayed rather than avoided because on the death of the survivor the tax will be payable on the passing of the family assets to the next generation. IHT is avoided on any assets given away to another individual at least seven years before death. This is rarely an attractive option as any attempt to continue to enjoy the assets will normally result in the Reservation of Benefit rules applying and the tax being charged on the donor’s death. And persons rarely know when they are going to die and will rarely be content to rely on their relatives to maintain them, so generally this is a non-starter for the majority. It is possible to transfer assets to a Family Investment Company and give away the capital value whilst retaining control and the income. Again, I will write more about this in a later article. Another option, and one which is finding increasing favour, is the recently available Qualifying Non-UK Pension Scheme (QNUPS). QNUPS have not yet been widely used because the legislation enabling such schemes was only recently made effective. The enabling legislation, which also created the better known QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme), was passed in 2004 in response to the EU pension’s directive 2003 which was designed to further the EU principle of free movement of capital. The legislation became effective in 2006 but QNUPS could not be used until HM Revenue & Customs passed the accompanying regulations. They only got round to doing that in 2010. As you might imagine, HMRC were not massively keen on allowing UK persons to create offshore pensions over which HMRC have little or no control and no ability to tax. A QNUPS can invest in a wide range of assets, much greater than a normal UK pension. A QNUPS can invest in residential property and make loans to its members to purchase personal assets rather than having the constraints of trying to borrow from a bank. This can be very attractive in the current climate as banks normally only lend if you can prove you don’t need the money and are even stricter now. A UK pension can do neither, or at least not without a significant penalty charge. 28
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A QNUPS is exempt from UK IHT on the member’s death and this is its biggest advantage. The coalition government have recently abolished IHT for approved UK pension schemes. However they have replaced this 40 per cent tax with a new special tax charge of 55 per cent imposed before the benefits are paid out to the beneficiary. The charge applies irrespective of where the member was resident before death and where the beneficiary receiving the benefit is resident. A QNUPS fund is exempt from the new 55 per cent charge. The advantage of a normal UK approved pension over a QNUPS is that contributions attract tax relief. Contributions to a QNUPS do not attract relief. But that relief is now capped at maximum of £55,000 per year, so all UK resident individuals should have both a QNUPS and a UK approved pension. They should maximise their relief by transferring £55,000 of their income into an approved scheme (before tax has been suffered) and then transfer as much as they like of their taxed income into a QNUPS to obtain the long term advantages noted above. It is pointless putting this taxed income into a UK pension. There can be problems if the only reason for setting up a QNUPS is to avoid UK IHT. There is a danger that, where the member is in ill health and sets up the QNUPS with the sole objective of avoiding IHT, HMRC could seek to attack the arrangement. They would do this by trying to claim the pension was essentially a sham and was no different to a normal trust. This could lead to the member suffering a lifetime IHT charge on the transfer into the QNUPS and a further charge on his death if he were to die within seven years, which is likely in such circumstances. But there are so many other advantages in setting up a QNUPS that it should be easy to point to, and have well documented, these alternative and additional motives and thereby rebut this suggestion if it were ever made. In order to be a QNUPS the scheme must fulfil certain conditions. The scheme must have HKGOLFER.COM
the same retirement age as applies in the UK; it must provide an income upon retirement; it must be open to the local population in the jurisdiction where it is established and recognized for tax purposes in that jurisdiction. The UK government has shown that it is not beyond raiding UK pensions when it needs money to prop up its own finances. At the moment it needs money arguably more now than at any time since the Second World War. This is not unique to the UK government. Most of the EU governments are in the same boat. UK taxes are unlikely to go down and any UK pension is at the mercy of the government. It would seem eminently sensible to try and remove pension assets from the UK tax system and to get them outside the influence of the government. There is no suggestion that these schemes are not going to be around for the long term but why wait? This facility is available now. Anything which puts assets into a friendlier tax climate, allows more flexibility in their administration and draws down and carries substantial IHT tax advantages would seem to be a very attractive proposition which everyone should grab with both hands. So to summarise: UK expatriates who have an existing UK pension should transfer it to a QROPS scheme as soon as possible. UK residents
A QNUPS is exempt from UK inheritance tax on the member’s death and this is its biggest advantage ... it is exempt from the coalition's government's new 55 per cent tax charge should continue to set up a UK pensions for the first £55,000 per year to take advantage of the tax relief on their contributions. Those who wish to contribute more than £55,000 should set up a QNUPS. UK expatriates who remain UK domiciled are advised to set up a QNUPS, especially if they may return to the UK as then they will not only get the UK IHT advantage, but also the underlying income and capital gains will be exempt from UK tax. If a UK expatriate is not planning on returning to the UK then the family investment company may be the preferred option, as it is simpler, cheaper and more flexible. Every UK expatriate should do one or the other as to do nothing will prove very, very expensive. 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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HK Golfer・NOV 2011
All-Star Cast This year's UBS Hong Kong Open, which takes place from 1-4 December over the famous old fairways of Fanling, welcomes a field peppered with Ryder Cup heroes of past and present, writes Mathew Scott
Charles McLaughlin (Rory McIlroy); AFP (Olazabal)
olden memories will be rolling through the mind of Jose Maria Olazábal when he returns to town for the 2011 UBS Hong Kong Open. The now 45-year-old Spaniard was a winner here back in 2001 when he birdied the final three holes, hitting a stunning fiveiron approach on the last to within inches to help seal a onestroke victory over Sweden’s Henrik Bjornstad. It was breathtaking stuff – and that sublime five-iron – which was played from a decidedly dodgy lie in the right-hand rough at Fanling's fabulous closer – has become the stuff of legend. That victory came at a time when Olazábal was among the dominant forces on the fairways of the world, with two Masters Green Jackets already hanging in his wardrobe back home in Hondarribia thanks to victories at Augusta National in 1994 and 1995. In total, the Ryder Cup star has 31 tournament victories to his name, and it came as no surprise when he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame two years ago.
Been there, not quite done it: Rory McIlroy will be looking to set the record straight when he returns to Fanling for a fourth time; José María Olazábal, the European Ryder Cup captain, with the trophy he claimed in 2001 (inset) 32
HK Golfer・DEC 2011
HK Golfer・DEC 2011
presents itself –early – to get themselves noticed, a notion not lost for a moment on the reigning champion Ian Poulter. “First things first, I want to win again in Hong Kong – as players we go into every tournament wanting to win. But for the next 12 months the Ryder Cup will be at the back of our minds too,” said Poulter. “You want to make sure you get enough points to get on the team because for a golfer there is nothing quite like that experience.” Alongside the Englishman, there’s Rory McIlroy, Padraig Harrington, Ross Fisher, Miguel Angel Jiménez (see page 40 ), brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari and Peter Hanson from the 2010 Ryder Cup team renewing their acquaintances at Fanling – as well Montgomerie. Hotting things up, too, are the likes of the in-form Justin Rose and young Italian gun Matteo Manassero. Poulter arrives in Hong Kong fresh from teaming with best friend Rose at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in Hainan and before
Likely contenders: Defending champion Ian Poulter and friend and fellow countryman Justin Rose (top) join 2003 champion Padraig Harrington (right) in the race for a spot in the 2012 Ryder Cup team 34
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So Olazábal can be excused a few moments of ref lection once play gets under way on December 1 but when they do come, rest assured they will be fleeting because the fiercely competitive Spaniard will still be firmly focused on the business at hand. First – and foremost – there will be his own chances in a tournament that this year includes Olazábal among a slew of former winners in its field. And then there’s the little matter of the Spaniard’s role as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain. This year’s UBS Hong Kong Open boasts eight of the 12 European players who so memorably clinched a 14½ to 13½ victory over the Americans at Celtic Manor, Wales, back in 2010, alongside Olazábal, who acted as nonplaying vice-captain, and, of course, that man Colin Montgomerie, who skippered the team to victory. Make no mistake, the events which are scheduled to unfold at the next staging of the famous biennial event – at the Medinah Country Club, Chicago, next September – will from this moment on be never far from the minds of all those players and from those of a great many more Europeans who missed out on selection last time around as well. Olazábal made his Ryder Cup debut as a 21-year-old in 1987 when the Europeans famously grabbed victory on American soil for the very first time and he has long claimed that taking part in the competition is one of the greatest honours a golfer can attain. While there is a long way to go before Olazábal names his team, for those players gathered here in Hong Kong the opportunity HKGOLFER.COM
AFP; Alex Jenkins (Fanling)
Ryder reality: The Molinari brothers (top) will need to find the kind of form that they showed in 2010 if they're to be a factor at Fanling this time around; Colin Montgomerie (right), who won the title in 2005, might not have won for four years, but the Composite Course suits him down to the ground 36
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that at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai he showed flashes of the type of form that took him to a one-stroke victory over Simon Dyson and Manassero last year, and saw him in May claim the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain. Last year the Englishman flirted with a 59 on the second day at Fanling – not even a slight earth tremor while he was on the 14th could shake his focus – before settling for a 10-under 60 that set Poulter well and truly on course for the title. And while Poulter freely admits to enjoying time spent out on the fairways with Rose, he’s not about to let his mate in on any inside information about that historic Composite Course at The Hong Kong Golf Club, as Rose makes his debut here in Hong Kong. In a recent interview, the 31-year-old Rose revealed he had asked Poulter about what to expect once he steps out here – but any answers to those questions had been politely declined. Not that Rose really needs too much assistance, given his run of form over the past two seasons. The South African-born, Orlandobased Englishman has won three times on the PGA Tour since the start of 2010 – picking up the Memorial, the AT&T National and the BMW Championship. Rose has collected the winner’s cheque now 10 times since turning pro in 1998, following his sensational fourth-placed finish at the Open Championship as a 17-yearold amateur. Rose was left out of the reckoning for the 2010 Ryder Cup – quite controversially, too,
according to some – and so from Hong Kong onwards he’ll no doubt be looking to maintain the kind of form that makes a repeat of that situation unimaginable. A nother former winner returning to Hong Kong is Harrington, the threetime major champion who claimed the title back in 2003 and has over the years become a ma i n stay of t he European’s Ryder Cup tea m. T he 4 0 -yea rold has another added incentive to perform well here as he goes in to the event well off the pace in the Race to Dubai standings, while it is only the top 60 who are given an invitation to take part in the season-ending Dubai World Championship presented by DP World, which takes place a week after our event. For McIlroy, 2011 presents an opportunity to get the job done in a city he loves and over a course that by now must feel like a second home as the Northern Irishman has been coming here since his days as a junior. Back in town now as a major winner – thanks to his stunning eight-stroke victory in the US Open back in June – McIlroy will be looking to set the record straight this year after he finished as runner-up behind Lin Wen-tang in 2008, falling victim to one of golf’s great recoveries as the Taiwanese golfer pulled off a miracle shot in the sudden-death play-off. Last year, McIlroy finished sixth, four strokes behind Poulter, and the 22-year-old arrives in town fresh from a victory October’s Shanghai Masters and an equal fourth in the HSBC Champions. That result saw McIlroy move into a career-high second in the world rankings, behind England’s Luke Donald, and is sure to have him full of confidence come tee-off time. Italy’s Molinari brothers – Francesco and Edoardo – are another pair heading to Hong Kong fresh from World Cup duties, where they were set to defend their title, and both will again also be hoping to play a part as the Ryder Cup unfolds next year. The 28-year-old Francesco has come close on two occasions in Hong Kong, first when part of the 2008 play-off threesome with McIlroy and Lin that ended with such drama, and then again HKGOLFER.COM
the next year when he came joint-third behind Grégory Bourdy. Victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions and a tied-sixth at the Dubai World Championship in 2010 marked a career year for the Italian which included his Ryder Cup debut. Elder brot her Edoa rdo a lso had a breakthrough year in 2010. There was the Ryder Cup win, of course, and there were also victories on the European Tour at the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond and at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. The big occasion is certainly nothing new for Edoardo – back in 2005 he became the first European in 95 years to claim the US Amateur crown. Two more veterans of the 2010 Ryder Cup campaign heading to Hong Kong are the Swede Peter Hanson and Englishman Ross Fisher. Hanson was a fifth-place finisher here back in 2007 (behind Jiménez) and has now won 10 times on tour, picking up trophies from the Iberdola Open Cala Millor Mallorca and the Czech Open in 2010. The 34-year-old will be hoping he’s right in the mix at this year’s UBS Hong Kong Open, as will Fisher who showed the world in no uncertain terms just how much talent he has when he took the 2010 3 Irish Open with an astonishing 18-under 266 for the tournament. And then there is Monty. Long a regular on the fairways at Fanling, the Scot took the title in 2006, battling through blustery conditions on the final day for a one-stroke victory over South African James Kingston, who famously doublebogeyed the last hole. Montgomerie now has 40 tournament wins through a celebrated career which was crowned by his captaincy in last year’s Ryder Cup success.
New Hole for Composite Course Fanling has been the venue for Hong Kong's national Open since the inaugural tournament in 1959, making it one of the most venerable layouts in championship golf today. Indeed, only Augusta National, home of the Masters Tournament, can claim to have hosted more professional events. Naturally enough, the holes earmarked for play during the Hong Kong Open have changed over the years – with 54 of them, the Hong Kong Golf Club has plenty to choose from – but this year marks the first time that the newly remodelled 17th hole of the New Course (pictured) will be used during the championship. The hole – which will be played as the 15th on the Composite Course – is a stout 180-yard par-three designed by architect Martin Hawtree, featuring an imaginatively contoured green surrounded on three sides by five deep bunkers. Hawtree has plenty of experience in such matters; the Englishman has worked with the R&A on numerous occasions in setting up the classic British links courses for Open Championship play. He is also the man responsible for designing Donald Trump's much publicised course on the Aberdeenshire coast, which is slated to open in 2012. With the ushering in of the new hole, one had to be struck from the Composite Course scorecard – and that misfortune was bestowed on the second hole of the Eden Course, a shortish par-three that also played as the second hole during the championship in recent past Opens. The overall course yardage has increased slightly to 6,730 yards, with par remaining as 70. –Alex Jenkins
HK Golfer・DEC 2011
The World's Most Interesting Golfer In a sport bursting to the seams with young, supremely fit athletes, 47- year-old Miguel Angel Jiménez – a two-time winner of the Hong Kong Open – is living proof that there's more than one pathway to success, writes Lewine Mair
hen Miguel Angel Jiménez says “No,” he doesn’t necessarily mean it. A month or so prior to the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla, my office rang to ask for a feature on the Spaniard. The request had come a little late and a phone call to the player’s management group revealed that Jiménez was not doing any more interviews. He had done enough; he wanted to concentrate on his golf. I asked if it would make any difference were I to go out to the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre, high up in the Swiss Alps. Perhaps I could catch him at the start of the week. The manager responded, as politely as she could, that it would probably make no difference. Crans being Crans, a little mountain eerie which has a touch of St Andrews in the way town and course are one, I went just the same. When it came to the pro-am day, I walked a few holes with other possible candidates for my feature before following Jiménez's back nine. He may or may not have noticed me at some point but, at a time when I was standing well behind the 18th tee, he called across. “So you come anyway,” he laughed. “You will join us for lunch. One-thirty in the pizzeria up the road.” “Us” turned out to be a table for 12 taking in friends and family including his now ex-wife, Montserrat. He was the perfect host whilst simultaneously giving his full attention to questions about his career. Jiménez, who will be 48 in January, had good reason to be proud on any number of counts, not least his tally of European Tour titles which is now up to 18. But there was nothing, it seemed, which appealed to him more than that he was the last of a long line of Spaniards to have played his way on to the European Tour via the caddie ranks. Seve Ballesteros, of course, took that route, as did such as José Maria Cañizares and Manuel Piñero. (José María Olazábal, in contrast, was the first from humble beginnings to have developed under the umbrella of the Spanish Golf Federation). Jiménez can remember his first day as a caddie. His oldest brother, Juan, the professional at Torrequebrada, needed some young lads to carry bags over a busy weekend and the then 14-year-old Miguel obliged. He had no interest whatever in golf, only in the handful of pesetas he would pocket on the Sunday night. He carried on chasing this “easy money” but, almost inevitably, he was soon copying the other caddies in hitting balls while the members were not looking. Not too many of the golf clubs, at that point, allowed caddies to play other than in the evenings when the regulars had left for home. “People looked down on us,” explained Jiménez,, matter-of-factly rather than bitterly. Yet there was one situation which hurts to this day. It was a junior inter-club match in which the boy chosen to represent Torrequebrada was some ‘rich kid’ who was the same age as he was but could not play a lick. Jiménez, who was by then worth a five or six handicap, dreamed of being given his place on the team but instead had the frustration of having to caddie for the youth.
Stellar Vintage: Like a bottle of his favoured Rioja, Jiménez only seems to get better with age
HK Golfer・DEC 2011
HK Golfer・DEC 2011
The curly red hair, he said, was another constant, “only when he saw that people like it, he makes it even more curly”. The pony-tail is seen as one more stylish Spanish touch, the golf shoes another. Like Gary Player, Jimenez has his shoes handmade by Gigi Neguloni, an upmarket family shoemakers’ in Milan. The fact that he drives a series of fast cars and recently exchanged Montserrat for a rather stunning younger partner might give the impression that he is not too different from many another super-rich and somewhat spoiled sportsman. Where the cars are concerned, his interest has been in place since the days when he was an impecunious teenager working in a garage while, on the other front, he would be the last person to refute the suggestion that he is a bit of a ladies’ man. In truth, he is charming to everyone and in league of his own in a pro-am context. “Sometimes,” he says, “I make friends for the day but there are times when I will make friends for life.” Keith Waters, the European Tour’s Director of International Policy, can furnish a perfect illustration of the classy manner in which Jiménez, goes about his business. He was at a tournament not so long ago where he needed to speak to Jiménez, about some Spanish happening. He knew roughly when the player would be finishing his round and, as always applies when someone who knows
Where the cars are concerned, his interest has been in place since the days when he was an impecunious teenager working in a garage while, on the other front, he would be the last person to refute the suggestion that he is a bit of a ladies’ man. 40
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his stuff wants to talk to a golfer, he kept a wary eye on the leader board. When he first looked, Jiménez,was three under with six to play. However, by the time he looked again, his man had finished at three under having closed bogey, bogey, bogey. “If it had been anyone else,” says Waters, “I would have melted away. Because it was Miguel Angel, I knew it was OK to go ahead.” When Sergio Garcia won the 2011 Castello Masters and the Andalucía Masters back-toback, Garcia put his success down to Colin Montgomerie, who had asked him to serve as a vice-captain at Celtic Manor. As Montgomerie had half expected, the excitement had rekindled the old flames. It was not so very different for Jiménez,. Back in 1997 at Valderrama, Seve invited Jiménez,to be one of his side-kicks. My own HKGOLFER.COM
view at the time was that Jiménez,was a tad insulted at the way Seve called upon him to do all the more menial tasks such as handing out bananas to hungry golfers. Jiménez, though, has always been quick to laugh off that impression. “I felt a part of the team and I felt honoured to be working for him ... It was just that the longer the week wore on, the more I wanted to be playing myself. Something clicked.” To date, Jiménez has played in four of the matches – 1999, 2004, 2008 and 2010. Nineteen-ninety-nine, when he picked up two half points and a win, was his best showing until Celtic Manor in 2010. He was never going to be on the same wavelength as Nick Faldo for the match of 2008 – the music was wrong for a start. Faldo inflicted his own choice of rock hits on his troops and introduced a set of drums to the
Charles McLaughlin (Fanling); AFP (Ryder Cup)
The latter refused to take advice and, after a couple of holes, Jiménez was in no mood to dispense it. To this day, Jiménez, has no idea if that ‘rich kid’ has ever told the story against himself. It was Angel de la Riva, a far-sighted President of the Royal Federation of Andalucía, who was the first of his kind to see Jiménez,as a great golfer in the making as opposed to merely a caddie. “Yes, his swing was all his own, but he had this good rhythm, a lovely flow to his game,” said the former official, who just happened to be in Crans for the week. He added that nothing had changed, with the same applying to Jiménez’s courteous manner.
Heading the right way: Jiménez describes Fanling (opposite) as one of his favourite courses on the European Tour schedule; unusually, the Spaniard was an assistant captain at the Ryder Cup (this page) before he had ever played in it HK Golfer・DEC 2011
At this year’s Open Championshp, the Jiménez daily warm-up routine – he swivels the clubs around his body like some circus performer – went out on the internet and became a YouTube sensation.
If the hat fits: Jiménez tries on a Fanling caddie's headgear during the 2005 Pro Am 42
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team room. Jiménez, rather than have his head hammered by drums, prefers to get carried away with a good Spanish aria or classical guitar. I n cont ra st to Fa ldo, Mont gomer ie understood the Spaniard. Over the years, the Scot has come to view him as a tour treasure, a force for the good and the best of team men. “He was super in the team room,” recalls Monty. “He was always setting off smoke alarms with his cigars, hugging everyone and gesticulating wildly to get his point across. For Monty, one of the key moments of the match had been when news came over the walkie-talkie – Garcia was the man delivering it – that Jiménez had chipped in at the eighth against Bubba Watson. “Jiménez chips in, Jiménez chips in”, came the cry. Then one up, Jiménez, who had earlier bagged a fourball victory in tandem with Peter Hanson, went on to win by 4&3. It was his first singles point in the Ryder Cup and it could
not have come at a more opportune moment. Indeed, it was the last point Europe would win before Graeme McDowell, down at the bottom of the line-up, succeeded in fending off Hunter Mahan to give Europe their nail-biting triumph. At this year’s Open Championshp, the Jiménez daily warm-up routine – he swivels the clubs around his body like some circus performer – went out on the internet and became a YouTube sensation. The player was also in the news for his scoring, starting the week with a 66 which left him just a shot behind Thomas Bjørn and Tom Lewis. When he came for his press conference, there were all those gesticulations Monty talks about, coupled with a more than usual jumbling of words. “It doesn’t matter,” he began, “what your age is to be a good sportsman. On a links, you can see all the years, any age can be around the leader board. Just experience, just timing, just patience is something that age gives to you, no?" The interview over, this great character set off to the exhibition shop to stock up on logoed Open shirts for his children before heading back to his hotel for a glass of his favourite Rioja. As he left, he paused to deliver the memorable reminder, “There is more to life than golfing the ball.” HKGOLFER.COM
Satisfied Spaniard: Jiménez clinched his second win in Hong Kong following Robert Karlsson's final-hole meltdown in 2007
Six of the Best The last six editions of the UBS Hong Kong Open have provided more than their fair share of thrills and drama. Alex Jenkins looks back and recounts the highlights
2005: Monty Gifted Title
The first Hong Kong Open in the UBS sponsorship era started as it had finished with Omega the year before – with a another final-hole collapse by James Kingston. A 64 on Saturday had propelled the likeable South African into contention, and when overnight leader Simon Yates – who had a brilliant 61 in the third round – stumbled early, Kingston found himself in sole possession of the lead. Standing on the final tee with a one-stroke advantage over the newly-installed European number one Colin Montgomerie, Kingston was determined not to repeat his mistake from the year before where he hit his ball left with a threewood. He didn't. Taking a two-iron, the journeyman pushed his tee shot deep into the trees on the right. A chip back to the fairway was followed by an under-cooked wedge which spun off the front of the green. With the spectators expecting him to get up and down from a relatively straightforward position (and therefore extend the tournament into extra holes), Kingston semi-duffed his chip to 10 feet and then missed the putt. A huge groan reverberated around Fanling and Monty was the winner. A teary-eyed Kingston told the assembled press: "I just messed up again for the second straight year. It's obviously disappointing with the way I finished but that's golf. I was just so nervous." Thrill Factor: 8/10
2006: Lara Hangs On
A final-round 69 earned Spain's Jose Manuel Lara his first European Tour victory, but he had to fight to the bitter end as unknown Juvic Pagunsan put in a remarkable performance to push him all the way Lara, who netted US$330,000 for the win, enjoyed a three-stroke lead early in the round, but Pagunsan fought back gamely to take the lead with a birdie at the 14th. Smiling and laughing the whole way round, Pagunsan became an instant hit with the Fanling galleries, who thought they were witnessing the most unlikely winner in the tournament's history. Sadly for Pagunsan, who featured prominently at the Barclays Singapore Open in November, it wasn't to be. A bogey by the Filipino at the 16th – a hole Lara birdie – took him out of the lead and the Spaniard was able to cling on by the narrowest of margins with two solid pars to end. "Juvic is a better player than I thought, especially on the greens. He putted so well," said Valencia-born Lara. "I think I was too confident but I got my chance 44
HK Golfer・DEC 2011
on the 16th and that gave me the trophy. But it's been a really tough day." Asked why he looked so happy and relaxed during the final round, even after he had lost the lead, Pagunsan replied simply, "I always smile for the crowd; I don't want to be sad." Thrill Factor: 8/10
2007: Miguel Makes it Two
The 18th hole strikes again as Miguel Angel Jiménez claimed his second Hong Kong Open title after both he and playing partner Robert Karlsson both made a hash of Fanling's famous closer in front of record galleries. With the pair tied the lead, Jiménez found the left side of the putting surface with his approach, while Karlsson – who had lead the tournament by four with only seven holes to play – came up short with his second. Then disaster. The tall Swede, one of the most consistent performers on the European Tour that year, fluffed his chip into the bank in front of the green before pitching up close to the hole. Jiménez, who had putted down to within six feet of the hole, then yanked his putt for victory wide of the cup. With a five-foot putt to force a play-off, Karlsson then managed to stab his own effort wide of the target and a stunned Jiménez became the first multiple winner since Frank Phillips in 1978. "It's very nice to win the tournament again, but I feel for Robert and the way he finished," said Jiménez, who had a trademark cigar wedged firmly into the side of his mouth. "He played so good all week and then ... it's not the best way to finish." It wasn't the prettiest end to a tournament but the 2007 edition was certainly not short of drama. Thrill Factor: 8.5/10 HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・DEC 2011
2008: The Greatest Ever
Anniversary spectacle: The 50th edition of the championship will live long in the memory, thanks to Lin Wen-tang's amazing recovery (top left) on the first play-off hole and Jason Hak's record breaking achievement in becoming the youngest player in history to make the halfway cut at a European Tour event (top right) 46
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The 50th anniversary tournament surely ranks as one of the greatest European Tour events of all time, but the fun started long before eventual champion Lin Wen-tang, Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari reached the closing stages. First there was Jason Hak, the 14-year-old amateur from Hong Kong who became the youngest player in European Tour history to make the cut. He celebrated making the weekend action by upstaging Jose Maria Olazábal – his playing partner in the final round – by outscoring the legendary Spaniard, 68 to 69. Then there was John Daly, who kept the driver in the bag and blitzed his way to a stellar 62 on Sunday. But what made this championship was the play-off, which saw Lin become the first Asian player to win the title since Kang Wook-soon in 1998. After pulling his drive into trouble on the first extra hole, Lin, with his opponents safely in the fairway, looked dead and buried. With nothing to lose, the Taiwanese, a regular on the Asian Tour, pulled out a short iron and fired his approach through the foliage, over the greenside bunker to within four feet of the cup. It was nothing short of miraculous, but the drama didn't end there. McIlroy, who at the time was still without a professional tournament victory to his credit, pitched brilliantly to within tap-in distance, and after Molinari narrowly missed his
own 10-footer for birdie and Lin holed out, the play-off was down to two. Standing on the 18th tee for the third time of the afternoon, it was McIlroy's turn to find trouble. Using his hybrid, his drive bounced off the Out of Bounds fence that lines the left side of the hole and finished in a horrible position at the bottom of a tree, not far from where Lin had made his great escape. Buoyed by his good fortune, Lin struck what looked to be a winning drive down the middle of the fairway. But then it was McIlroy’s turn to produce some magic. With 118 yards to go, but with no sight of the pin, the 19-year-old from Northern Ireland snap-hooked a gap-wedge loaded with spin that somehow caught the back of the green and stopped within 12 feet of the flag. Highfiving his caddie, the Irishman was justifiably delighted – but only for a moment, because Lin then pulled off another gem, firing his own wedge to within inches for a cast-iron birdie. Whipping his cap off to the roar of the crowds, it was this shot, rather than his previous miracle approach that showed his sheer determination to win. Up at the green, McIlroy faced a ghastly birdie putt: lighting quick, downhill and with significant left-to-right break. Perhaps not surprisingly, his effort sailed past, and after knocking it in for par the stage was set for Lin, 50 years after Mr Lu had won the inaugural championship, to tap his in for the greatest of victories. Thrill Factor: 10/10 HKGOLFER.COM
runners-up Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari showed their love of Fanling with another brilliant weekend charge. Opening with rounds of 66 and 68, McIlroy went 65-64 over the final two days, but still ended two shots shy of Gregory Bourdy, whose composure down the closing stretch was simply magnificent. Although much was made of a missed three-footer by McIlroy on the 17th green in the final round, Bordeaux-born Bourdy was unflappable throughout, and with a fourround total of 261 (19-under-par) was a worthy champion. McIlroy, who finished second, one shot ahead of Molinari in third, said, "My goal this week was to win the UBS Hong Kong Open and I've just come up short again, for the second year in a row. But I gave it my best shot and that is all I can do." Bourdy by contrast was delighted and after being showered with champagne on the final green by his compatriots Raphael Jacquelin and Jean-Francois Lucquin said, "It's great. I had a fantastic week. It's my best golf week, best golf today. I played very consistent, missed a few putts at the start of the round but I stayed confident. Simply amazing." Thrill Factor: 8/10
2010: Sensational Scoring
2009: Greg Grinds it Out Winning formula: Gregory Bourdy (top) held off Rory McIlroy for the biggest win of his life in 2009, while Ian Poulter made only two bogeys all week in his victory last year 48
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The 2009 tournament boasted one of the strongest f ields ever assembled in Hong Kong Open history, but it was a little-known French ma n who wa l ked away wit h t he silverware. While tournament drawcards Lee Westwood, YE Yang, Asia’s first major champion, Mark O’Meara and Rory Sabbatini failed to mount a serious challenge during the event, 2008
Last year's championship was another classic, with Ian Poulter sealing his 10th European Tour title with a tournament record total of 258 (22-under-par). But the Englishman was made to work every inch of the way. Poulter had a decidedly hot putter to thank after taking the second round lead with a jawdropping 10-under-par 60. Consistently hitting the ball to the centre of the small Fanling greens, the 34-year-old was rolling in 10-15-footers with amazing regularity. But come the final round and Poulter, who had followed up with a 64 in the third round, was having to fend off the challenges mounted firstly by former winner Simon Dyson and then Italian teenage phenomenon Matteo Manassero, who fought his way right back into the tournament with a magnificent 62. Rory McIlroy, who had fired the low round on day one with a 63, was in the hunt yet again, but faded over the closing holes. Poulter, who was playing with Graeme McDowell in the f inal group, made the tournament his own with an assured stretch of holes on the back nine, and could afford to bogey the last hole to claim the win by the slimmest of margins. For the record, Poulter made only two bogeys during the entire event, which highlights how unusually friendly the scoring conditions were at Fanling that week. Thrill Factor: 8.5/10 HKGOLFER.COM
Determined to Succeed
David Cunningham III explains why 18-year-old Matteo Manassero has every chance of winning his first UBS Hong Kong Open title this time around Man on a Mission: Manassero's game is ideally suited to the Composite Course at Fanling
ast year I had a chance to talk with Manassero after his third round. The timing wasn't ideal; the Italian had just missed a six-foot birdie putt on the last hole to leave himself in a tie for eighth heading into the final day's play. He had shot a tidy 67 but having never met Manassero before, I was a little hesitant in approaching him for an interview. If he'd made the putt it wouldn't have been an issue; but having walked away with only a par there was every chance he'd be in a foul mood. As it happens, I needn't have worried. I caught Manassero's attention just as he was leaving the scoring tent located behind the 18th green of the Old Course. He didn't appear to be especially annoyed, but by the same token he wasn't exactly grinning from ear to ear. Indeed it was difficult to gauge his emotions at all. I threw caution to the wind and I decided to ask him for a few minutes of his time. He agreed – indeed he seemed happy to do so – and I walked away, five minutes or so later, having formed a new impression of the precocious 17-year-old. He seemed to me the most determined professional I had ever met. It was of no surprise to me when he blitzed the course the very next day, taking advantage of ideal scoring conditions to card a brilliant 62. He might not have won, but his final-round charge proved that he is never one to underestimate, especially at Fanling which places less of an emphasis on power hitting than any other layout on tour. Of all the shots played at last year's tournament, it was Manassero's second to the par-five 13th (now the 12th) in the final round that I remember best. One of the shorter hitters in the field, Manassero had put himself within range of the green and proceeded to hit a beautiful high fade with a fairway wood that came 50
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to rest within 10 feet of the hole. He knocked in the eagle putt with authority. Fol low i n g h i s s t ron g showing in Hong Kong, Manassero won his second European Tour title at the Maybank Malaysian Open in April. And although he hasn't had a victory since t he yout h f u l Ita l ia n ha s made severa l sign i f ica nt improvements to his game that will surely make him a strong contender once again at the Hong Kong Golf Club. Manassero has added an extra five yards on average to his drives compared to last year without any serious loss of accuracy. Having shorter shots into the greens is always an advantage, and with his stunning iron play, Manassero will really be able to capitalize. In truth, he already is. His greens-inregulations stats are up on 12 months ago, while he is also taking less putts per green than ever before. Hitting more greens and holing more putts is what every player – weekend hacker to fullblown tour pro – strives for. And for Manassero, who was already a brilliant reader of greens before this season, this could reap him yet more gold at Fanling, where judging the notoriously tricky putting surfaces is an art in itself. Improved stats are all well and good, but it could well be Manassero's affinity with the Composite Course that proves just as important. The old saying "horses for courses" is just as relevant in golf as it is on the track. There are countless examples where an out-of-form pro has turned up at a course where he's had previous success and gone out and produced unexpected magic. Manassero's game is in solid – if not spectacular – shape at the moment, but the familiar surroundings of the Hong Kong Golf Club, combined with that near unparalleled determination means he'll almost certainly play a significant role at this year's championship. HKGOLFER.COM
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Making his second appearance at the UBS Hong Kong Open, Shinichi Mizuno is full of confidence following a breakthrough season, writes Alex Jenkins
ast year's Hong Kong Open was highlighted not only by Ian Poulter's terrific performance in holding off a world-class field to win the title, but also by the play of Hong Kong's Shinichi Mizuno, the 16-year-old amateur who was making his debut in the championship. Mizuno, who had made it through the rigours of the qualifying tournament to earn his spot at Fanling, carded solid rounds of 73 and 70. And although those scores meant he narrowly missed out on making the weekend action, he'll get another chance this year having once again made into the field. Amateurs making headlines at the UBS Hong Kong Open has been one of the tournament's recurring themes. At the 2008 edition, Tsim Sha Tsui-born Jason Hak became the youngest player in the history of the European Tour to make the cut when he achieved the feat at the tender age of 14. And just to prove to everyone that that performance wasn't a one off, Hak went out and did exactly the same thing a year later, his second-round 67 thrilling the large galleries at the Hong Kong Golf Club. An energised Mizuno, who booked his UBS Hong Kong Open place thanks to an impressive win at the Hong Kong Close Amateur Championship earlier this year, will be hoping he can match the accomplishments of his international teammate. "I think my expectations have changed slightly from last year," said the now 17-year-old Mizuno, who attends West Island School. "This year my goal is to definitely make the cut and I really want to be the lowest amateur. My game has improved greatly in the last 12 months as well and I am anxious to see Weekend target: how I will perform at this high a level. Making the cut is "Last year I was a little overwhelmed seeing people like Rory Mizuno's goal McIlroy and Graeme McDowell on the practice putting green at the same time as me. But once the golf started I was OK and one of the highlights of the week for me was playing alongside Anthony Kang standings, a position matched by his team in the main event, which saw Hong Kong – also when he shot 61 in the second round." Mizuno, who will be joined at Fanling by fellow amateurs Ron Totton – who represented by Hak, Liu Lok-tin and Terrence made it through the qualifying tournament at the Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau in Ng – narrowly lose out to Singapore. That experience, says National Coach Brad October – and Hong Kong Amateur Open champion Huang Yongle of China, Schadewitz, will stand Mizuno in good stead. has enjoyed a superb season. "Over the last year he has a lot more After his breakthrough win over the Lunar New Year holiday, the Nagoyaborn Mizuno, who only took up golf five years ago, claimed the Hong Kong experience playing bigger events and is now Junior Close title and performed admirably for Hong Kong at the Asia Pacific more used to being in a host of pressure situations," said Schadewitz. "The more times Amateur Golf Team Championship (the Nomura Cup) in Fiji. But it was at the 51st Putra Cup in September, which Hong Kong hosted for you are in those situations the easier it is. Right now though, Shinichi is balancing his golf with the first time since 2002, where Mizuno really excelled. Held at the scenic Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club, Mizuno spearheaded his studies and being a full-time student. But he a brilliant local challenge for the Southeast Asia Amateur team title, which Hong has a pure golf swing and certainly has enough Kong had not won since the inaugural staging of the tournament in 1961. Firing game to be competitive. This should be another a superb 68 in the final round, Mizuno finished in second place in the individual great experience for him." 52
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hk seniors open
Evans Continues Australian Dominance
2007 champion Alan Evans claims second Hong Kong title at November's rain-shortened Seniors Open
erhaps inspired by his home club's hosting of the Presidents Cup, Royal Melbourne member Alan Evans made it five wins in a row for Australians at the Hong Kong Seniors Open Amateur Championship in early November. Evans, who also won the title in 2007, fired rounds of 72 and 75 over the Old Course at Fanling to finish six shots head of Hong Kong's Joe Pethes in second place. Tatsuo Asai, of Canada, finished third, a further three shots adrift. Anthony Gresham (2008) and Stefan Albinski (2009 and 2010) are the other Australian winners of the tournament in recent times. "I always enjoy coming to Hong Kong – and it's a very nice feeling to win the title again," said Evans, who was excited about returning to Royal Melbourne and watching the Greg Normancaptained International side take on Fred Couples' American team the following week.
Joe Pethes finished strongly to place second Hong Kong Seniors Close champion Chu Koon-ching earned a share of sixth
Double delight: Evans, one of Australia's most consistent senior golfers, now has two Hong Kong titles to his credit, following victories in 2007 and 2011
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After the first day's play was cancelled due to heavy rain, Evans' solid opening one-over-par effort gave him a three-shot margin over Pethes, a three-time winner of the Hong Kong Seniors Amateur Close Championship, heading into the final round. And despite dropping a shot at the short par-four first hole, the tall Australian was rarely troubled on the last day, carding two birdies on the front nine which allowed him to ease to victory down the closing stretch. "It wasn't that easy out there, " said the long-hitting Australian. "Joe was playing well, especially on the front nine, but I did enough to hold on. I hope to return next year and defend my title." Evans also praised the Hong Kong Golf Club greenkeepers for their preparation of the course following nearly four inches of rain. "The golf course staff did a fantastic job in getting the playing surfaces back into excellent condition after the downpours of the first round. The course played great in the next couple of days. They deserve a lot of credit." Pethes, with rounds of 75 and 76, scooped the Alan Sutcliffe Salver for finishing as the top Hong Kong player and also earned a berth in the 1010 Golf Challenge Grand Final to be played in April. In the four age divisions, Robin Briars, who finished fourth overall, claimed the 55-59 age title; Asai won the 60-64 bracket, while Evans earned the 65-69 crown in addition to the main prize. In the "super seniors" division for those aged 70 and over, another Australian, Philip Billings, prevailed by following up a first-round 84 with an impressive 76.—Alex Jenkins
Final Standings 1
Tomas Joson III
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HK Strong at Singapore Senior Championship Hong Kong Golf Club members Joe Pethes and Terry Collins (pictured) excelled at the 22nd Singapore Open Senior Amateur Championship, which was played at the Orchid Country Club at the end of October. The duo, both regular Hong Kong representatives at international level, claimed the top two spots in the 65-69 age division. Pethes, who finished second at November's Hong Kong Seniors Open Amateur Championship, fired rounds of 79, 75 and 76 for a three-round total of 230 to also earn a share of fourth place in the overall event. Collins' score of 234 earned him a share of 10th. The tournament was won by India's Lakshman Singh on 226. The 2012 edition of the championship will be played at Tanah Merah Country Club.
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VPAR to Sponsor Pairs Tournament The annual Pairs Tournament, to be played on 16 December at Discovery Bay Golf Club, will be sponsored this year by VPAR, the world's most advanced live scoring platform. VPAR, which was launched in Hong Kong in March 2011, enables tournament players to input their scores and view the competition leader board in real time via a lightweight mobile device (pictured). In fact, anyone with an internet connection can keep tabs on the state of play by logging into VPAR's easy-touse tournament website. VPAR has already proved a hit with tournament organisers in the region, with the system being used at a number of corporate golf days in Hong Kong and further afield. "We are very pleased to be bringing the fun and excitement of VPAR to the popular HKGA Pairs event. I'm sure all the players will enjoy the experience of the live leader board as they play," said Tim Orgill of VPAR Asia. To view VPAR's live scoring of the competition log on to igm.vpar-golf.com/live/pairs2011. To learn more about VPAR visit vpar-golf.com or call (852) 2541 7452. Iceland-based JS Watch Co., makers of luxury handmade timepieces, have also confirmed their support of the 18-hole event as an associate sponsor. For more information about JS Watch visit jswatch.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proud sponsors of the EFG Bank Hong Kong Golf Association Junior Golf Programme.
Macau Amateur Dates Announced The Golf Association of Macau has announced that the Men's Open Amateur Championship will take place from 14-15 December at the scenic Macau Golf & Country Club on Colane (pictured). The popular 36-hole tournament, which has seen a number of Hong Kong golfers emerge victorious in recent times, is restricted to those with a official handicap of 18 or less, with lower handicappers receiving priority. Tournament entry fee is HK$1,200, which includes a practice round on Wednesday 13 December. Entries and enquiries should be directed to the Golf Association of Macau. Contact: macaugolfassociation@ yahoo.com; (853) 2883 1555. Entry deadline: 3 December. 56
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Change is in the Air
HK Golfer Events
Dr Brian Choa, HKGA Chairman of Rules and Decisions, explains the two major Rules changes that go into effect on 1 January
i th the imminent arrival of an Olympic year, a new edition of the Rules of Golf has appeared. There are two major changes that impact all golfers and several minor ones that are more the concern of officials. In order to keep this article compact and to avoid distracting readers, here I shall concentrate on the two major changes.
1) Rule 18-2b (Ball Moving After Address)
Up until now, a player is deemed to have addressed the ball only when he has completed his stance and grounded the club either in front of or behind the ball. Because grounding of the club is not permitted in a hazard (bunker or water hazard) the player has addressed the ball when he has completed his stance. In the new definition, the stance has been taken out of it. This means that the ball is never addressed in a hazard. Elsewhere, the ball is addressed when the player has grounded the club in front of or behind the ball, regardless of whether or not he has taken his stance. This is significant. For instance, if a player is in a bunker and the ball moves after he or she has taken their stance the player is not automatically deemed to have caused it to move under Rule 18-2b. Elsewhere, the player is still penalised for the ball moving after address – but a new clause in the Rule states that there is no penalty if it is known or virtually certain that something else (most typically wind) moved the ball. This happens with some regularity on fast greens at windblown courses, like those found at the Open Championship.
played from that bunker or a similar bunker provided that the raking is for the purpose of caring for the course. The other proviso it that the line of play, the lie of the ball and the area of intended swing are not improved by the raking process; in other words, Rule 13-2 must not be breached. A related Decision (Decision 13-4/9) also warns that if a player does this too often or too vigorously, especially in an area close to his ball in the bunker, he can still be penalised under Rule 13-4 for testing the sand. While this is a welcome change to the Rule that avoids players being penalised in most cases for a harmless action to tidy up a bunker, we need to be aware that it does not give us an unrestricted right to rake a bunker while our golf ball is still in it.
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2) Rule 13-4, Exception 2 (Ball in Hazard; Prohibitive Actions)
This is the most liberal change to this Rule since the Rule for bunkers was first written in 1773. The player, or his caddie, is no longer penalised for raking a bunker before a shot is
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HK Golfer・DEC 2011
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Clinical Kaymer Brilliant German produces a wonder round to best a world-class field and scoop his first WGC title at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, writes Tim Maitland
artin Kaymer ended the run of first-time winners taking home the sport’s top trophies and lifted himself above the crowd when he won the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai early November. Shooting a record low winning round for the World Golf Championships, the German’s nine birdies in his last 12 holes propelled him over a leader board packed with recent WGC and major winners and past overnight leader Fredrik Jacobson to a nine-under-par 63 final round and a three-shot victory. “To shoot 63 in a final round is always great, but on a golf course like this and in a World Golf Championships is obviously special," said the 26-year-old,
WGC-HSBC Champions Final Standings 1
Fast finisher: Kaymer completed the biggest comeback in WGC history with his finalround 63 in Shanghai 60
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Bo Van Pelt
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who, having won the 2010 PGA Championship becomes the first of golf’s new breed to follow up his first big breakthrough win with another top-level victory. "The way I played was different. It was really special. I can’t remember a day when I played golf like this. My putting was outstanding,” Kaymer’s brilliant late charge was enough to better a field that contained a host of contenders all vying to be the game's dominant player. While Tiger Woods was conspicuous by his absence (the now-ranked number 55 in the world failed to qualify for the tournament for the very first time) and Luke Donald withdrew to be at the birth of his second daughter, Rory McIlroy and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel finished tied for fourth along with Paul Casey, while 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell came third. “If Martin Kaymer had not skipped the last couple of holes, we might all have had a chance,” joked the Northern Irishman, who got to see some of Kaymer’s fireworks from the group behind. “He's an unbelievable frontrunner; when he gets a sniff of a win he's pretty prolific and very clinical when it comes to finishing. Hats off to him! He's a classy player and he was impossible to catch out there.” Casey, marking a return to form after a season plagued by a toe problem, had initially threatened to be the one making a winning charge by carding five early birdies. He was 62
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slowed by the return of a swing fault caused by the injury but had the best seat in the house playing in the winner’s group. “He didn't flinch. It was very good stuff from him," said Casey. "[I had a] front row seat watching Martin Kaymer ... a brilliant performance.” In the long term, perhaps just as impressive was the achievement of relatively unknown local player Zhang Xinjun beating the previous record for the highest finish by a Chinese player at the HSBC Champions. A professional for only a year, the 24-year old from the Terracotta Warrior city of Xian tied for 13th alongside Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter thanks largely to an eight-under-par 64 in the third round. The previous best finishes were 24th by Liang Wenchong in 2008 and 25th for Zhang Lianwei three years earlier. “He played very solid golf,” declared Kaymer of the former security guard. “He's a long hitter. His putting is brilliant, so I can see him playing well in the future. I had never heard of him before, but you've got to watch out, there are more players coming from Asia and he's probably one of the better ones,” he added. For Kaymer, his victory shone a different light on a year that started with a stunning v ic tor y at t he A bu Dhabi HSBC G ol f Championship in January. The German said
the pressure of becoming world number one in February – and not swing changes to prepare for a challenge at Augusta – was responsible for a relative slump, but that completing a sponsor’s double has turned an okay season into a good one. “I started off with my HSBC win in Abu Dhabi and I’ve finished my year by winning the tournament in Shanghai. I obviously really like the HSBC tournaments!”
Fine China (clockwise from top): Kaymer and his caddie Christian Donald (brother of Luke) celebrate yet another holed putt on Sunday; McDowell enjoyed a solid week; homegrown talent Zhang Xinjun wowed the galleries with his gutsy display; Sweden's Jacobson earned nearly half a million Euro for his second-place finish
Europe’s Golden Age The results from Shanghai underscored what has become abundantly clear over the past 12 months: that European players and those who ply their trade on the European Tour are the dominant force in the game today. In the last two years three Northern Irishmen –McDowell, McIlroy and Darren Clarke – have claimed their first majors along with Kaymer. Tour members Louis Oosthuizen (2010 Open) and Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters) have done likewise for South Africa. England’s Luke Donald, Kaymer (8 weeks) and Lee Westwood (22 weeks) have each held the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking since Woods relinquished his numero uno status in November 2010. Donald, fellow Englishman Ian Poulter (respectively, the 2011 and 2010 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship winners) and last year's HSBC Champions titleholder Francesco Molinari have all claimed their first WGC titles along with the young German. The facts are easier to relay than the reasons, although Westwood argues that the debate doesn’t have to be complex. “We’re just very good at the moment. There’s no other reason than that. You don’t need another reason other than that. I just think European golf is really strong at the moment," said Westwood, a hero for Europe at the last Ryder Cup. "We’ve got a lot of good players, so if you play well you’re going to win. A lot of the players at the moment have been around a while, but also a lot of the good young players have just come through and are getting comfortable too. “It’s not something I really think about too much; I’m getting bored talking about it to be honest,” he added matter-of-factly. Not everyone finds the discussion so tedious. Alvaro Quiros, the flamboyant 28-year-old Spaniard whose Dubai Desert Classic triumph
in February guaranteed his place in the field for Shanghai, is far more excited about the situation. “I think it’s an amazing time, because we’re playing great golf courses and great events with the best players of both of the main tours," said Quiros, one of the longest drivers in the game. "Obviously European golf is in a great moment and maybe the only time where European and American golf has been at the same level. We are in different stages right now. It’s like soccer in Spain. Barcelona is the best team in the world by far, but five years ago it was Real Madrid – by far too." –Tim Maitland
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opportunities. Over the years, the HSBC Champions has allowed us to connect with customers, colleagues and communities. This is why we continue to invest in supporting this sport and see this as a key element of our overall marketing programme. Both golf and rugby sevens will debut at the 2016 Olympics and I’m sure that many of the players and teams we are seeing today will be aspiring to participate in the Olympic games five years from now. Knowing that HSBC may have played even a small part in their ongoing and future success certainly makes me proud and makes it worthwhile.
The Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Asia-Pacific talks exclusively to HK Golfer about the global banking and financial service group's commitment to the development of golf in the region
irstly, your thoughts on the recent HSBC Champions, which saw Martin Kaymer record a remarkable victory thanks to a brilliant 63 in the final round . Was the 2011 edition of the event the best ever? It was certainly another great competition. It’s fantastic that we’ve had six winners from six countries since we launched this tournament – all well-deserved victories. Each year is different – we see some of the world’s best golfers at their finest; you never know what to expect. As a devotee of the sport, I find most exciting the fact that the HSBC Champions is showcasing a new breed of young, talented players who will doubtless play their part in the future of golf. Martin Kaymer’s victory is a great example – he started the year winning the HSBC tournament in Abu Dhabi and capped the year winning ‘Asia’s Major’ in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai. He’s only 26 years old and has a very exciting career ahead of him. It was great watching him and I’m sure we’ll all be following his career closely. Of all the sporting and cultural events that HSBC has supported in recent times, where does the HSBC Champions rank in terms of importance? Without doubt, the HSBC Champions is one of our most important sponsorships in Asia. As Asia’s first World Golf Championship (WGC) tournament, it’s attracted the world’s most-renowned players and has become a much-anticipated event in the sports calendar. It has also helped give support to the HSBC brand, not just in terms of awareness, but in providing a focus for customer relationships and employee engagement. We’ve also been able to create supporting events such as the HSBC Charity Golf Day in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia – allowing us to raise funds for primary education in partnership with UNICEF. We were fortunate to have one of the world's top female golfers, Michelle Wie, join us in Hong Kong this year for the charity golf day to help promote education for disadvantaged children in Asia. What first attracted HSBC to essentially create from scratch and sponsor a worldclass tournament in mainland China? 64
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"Golf is a fast-growing sport not only in China but across Asia. And as we move closer to 2016, when golf makes its debut as an Olympic sport, we expect greater interest and enthusiasm for the game in this part of the world." Golf is a fast-growing sport not only in China but across Asia. And as we move closer to 2016, when golf makes its debut as an Olympic sport, we expect greater interest and enthusiasm for the game in this part of the world. We are seeing the emergence of successful Chinese and Asian players in the global golf arena, and we are finding that there is room to grow the sport at all levels – starting from the grassroots. Although the HSBC Champions event is only held once a year, we have support programmes to help develop young, aspiring Chinese golfers all year round. We are proud sponsors of the China National Junior team, the HSBC China Junior Open and the HSBC National Junior Golf Championship. We have a balanced, long-term interest in the development of this sport in China.
With UBS pulling out after this year's event, the title sponsorship of the Hong Kong Open is available from 2012. With HSBC already sponsoring the Champions tournament in Shanghai and an LPGA event in Singapore, could Hong Kong's largest bank make it a clean sweep of golf events in Asian financial hubs and sponsor Hong Kong's national Open too? I can’t predict the future! What I can say is that our commitment to growing the game of golf at all levels, in parts of Asia where it will make the most impact, is undiminished. We’ve made great strides with our HSBC Champions sponsorship which has opened doors to other opportunities to grow the sport especially among the youth through grassroots programmes, which is one of the most rewarding aspects of what we do with our sponsorships.
Wong presents Martin Kaymer with the WGCHSBC Champions trophy - the Old Tom Morris Cup
Wong presents a cheque to UNICEF at the HSBC Charity Golf Day in October. Also in attendence: Michelle Wie and Aaron Kwok
What do you see as the main benefits to HSBC as a result of golf sponsorship, as opposed to say rugby which HSBC is also heavily involved in? Both golf and rugby share our values of integrity and fair play. Golf in particular is a great fit with HSBC because it is a sport which is global and there are plenty of local HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・DEC 2011
From Sea to Sky
Scotland has the history, the United States has the familiarity – the Canadian province of British Columbia has the scenery, writes Andrew Marshall
A Player’s Guide
Photography by Paul Marshall
t was a sunny mid-September morning in British Columbia. At precisely 8:30am the Whistler Mountaineer chugged gently out of North Vancouver railyard, on its daily run to the alpine resort of Whistler, three-hours and 120-kilometres away, along a track with more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie novel. With our golf clubs stored safely on board we settled down in the firstclass Glacier Dome car – all white linens, waiter service and unobstructed views, and toasted the trip with glasses of Okanagan bubbly while tucking into hearty cheese omelettes with Canadian back bacon. It was a tasty beginning to a week-long British Columbia golf journey by trains, ferries and automobiles, teeing it up on some of the best tracks around Whistler, Vancouver Island and Vancouver.
The course that Jack built: the sensationally appealing Nicklaus North in Whistler 66
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Club and 30 minutes drive north at Pemberton lies Bob Cupp’s Big Sky Golf & Country Club, which lies at the foot of the soaring granite outcrop of Mount Currie. Alas, we only had time for two of the quartet – Nicklaus North and Chateau Whistler. Distinctly different from the other Whistler golf properties, the latter is carved from the side of Blackcomb Mountain with dramatic elevation changes of over 400 feet. Most people playing here opt to take a cart; we, being British, eschewed motorised help and set off on foot. “Are you sure you are up for it guys,” said the starter with a look on his face as though we planned to walk blindfolded across a minefield. Making things easier were the snazzy state-ofthe-art pull trolleys that wouldn’t look out of place in the gardening section of a DIY store – sporting huge mountain bike wheels and a handy metal basket for odds and ends. Chateau Whistler is a heart-pumping golf workout not to be missed, marching along pristine fairways that climb and plummet, through massive granite outcroppings, glacier-fed creeks and majestic centuries-old Douglas firs.
Mountain marvels: all aboard the Whistler Mountaineer (top); the course at Chateau Whistler (right), a Trent Jones Jr classic carved out of Blackcomb mountain 68
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Since its launch in May 2006, the Whistler Mountaineer has carried tens of thousands of passengers along this scenic strip that cuts through canyons and past snow-capped mountains to the southern edge of Whistler. We enjoyed spectacular views of Vancouver and as the early morning mist slowly lifted off Howe Sound (the most southerly fjord and glacially carved inlet in North America), the train trundled on through pine forests, past Horseshoe Bay and climbed up alongside the serpentine Sea-to-Sky Highway. After breakfast, we joined some of the other passengers in the historic Henry Pickering 1914 observation car. Fellow golfers were on board, easily spotted by their upturned baseball caps featuring golf equipment logos. The slow clackclack rumbling of the rails gave way to an eerie screech of metal as the train turned corners and entered tunnels. As we reached the trestle bridge at Cheakamus Canyon the train slowed to a snail’s pace while passengers angled through the open windows eager for a photo of a cascade tumbling into the pale-turquoise waters below.
There are precious few layouts that can generate a genuine sense of awe for several holes at a stretch. Exceedingly rare is a course that can sustain the feeling for an entire round. Furry Creek is such a place.
The Bear Essentials
Surrounded by mountains on the shores of Whistler's Green Lake, the par-71 Nicklaus North is eminently playable from five sets of tees, and on the nine par-fours and four parfives, the water features, distinctive Nicklaus bunkering and landing areas are set up to invite players of all abilities to use drivers. Yet, for all the potential drama the long holes offer, it’s the five par-threes that will linger long in the memory, especially the 226-yard 17th, which is played to a peninsula green. Everything at Nicklaus North seems to revolve around bears – the black variety that inhabits the region. For starters, the pro shop is stuffed with
Ski & Golf
Whistler is consistently ranked the premier ski, snowboarding and mountain biking resort in North America, and the numbers speak for themselves: one vertical mile drop; two side-byside mountains connected by a cosmopolitan village; more than 200 trails; three glaciers; 38 lifts; and 16 alpine bowls. Whistler has gained even greater fame since hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, thanks in part to the completion of the Peak-to-Peak Gondola – a stunning 4.4 kilometre cable car crossing 415 metres above the valley floor that unites Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. In recent years, Whistler has gained a reputation for activities on the green stuff as much as the white, with four championship courses providing classic mountain golf. There’s Arnold Palmer’s first ever Canadian design at the Whistler Golf Club, which was the area’s first course built in 1983, the Golden Bear’s Nicklaus North Golf Course; Robert Trent Jones Jr’s mountainside Chateau Whistler Golf HKGOLFER.COM
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Natural high: (clockwise from top): the course at Bear Mountain, Vancouver; the signature 14th at Furry Creek and its peninsula green; a different kind of hazard to avoid 70
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enough Golden Bear gear to keep Jack Nicklaus clothed for a lifetime without visiting a laundry. “There’s definitely a few black bears in some of the wooded and marshy areas on the course, but they are usually harmless,” the guy at the desk informed us as we checked in for our round. “In fact one has been spotted out near the snack shack today.” When we reached the tee at the par-three 10th there was not a soul around and the snack shack was closed. Not a good sign. Bear reminders such as bear-shaped tee markers, bearproof litterbins and a ‘Bear Essentials’ sign (a guide to the habits of black bears) didn’t help the tenseness of the situation. After constantly looking over his shoulder and re-gripping his club more times than the Sergio Garcia of old, my photographer brother Paul proceeded to stiff a six-iron to two feet and his first birdie of the day; must have been all that adrenalin. For the remainder of the round we kept a close eye out for the local wildlife, but alas, the closest we came to a National Geographic moment was when we discovered what looked suspiciously like a pile of bear droppings next to the 14th green! After two days in Whistler we drove our hire car down picturesque Route 99, also known as the Sea to Sky Highway, towards Vancouver and a tee time at Furry Creek Golf & Country HKGOLFER.COM
Club –“British Columbia’s Most Scenic Golf Course” – where some of the scenes from the comedy golf movie Happy Gilmore were filmed. One glance from the first tee, with its striking 165-foot plunge towards the tranquil waters of Howe Sound and we quickly realised that we had arrived at a course like no other. There are precious few layouts that can generate a genuine sense of awe for several holes at a stretch. Exceedingly rare is a course that can sustain the feeling for an entire round. Furry Creek is such a place. One of the classics is the par-three fourteenth that dares you to drive over a beach littered with bleached driftwood logs to an emerald green jutting into the water. After munching on juicy ‘5-iron’ steak sandwiches washed down with a couple of Arnold Palmers (half lemonade and half iced tea) at the club’s grill we continued to Horseshoe Bay for the 95-minute ferry crossing to the port of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. BC Ferries is known for showcasing British Columbia’s spectacular scenery and proud maritime history and travelling this way is like a mini-cruise in itself. Nearby Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and has a fascinating history, which is preserved in the city’s many museums and heritage buildings. The picturesque Inner Harbour is the hub of downtown activity and bustles with kayaks, yachts, whale watching boats and floatplanes. Located 20 minutes away was our home for two nights, the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa – a master-planned community built around Vancouver Island’s first Jack and Steve Nicklaus co-designed golf course, the Mountain Course and the newer friendlier version of the original, the Valley Course. The resort offers a complete lifestyle experience combining the secluded luxury of a rural mountainside wellness resort with world-class golf. There’s no question of roughing it here, with sumptuous suites so spacious you need a map to find your way around. The following morning we joined Club Pro Steven MacPherson in tackling the Mountain Course, which bizarrely has 19 holes on the scorecard; with an extra par-three situated between the 14th green and the 15th tee with stunning views of Victoria. “It was Jack’s son Steve who suggested it, figuring it would make a fun hole for a friendly wager,” Steven told us on the tee of the lengthy opener. “When Bear Mountain opened in 2003 it was the first new course on the island in 12 years and it created a lot of interest in the region,” MacPherson continued. “On the official open day I had the pleasure of carrying Jack’s bag. He went straight to the ‘gold tees’ and boy did he hit the ball well that day”. HKGOLFER.COM
Everything about Bear Mountain is topend; two stunning forested mountainside designs, teeboxes pristine enough to eat off, fast undulating greens and thick US Openstyle greenside rough that will really test your lob wedge skills to the maximum. To assist all golfers, GPS-linked systems on each cart relay yardages to pins and hazards, and even allow
Vancouver is sassy, sophisticated and outdoorsy, a city with a cosmopolitan attitude offering superlative shopping, lavish dining, top-drawer theatre, funky districts, galleries, great nightlife and the beautiful Stanley Park – one thousand acres of greenery that hugs the downtown area and provides a playground or an oasis for everyone.
HK Golfer・DEC 2011
After a late afternoon ferry crossing from Swartz Bay to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, we arrived back in Vancouver, set against a stunning natural backdrop of mountains and ocean. This gateway to the Pacific Rim is known for its resident’s quality of life and was recently voted the best place to live by the Economic Intelligence Unit [there are certainly enough Hongkongers living in Vancouver to vouch for this]. Vancouver is sassy, sophisticated and outdoorsy, a city with a cosmopolitan attitude offering superlative shopping, lavish dining, top-drawer theatre, funky districts, galleries, great nightlife and the beautiful Stanley Park – one thousand acres of greenery that hugs the downtown area and provides a playground or an oasis for everyone. If you still have enough time and energy for teeing it up, other courses in the Vancouver area include: Northview Golf & Country Club featuring two Arnold Palmer championship courses (Canal and Ridge), Mayfair Lakes Golf & Country Club near the airport, a Lee Trevinodesigned public course at Swan-e-set Bay Resort & Country Club, and be greeted by the plusfoured-attired caddies at Westwood Plateau Golf & Country Club, which offers glorious views of Lower Vancouver from several holes. It had been a long way to come for six rounds in eight days, but as we packed away our
you to make lunch orders ready to pick-up before starting the back nine. The lobster sandwiches are highly recommended.
Water feature: the 17th green at Olympic View is framed by a 60ft waterfall; the dramatic Vancouver skyline, a sight many Hongkongers will be familar with 72
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A short drive from Bear Mountain is Olympic View Golf Club, another excellent Vancouver Island course. Here, it’s all about tranquillity, seclusion and nature, with the magnificence of the Olympic Mountains, soaring bald eagles, grazing deer and two waterfalls including a spectacular 60-footer tumbling behind the
TRIP PLANNER WHERE TO PLAY
Chateau Whistler Golf Club fairmontgolf.com/whistler Nicklaus North golfbc.com/courses/nicklaus_north Furry Creek golfbc.com/courses/furry_creek Bear Mountain: bearmountain.ca Olympic View: golfbc.com/courses/olympic_view Northview Golf & Country Club: northviewgolf.com
WHERE TO STAY
Whistler/Westin Resort & Spa westinwhistler.com Vancouver Island/Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa bearmountain.ca Vancouver/Georgian Court Hotel georgiancourthotelvancouver.com
Whistler Mountaineer rockymountaineer.com BC Ferries bcferries.com British Columbia Golf golfbc.com Vancouver Island Golf golfvancouverisland.ca Whistler Golf golfwhistler.com British Columbia Tourism britishcolumbia.travel
clubs for our trip back home, we were already discussing another British Columbia golf trip – with images of the stunning scenery, local wildlife and well-struck drives soaring towards a backdrop of forested mountain slopes etched firmly in our minds.
green of the par-four 17th – one of the most photographed holes in British Columbia. “Olympic View Golf Club was the first course in British Columbia that Tiger Woods played in 1994 in a US amateur event, and of course he won it,” said Jason Lowe, president of Golf Vancouver Island, as we enjoyed lunch in the clubhouse restaurant after our round. We also learnt from Lowe that if you make par or less on the 107-yard par-three 16th, you’re better than Tiger Woods, who bogeyed the hole two days in a row even though it’s rated the course’s easiest hole. HKGOLFER.COM
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Dual roles: Faldo on site at his latest course design project at Laguna Lang Co in Vietnam (below); a three-time Masters champion, the Englishman won't play competitively until the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield
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theory you'd like the world's number one to have a major title, but maybe for Luke this is the start of him becoming a major champion.
Recent Major Winners
There have been an amazing number of firsttime major winners. Phil [Mickelson] was the last multiple winner. In fact, over the last 15 majors it's been something like 12 first-time winners. I think sports need heroes. Look at tennis. They have three amazing players, plus an unlucky Scotsman [Andy Murray]. Of the last 27 Grand Slam finals, 26 have been won by either Federer, Nadal or Djorkovic.
The Long Putter
I've never had one in the bag competitively but I have tried it. I'm a traditionalist in the sense that it's called a golf swing, not a golf hinge. So I don't think you should be able to anchor it to your body. But it has lost its stigma of 20 years ago. Back then, if you went to the long putter it was a sign that you'd lost your nerve – or your mind! But now these kids, like Keegan Bradley, have been using them all their lives. It's here to stay. The R&A decided in the interest and enjoyment of the game to allow them.
I'd like the tour to have its own rulebook on equipment. You can't turn the clock back but you could say, for a tour pro, the driver is back to 300cc, not 460cc. It took them two years to work out that square grooves worked, when we [pros] knew that after two shots. When the ball came back with bits hanging off it – with a sixiron – that was the giveaway!
He won't be as dominant as he used to be. We talk about this all the time. He's not comfortable on the range, he's not comfortable on the golf course and he's probably not comfortable in his family life. He's certainly not comfortable in the business world. So a lot of things have changed rapidly for him in the last two years. He was outstanding at the Masters. He got into contention, he did his usual and he was the normal Tiger on Sunday morning. The interesting bit was when got to 10-under. He stopped at 10 and eight or so guys went past him. That's the difference. [Past Formula One champion Jackie Stewart] used to say: "I controlled the speed of the race. If I went fast, they went fast. If I went slower, they went slower." And that's what Tiger used to be – until he went 10 shots ahead. Everyone followed him
but now, these kids do their own thing. Also, in the last five years Tiger only had to take on one guy at a time. Now, and the Masters is the best example, there are eight to 10 guys who can have a go. That's the theme right now: anyone can and does win. Tiger can fend off one or two, but he can't fend off 10 guys. Look at the average age of the winners. It's under 30. Tiger has lost his aura, and it may never come back.
It gets better every year, it's unbelievable. We had 10 guys in with a shot [this year]. We didn't know which way to turn. So it's difficult for TV. If you have six guys putting for the lead at the same second, where do you go? You can miss the key putt. And it was hot. I was soaked. We sit in a little tower at the back of 18, with no aircon or anything. I was soaked through. But a great finish. [Charl] Schwartzel's four birdie finish was superb. I felt for Rory [McIlroy]. It was good that he bounced back [at the US Open]. He helps us out at the Faldo Series a lot. He came to our Grand Final and helped with clinics.
Ryder Cup Debut
The last Ryder Cup to be held on a links was [Royal] Lytham [& St Annes], which was when I made my debut. Me and Oosty [Peter Oosterhuis] were together. First morning was foursomes and he gave me the honour. We played [Ray] Floyd and Lou Graham. I was the youngest ever to play in it before [Sergio] Garcia pipped me. We used to lose back then ... we expected to lose. But I won, which was nice.
Ryder Cup Captaincy
I enjoyed some parts, some parts I didn't enjoy. I know I'm not going to get another chance, so there's not much point in thinking about it [laughs]. The boys did well last time [in 2010]. We won, that's what's important. We've held three Faldo Series finals at Celtic Manor, which is why I could speak authoritatively about the weather. And I could predict it! I've been there and felt the rain coming horizontally off the Severn Estuary. Gleneagles [2014 Ryder Cup venue] weather could also be challenging.
When people like Rory and Yani [Tseng] were winning on the Faldo Series, you couldn't see the X-factor. You know, we always want too much now. We ask the question: 'Do you want to be world number one?' If the kid says no, or doesn't answer it, you think: 'Blimey, he lacks ambition.' 74
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"I don't think about money. I don't watch it. I haven't a clue about my net worth. If it fluctuates then I'm not too concerned." But when I look back on my career I remember that all these things happened in stages. First goal was to be a pro golfer, then go on tour. Then you play a bit and think, 'Oh, I could win.' Then you win a bit and you want a major. I played a couple of years and I thought I could win an Open, but that didn't happen for nine years. Then the Number One thing came about and you think, that could be interesting. Then when you get close to it you really want to be number one. I didn't start at the age of 18 knowing I wanted to be number one, but the media forces these kids to say it now and then criticizes them for it. HK Golfer・DEC 2011
weeks, especially since my Dad isn't so well. I was born and brought up in Welwyn Garden City, and that's where my parents are. My kids are old enough to fly to me now which is fun. That makes life a little easier.
I pay taxes everywhere. I was advised not to get a green card, but I don't think about it. Some people structure their whole lives around it, and I did for a while. I had a management group telling me I should go to Bermuda, do this and do that. I don't see the point. I don't think about money. I don't watch it. I haven't a clue about my net worth. If it fluctuates then I'm not too concerned.
"I had my era, I had my time, and I was motivated pretty well. Physically you change and I physically can’t survive a day going at the pace I used to. I used to play and practice so damn hard every day – I can’t do that anymore." Twitter
Off-course pursuits: Faldo's business interests even extend to wine. The Englishman has his own Nick Faldo Selection Cabernet, Shiraz and Sauvingnon Blanc, all produced in South Australia's Coonawarra region 76
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I l ove Tw it t e r [c h e c k Fa l d o o u t @ TheSirNickFaldo], but it shouldn't be taken seriously. Someone dangled a carrot and said if you have x number of followers it has a commercial value, and that's got these guys thinking. I think the danger is that you react too quickly to it. It's like mobiles in general; you react too quickly to it. If you've got a phone in your bag and it starts to ring, you always react to it. You walk over to see what's just happened; a call, a message, a posting – you react to it. I think the guys have lost the solitude, the wonderful solitude of going practicing and only thinking about hitting golf balls. Because I know it happened to me. Once I started changing, trying to become a businessman and all sorts of things then you lose that wonderful, you know, 'I'm gonna tip a bag of balls out and hit them.' You lose that 100 per cent concentration. There's so many distractions now. Every move of the day is recorded.
I live in Orlando, that's my base, but England is still home. I pop back there every month or six
I went with IMG right from when I started and I did 20 years with them. If you're a golfer that's great because you just go play golf and they do your tax bills and everything else. When you want to then build your own identity a bit and you want to understand the business side then you tend to get involved more on that side of things. To be honest I would really advise young golfers to get someone they trust. Trust them on day one, don't ask questions until your golf career is over. If you find after 30 years something is wrong at least you've had peace of mind for 30 years. You may have been stupid for 30 years, but you didn't know. Seriously, that's the best. When you know there's a better way of doing business, or someone is abusing you for whatever reason, you're done. One it gets in your head you're done. But with common sense there are enough lawyers around to read the contracts for you. [laughs] If your manager's selling you, keep him. If he can't sell you, dump him. To be fair, you also have to perform. There's a lot of kids today who think 'I want a manager' and you say, 'Well, what have you done?' And they say, 'Not a lot, but I want you to sell me.' But you have to be a performance athlete. You have to perform. Of course, I'm now the opposite. I'm "selling" six majors, something that happened 20 years ago. You definitely need a different approach. I can't have them managing for a percentage of performance money, because that's what you get when you are a regular on tour. That's why my relationship with TaylorMade is so good. They know I'm a voice for them, I bring my six majors with me. I was with Nike for a while, and I said, 'I can't play like I used to play. Forget it!' HKGOLFER.COM
I had my era, I had my time, and I was motivated pretty well. Then I geared up again to do it properly, and I looked pretty much the same and felt good but I’d changed physically. Physically you change and I physically can’t survive a day going at the pace I used to back in the day. I used to play and practice so damn hard every day – I can’t do that anymore. It's more fun not playing golf. I play exhibitions but I don't want a scorecard in my hand. I'm playing zero tournaments this year for the first time in 40 years. I actually had a summer holiday with my kids, which was way more fun: fishing, sightseeing and all sorts of things. I'm officially semi-retired. The next event I am going to play is the Open at Murifield in 2013, so I'm in dedicated training, serious practice, every day just for that! [laughs]. It's my goal – just to get to the first tee! [laughs]
On/Off Course Persona
Back in the day, I'd get my head down, go and play, try to focus and people ignored by good qualities and made a lot of assumptions about me and who I was as a person. I always like a good laugh with my friends, but they [the
media] didn't see that. I know I have a dark sense of humour at times but if you know me you know that I can be a bit nutty. Don't get me wrong. I know I've been very lucky. There are some stunningly gifted public speakers who freeze in front of a TV camera, and I've been shy all my life. That shyness perhaps led to my reputation and people forming an opinion of me.
You have to be a natural, because you can't fake it. The key is to just think you are talking to yourself most of the time [as opposed to millions of viewers] and that's fine. Even when I turn to the camera I'm just talking to the camera. Still, sometimes it does get a little scary when you ask 'Where is this going?' and they say 'The world'. You do get those silly old moments when you're talking away and you don't even know if anyone can hear you. I try not to think too hard about it [but] I'm enjoying what I'm doing. As for the opinions [I make], well, I've walked the walk to back it up. That's my mantra. No one has said I don't know what I'm talking about. I've been there and done that. I've played in these events at the same courses.
About Laguna Lang Co
Located between the cities of Hue and Danang on Vietnam's central coast, Laguna Lang Co will, upon completion, be the first fully and legitimately integrated resort in the country. It will also be the largest, with 2,000 hotel keys under the management of seven international branded hotels and resort operators, award-winning spas, resort residences, convention facilities and a town centre replete with retail and recreational facilities. The resort is the next generation of Laguna's extraordinarily successful development in Thailand, Laguna Phuket. Faldo's course has been routed across stunningly diverse land. Starting on a coastal headland, the layout winds its way through mangroves and jungle and incorporates numerous rock formations and rice paddies. "Every hole is different – there's nothing worse than an unmemorable golf course – but this is going to be very good," said Faldo. "The course is shaping up nicely and already has some wonderful movement. The terrain allowed us to incorporate some very interesting and unusual features." The course is one of three key components of Phase One of Laguna Lang Co., the other's being Angsana Properties' condominium-style resort, which like Faldo's layout is slated to open in mid 2012, while a sophisticated portfolio of highquality Banyan Tree-branded villas will launch sales at the beginning of the year.
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Charles McLaughlin meets the six-time major champion at his newest course design project – Laguna Lang Co in Vietnam
hank goodness for the rain. It's absolutely bucketing it down and shows no sign of relenting. I'm not usually so pro precipitation – I'm from Scotland – but on this occasion it has its advantages. We, the media, have assembled for a tour of Faldo's latest design creation at Laguna Lang Co, the Banyan Tree Groupdeveloped and managed luxury retreat on the Central Vietnam coast, but given the conditions it's been decided that we skip this part of the itinerary and adjourn for an early lunch. Star of the show: Faldo's course design company is one of the most respected firms in the business
While Faldo's course is sure to be world class when it opens – aside from his postplaying career success as a TV commentator, the 54-year-old Englishman has established one of the most respected design firms in the business – and I'm disappointed not to see how its progressing – the weather means Faldo's schedule has relaxed a little. On media trips such as this, the amount of face time journalists get with the star of the show is dictated by any number of factors, but generally speaking a 15-20 minute interview is about as much as you can expect, given the typically whirlwind nature of the subject's visit. This time is different. With no course tour to host or coaching clinic to conduct (this too has been cancelled), Faldo has time on his hands and I make my move. I introduce myself on the minivan ride to the lunch venue and then – rather cheekily, it must be said – plant myself in the seat next to his at the restaurant. If he's at all irritated by my chutzpah , he does a very good job of hiding it. Indeed, Faldo is great company. Far from being the cold fish that he is often portrayed to be, the six-time major champion becomes more relaxed and humorous as lunch progresses, each new – and exotic – course that arrives prompting a lively – and often downright hilarious – discussion and obligatory Twitter update. Along the way, Faldo and I discuss all manner of subjects – from Tiger Woods to financial advice, with thoughts on his maligned Ryder Cup captaincy, the state of his own game and why he believes the tours should have their own rules when it comes to equipment:
It's a different points system now. I was number one for 98 weeks but I didn't get there until I won my fourth major, so that's quite interesting. You've got to understand the system. If you're super consistent – and Luke Donald is ridiculously consistent – you'll get there. In
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Malta, Mauritius, The Netherlands, Portugal, Seychelles, Singapore, S. Africa, Switzerland, Turks & Caicos Islands, U.K. & Uruguay.
Published on Nov 30, 2011