Exclusive: The untold story of Walter Hagen’s World Tour
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION ISSUE 72
HKGOLFER.COM JANUARY 2013
HOKKAIDO TRAVEL GUIDE
On the road with Tom Watson DISPLAY UNTIL 15 FEB
INTERVIEW: NICK PRICE
HK Golfer Issue 72
24 On the Cover:
Tom Watson will be the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history when he skippers the US side at Gleneagles in 2014. Photo by AFP
24 | 2012 in Review
12 | In Focus
32 | Man For All Seasons
17 | Tee Time
All the highlights – and a couple of lowlights – that made golf, both professional and amateur, such compelling viewing last year By Alex Jenkins Our correspondent had only one thing on his mind when he travelled to the Emirates Australian Open last month – watch his idol – the ageless Tom Watson – put on a show ... which he duly delivered By Paul Prendergast
44 | HK Seniors Open Amateur Championship
Kiwi Michael Barltrop holds on for his maiden international win at Fanling, while Hong Kong’s Joe Pethes claims a share of second place By Alex Jenkins
50 | The Greatest Show in Golf Charles McLaughlin (Ryder Cup); Daniel Wong (HK Seniors)
Walter Hagen’s 1937 world tour – a series of exhibition matches around the globe – reads like something from an Indiana Jones movie, and includes tales of man-eating tigers, sinister Japanese troops and even a German U-Boat By Dale Concannon
56 | Heavenly Hokkaido
Golf in Japan, but not as you know it! We enjoy the delights of this northerly island, a region renowned for world-class skiing, but now one that has become a great golf destination in its own right By Charles McLaughlin
70 | Final Shot
HK Golfer・JAN 2013
We talk to three-time Major champion Nick Price, who takes over from Greg Norman as captain of the International Team for this October’s Presidents Cup By Paul Prendergast
A pictorial review of the past 30 days – both locally and regionally By The Editors With the addition of a minute repeater and a grand complication pocket watch, Cartier proves that its Fine Watchmaking line can rival that of any fullyfledged manufacture By Evan Rast
Unique insights. Perfect balance.
20 | Driving Range
Our motoring editor discusses the latest generation Lexus GS450h, a ‘performance hybrid’ that he himself owns By Ben Oliver
22 | Golf & Investment Academy
For those investors out there, you might find that golf and investing share a lot of similar attributes By the Editors
42 | Hitting New Heights
How Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan won the China Amateur Open By Alex Jenkins
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48 | In Good Hands
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56 D E PA R T M E N T S 10
HK Golfer Mailbag
17 Clubhouse 38
Around the HKGA
HK GOLFER is published by Times International Creation, 10A Lockhart Centre, 301-307 Lockhart Road, Hong Kong. HK GOLFER is published monthly © 2012 by Times International Creation. Published in Hong Kong. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is strictly prohibited. PRINTED IN HONG KONG. 8
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HK Golfer Mailbag Good Luck Guan I really can’t wait until the Masters Tournament starts in April. As the first Major of the year, one that is always held at the same venue – the pristine Augusta National Golf Club – the Masters really does seem that little extra special, despite being the youngest of the four ‘Grand Slam’ events. The 2013 edition promises to be especially worth watching because of Guan Tian-lang, the 14-year-old Chinese amateur who qualified for the Masters thanks to winning the AsiaPacific Amateur Championship. Guan will become the youngest to have ever played in the tournament, and while many are predicting that he’s unlikely to fare well – his relatively short driving distance and total inexperience put him very much at a disadvantage over the difficult Augusta course – I’ll be cheering him on regardless. Only two other Chinese golfers have ever made it into the field at the Masters – Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong, and they were both seasoned pros by the time of their debuts. I’m not sure what Guan thinks of it all, but one thing is for sure: his appearance at arguably the world’s most famous tournament can only raise the profile of golf in China. The country needs golfing heroes, and Guan could be the one to make a real difference. Terence Lee Robinson Road
A Good Walk (continued ... ) I have been reading with interest the number of good walking courses recommended by readers in the HK Golfer mailbag pages over the past few months, and I’d like to add one of my own: Caesars Golf Macau. I’ve enjoyed many a fine stroll over this much underrated course, and while I’m sure there are courses that offer more natural surroundings, I always find the views of the Cotai Strip and the Lotus Bridge that connects Macau with China fascinating. Oliver Taylor Via email
David Paul Morris
Editor’s reply: I agree with you, Oliver. Caesars Golf Macau is very enjoyable indeed. The improvements that the club has made to the course over the past few years have been significant, and, on the occasions I’ve been there, the playing surfaces have always been in first-class condition. I, too, appreciate the surreal vistas down the Strip that a round here provides. 10
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Guan Tian-lang, 14, will become the yougest player in history to play in the Masters this April after winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in Thailand last November
I am continually amazed by the number of people I meet who play regularly but who aren’t covered by golf insurance. It’s not that it’s expensive. For the cost of a decent bottle of wine (or a dozen good golf balls), you can insure your clubs again loss or theft (which is particularly useful for those of us who travel several times a year), protect yourself from personal liability claims (heaven forbid something terrible happens on the course) and most policies even cover hole-in-one expenses. Unfortunately I’ve never had reason to claim any hole-in-one cash, but I have certainly lost a few clubs over the years – and I’ve been able to get these replaced at no extra cost. Everyone insures their home, everyone insures their office and everyone insures their car ... why doesn’t everyone insure their golf?
Daniel Kwan Tai Po 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.
Local Focus Fending Off the Family Kiwi Michael Barltrop hits his tee shot at the par-3 12th hole during the final round of the Hong Kong Seniors Open Amateur Championship, which was held over the Old Course at Fanling early last month. Barltrop emerged with a one-shot win over his elder brother Rodney, who is considered one of the greatest senior amateurs in New Zealand history, and Hong Kong Golf Club member Joe Pethes in a closely fought contest. It was the younger Barltropâ€™s first international win and arrived 28 years after he represented his country in the Eisenhower Trophy, the last time he played at Fanling. Photo by Daniel Wong
Asia Focus Charl in Cruise Control South African Charl Schwartzel takes dead aim at Amata Spring Country Club’s island green 17th hole during last month’s Thailand Golf Championship. Schwartzel, who had been without a win since the 2011 Masters, was in sensational form, carding a 25-under-par total to race to an 11-shot victory over Bubba Watson and Thitiphun Chuayprakong who tied for second place. Such was Schwartzel’s dominance that he made only one bogey in 72 holes. Incredibly the 28-year-old went one better the following week in his homeland, winning the Alfred Dunhill Championship, a European Tour event, by a staggering 12 shots. Photo by Asian Tour / AFP
Away from the Fairways | TEE TIME
Mixed Fortunes for HK Open Winners It’s fair to say that current Hong Kong Open champion Miguel Angel Jiménez and former Fanling winner Colin Montgomerie experienced contrasting fortunes last month. Montgomerie, whose 2005 Hong Kong Open victory was one of 31 victories he’s had on the European Tour, was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, while Jiménez, who claimed his third Hong Kong title in November to become the oldest winner in European Tour history, is set for a lengthy stay away from the game after breaking his leg in a skiing accident. “I was skiing in Sierra Nevada, I lost control and I fell,” the Spaniard was quoted as saying in a Tour statement. “I felt a huge stab of pain and I knew right away I had broken something,” he continued, adding that he had been operated on at a clinic in his
Covering All The Bases
native Malaga. “I broke the top of the tibia in my right leg, just where it meets the knee and they put in two pins. It will take three, four or five months to recover and be able to return to competition. I was playing very well … these things happen in life.” Montgomerie’s election into the Hall of Fame was seen as somewhat controversial in the United States (he only just scraped through with 51 per cent of the international vote), as the Scot has never won a Major – or even enjoyed any kind of victory on the PGA Tour. However, his record eight European Order of Merit titles plus eight stellar Ryder Cup appearances clearly worked in his favour. Not that the man himself seemed too worried about the fuss going on in the media stateside. The 2010 European Ryder Cup captain described the honour as the “icing on the cake” of his 30year career.
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The 9908MC movement-powered Rotonde de Cartier Annual Calendar HKGOLFER.COM
With the addition of a minute repeater and a grand complication pocket watch, Cartier proves that its Fine Watchmaking line can rival that of any full-fledged manufacture, writes Evan Rast CONTINUED OVERLEAF
HK Golfer・JAN 2013
n the past four years, Cartier has surprised and the Geneva seal to boot. This is an achievement charmed even the most sceptical of watch that only a few Swiss watchmakers can collectors by presenting an extensive range boast about. In 2012, Cartier continued its strong focus on of high watchmaking pieces, each more ingenious and sophisticated than the next. I’m its Fine Watchmaking, with a collection made to impress. sure that if the brand wasn’t on With a diameter measuring your radar for watches, it certainly Cartier has used 59. 2mm, Car tier ’s Grand is now, especially with some of the more thought-provoking models it a three-pronged Complication Skeleton pocket watch was certainly one of the has presented, like the ID One and approach to bigger announcements of the Two, and the Astroregulateur. watchmaking year. It features a new in-house The company has been using movement with a skeleton a three-pronged approach to that has proven to u r b i l l o n , m o n o p u s h e r watchmaking that has proven extremely chronograph, perpetual extremely effective in establishing effective in calendar, and eight-day power their reputation: first, produce reserve, the calibre 9436MC. notable complications; second, establishing its Encased in 18k white gold, the create new twists to aesthetics reputation. watch is the epitome of classic and engineering; and lastly, invent style with its 1930s-inspired new mechanisms. The brand has gone from an assembler of numerals, which are part of the handwound parts to a fully developed manufacture, capable movement. A limited edition of 10 pieces in of producing grand complications, intricate white gold and five set with diamonds, the movements and concept watches entirely in- pocket watch comes mounted on a rock crystal house, and on a massive scale if needed, and with obsidian base.
HK Golfer・JAN 2013
The Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater o’clock. All indications are set via the crown and Flying Tourbillon is the company’s first minute the 45mm case comes in white or pink gold. For those who like their watches more threerepeater. The watch was developed completely in-house over five years. Equipped with the dimensional looking, the Rotonde de Cartier 9402MC, a movement with a whopping 447 Cadran Love Tourbillon should be of interest. Housing the calibre 9458MC, parts, the 42mm watch comes the timepiece features a solid in titanium or rose gold. What is The extraordinary g o ld chis ell e d o p enwo r k extraordinary about this model dial with Roman numerals, is the location of the hammers Rotonde de asymmetrically formed around and the gongs, which have been Cartier Minute a sub dial that has the hour cleverly incorporated on the dial Repeater Flying han ds , b r id g e an d f l y in g at 6 o’clock. A pusher on the side of the case activates the minute Tourbillon, which tourbillon carriage. The watch is offered in a limited series of 100 repeater, and as it does, the took five years numbered pieces. wearer will be given a great show to develop, is Last though not least, Cartier of hammers hitting the gongs on the dial. presents the Santos-Dumont the company’s Another new movement Skeleton in pink gold. The first of its kind. developed this year is the Santos-Dumont is another 9908MC, which powers the classic of the fine watchmaking Rotonde de Cartier Annual Calendar. This lineup, with its art deco numerals that form the function makes its possible for the watch to be skeletonised bridges of the movement. The precise for a year without having to reset the date, watch has been presented in white gold and it being able to count the months that have 30 or carbon titanium, but this is the first time it is being 31 days. A large date indicator is prominent at 12 offered in pink gold. HKGOLFER.COM
From left to right: the Grand Complication Skeleton pocket watch; the Rotonde de Cartier Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon; the Santos-Dumont Skeleton; the Rotonde de Cartier Cadran Love Tourbillon HK Golfer・JAN 2013
CLUBHOUSE | DRIVING RANGE
Deliberately Different Motoring editor Ben Oliver discusses the latest generation Lexus GS450h, a ‘performance hybrid’ that he himself owns.
he first thing motoring journalists get asked – after “do you know Jeremy Clarkson?” – is “what car do you drive?” This month’s column is both a review of a new car and a look inside my own key-box. With an omni-capable Mercedes-Benz estate to look after the practicalities and an old sports car to look after the fun, I have a free choice on my daily drive. I tend to prefer a fast saloon, and have just swapped my elegant, rapid Mercedes-Benz CLS for the latest generation Lexus GS450h ‘performance hybrid’, which went on sale in Europe in late 2012 and is now available in Hong Kong, with prices from HK$736,900 before First Registration Tax (FRT). So a review of my own car will be favourable, right? Not necessarily. I change cars every year and always pick something new and interesting. From a professional perspective, living with an innovative car is far more instructive than a brief testdrive. And the GS is certainly innovative. Its petrol-electric hybrid engine (the petrol element is a 3.5-litre V6) delivers a system total of 345PS, or 341bhp: serious power, capable of rocketing the GS to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds and on to an electronicallylimited top speed of 250km/h. And in practice it feels faster still, the electric motor delivering all its torque instantly for thumping acceleration. Yet its ability to stop its engine in traffic and run purely on electric power ‘harvested’ from the brakes also means claimed fuel consumption of just 16.3km/l: far less than what you’d expect of a fast saloon. Inside there’s the largest screen currently offered in a production car at 12.3 20
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inches (Tesla Model S excluded), the usual Lexus flawless build quality and a staggeringly advanced new air-con system that releases nano particles that deodorize the cabin and even moisturize your skin. Sounds impressive. But I’m still not entirely in love with my new car. The styling is one issue: for me, the Lexus doesn’t have the kerb appeal of its rivals from Mercedes or Audi. But for many Lexus owners, keen to avoid attention or the usual premium brands, this is a positive advantage. More serious perhaps is that in my first couple of months I’ve only been able to manage around two-thirds of the claimed fuel consumption, even when driving moderately. Golfers will need to check that the boot carries all the bags they’re likely to require, as the hybrid system’s battery steals some space. And my biggest gripe is with the ‘mouse’ that controls that big multimedia screen: in a right-hand drive market like Hong Kong, it must be worked with the left hand, which HKGOLFER.COM
The innovative GS's petrol-electric hybrid engine delivers a system total of 345PS, or 341bhp: serious power, capable of rocketing the car to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds and on to an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h
How much? HK$736,900-866,730 Engine:
V6 petrol, 3,456cc with AC electric motor, nickel-metal hydride battery
5.9sec 0-100kph 250kph, 341bhp
How heavy? 1,825kgs-1,910kgs
the right-handed majority may find awkward. I certainly do. But it may well be that none of these issues is an issue for you, and the peerless refinement (and environmental kudos) of electric power in Hong Kong traffic needs to be witnessed. Lexus doesn’t try to appeal to the high-volume, premium-car mainstream, but offers something deliberately different. You might love it. I’m still deciding. HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・JAN 2013
| SPECIAL FEATURE
Overconfidence, continues Sun, is a specific example where professional advice can be of particular benefit. “When a golfer makes a hole-in-one they by and large realise there’s little chance of repeating it at the very next hole. There is skill involved but there’s also a lot of luck. It can be the same with investing,” he says. “If a client makes a 200 per cent gain on a short-term investment, overconfidence can be a danger. They might think they can keep repeating that kind of return. That could be a lack of judgment, and this is where a professional can help.” Losing sight of the reason why you’re playing golf or investing can be where the connection is most apparent. “The reason I play golf – my goal in the game, my plan – is to have fun,” says Sun. “I take one hole at a time and I always enjoy myself regardless of my score. In investing, you shouldn’t allow your emotions to get the better of you. You must stick to your plan and stick to the reason why you started investing in the first place.”
Golf & Investment
Haney Golf Tip Putting is the most unique part of the game. Even on Tour you see many different styles and strokes. But despite this, there are certain dos and don’ts that apply, and making sure you have the correct fundamentals will certainly better your chances of holing more putts. The first thing to consider is your grip on the putter. Every pro removes his or her glove when putting because it helps give them more feel. You should do this too. I favour a standard grip, which is also known as the reverse overlap. This is where the first finger of my left hand overlaps the little finger of my right hand (as I’m a right-handed player), with my thumbs pointing straight down the shaft. This makes it easier to keep the clubface square at impact, which in turn enables you to set the ball off on the intended line. The second point to note is the ball position. This should be forward in your stance, inside your left toe. This allows you to strike the ball at the start of the upswing, giving you a better roll. Finally, and just as importantly, keep your eyes over or inside the ball. There has never been a good putter who has his eyes outside the ball. It simply doesn’t allow you to strike the putt with any consistency. Follow these three fundamentals and you’ll be well on your way to making a few more putts!
"There has never been a good putter who has his eyes outside the ball."
For those investors out there, you might find golf and investing share a lot of similar attributes. Both require careful planning, patience, and discipline, to site a few examples. Charles Schwab, Hong Kong, Ltd., a financial services firm serving investors in Asia, certainly believes so. #8 Shared Principles
here have been many financial companies that have sponsored golf tournaments over the years but there has surely never been one that can rival Charles Schwab in terms of its dedication to the game. The corporation, which is the Official Investment Firm of the PGA Tour in the U.S., has long held the belief that golf and investing share a lot of the same principles, which has led it to support the sport on both a global and local level through platforms as diverse as the Champions Tour’s Charles Schwab Cup and the Hong Kong Golf Association’s annual Rules Seminar. Golf, says James Sun, managing director of Charles Schwab, Hong Kong, Ltd., is at the very heart of the company. “Our founder, Chuck Schwab, understood the strength of the connections between investing and golf a long time ago and is 22
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passionate about the game,” says Sun, who took up playing seven years ago and has been hooked ever since. “We, as a corporation, have a lasting commitment to golf, one that continues to grow and expand, particularly now in Asia where the sport is becoming more and more popular.” Sun, who takes to the fairways at both Fanling and Discovery Bay when time allows, cites the emotional control required to be successful in either endeavor. “Golf and investing both ask you the same question: how good do you want to be? How much of your own time can you devote to getting better but, more importantly, what are your goals and how do you plan to reach them? Controlling your emotions, keeping both greed and fear in check, is key, which is why both disciplines benefit from the perspective of a professional – whether it be a golf coach like Hank Haney or an investment consultant.” HKGOLFER.COM
Hank Haney is a PGA Teaching Pro and a Charles Schwab client in the US To learn more from Hank, visit: www.ijgtasia.com. Hank Haney and the IJGT: Driving junior golf in Asia.
About Charles Schwab Charles Schwab Corporation’s Founder and Chairman, Mr Charles Schwab, is an avid golfer himself. Over the years, he has found both golf and investing are tough games and that there’s no short term fixes. His firm, which is the Official Investment Firm of the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour, strives to guide investors along their investing journey, formulate plans, and provide resources to help investors be successful. When Schwab first opened its doors in 1971, the HKGOLFER.COM
company knew that the key to success would be For more on the connection getting the fundamentals right. By focusing on the between golf and investing, basics, the firm managed to take an early market visit: schwab.com.hk/golf lead, offering a combination of low prices with fast, efficient order executions, and soon became the United States’ largest discount broker. Today, the company is one of the US’s leading financial services firms with around US$1.92 trillion in client assets. Charles Schwab, Hong Kong, Ltd. is a subsidiary of The Charles Schwab Corporation. HK Golfer・JAN 2013
| BEST OF 2012
Player of the Year
The Best of
OK, so he didn’t exactly thrill us at the UBS Hong Kong Open this time around but with five victories – including a second career Major at the US PGA Championship – Rory McIlroy well and truly lived up to world number one billing. Not that he had everything go his way. A string of missed cuts if the first half of the season – which came after a disappointing weekend at Augusta – had the naysayers out in force, but the 23-year-old Ulsterman roared back when it mattered, claiming two of the four FedEx Cup Playoff events on the PGA Tour, the aforementioned US PGA (by a staggering eightshot margin of victory) and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. McIlroy won the money list titles in both Europe and America and played a significant role in Europe’s epic Ryder Cup win. He also beat his childhood hero Tiger Woods in an exhibition match in China, the so-called ‘Duel at Jinsha Lake’. Ten years ago they were all chasing Woods; now McIlroy is the man to beat.
Alex Jenkins turns his attention to the winners (and losers) over the past 12 months
Winner: Rory McIlroy
Performance of the Year
Photo credit: Charles McLaughlin (Ryder Cup); AFP (Rory McIlroy)
Clockwise from top: Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell celebrate Europe’s dramapacked win at last year’s Ryder Cup, for us the best tournament of the year; while Rory McIlroy failed to fire at Fanling, his form over the course of 2012 was easily enough for him to win player of the year; the colourful Ian Poulter was the driving force for the Europeans at Medinah, where he put in a quite stunning performance 24
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Tournament of the Year
The Masters was t hrilling, t he Open Championship absorbing, but no event in 2012 came close to providing the sheer drama of the Ryder Cup, not even the UBS Hong Kong Open which saw Miguel Angel Jiménez cement his place in Fanling history with a third title in nine years. Rallying back from four points adrift with a gripping final-day singles performance, the Europeans at Medinah echoed what the United States had done in 1999 in making the seemingly impossible happen. “I don’t know what heaven feels like, but it must be close to this,” said euphoric European skipper José María Olazábal after Martin
Kaymer holed a five-foot putt to ensure the Cup would be heading back across the Atlantic. The style of Europe’s victory was a fitting tribute to the late Seve Ballesteros, the man who did so much to reinvigorate the competition and whose trademark navy blue and white the team wore on the final day in Chicago. “Seve will always be present with this team,” continued Olazábal, Ballesteros’ longtime foursomes and fourballs partner. “He was a big factor for this event, for the European side. Last night we had a meeting, I think the boys understood that believing was the most important thing. And I think they did.”
Love him or loath him there’s no doubt that Ian Poulter put in a performance for the ages at the Ryder Cup. He may not be the best ballstriker on Tour, nor the longest hitter, but the colourful Englishman, the 2010 Hong Kong Open champion, has belief and determination by the bucketload. Match play golf is what he does best – and the Ryder Cup, judging by his numerous tweets, is what he lives for. At Medinah, Poulter was unstoppable. Wielding a putter that can only be described as furnace-hot, he single-handedly took the fight to the Americans at a time when Europe, trailing by six points with only two games left of the Saturday fourballs left out on the course, looked completely out of it. In partnership with McIlroy, Poulter made five consecutive birdies – his eyes bulging out of their sockets and his fists pumping as every putt dropped – to close out their match against Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson 1up. But just as importantly, it gave his team hope. A 2-up win over US Open champion Webb Simpson in the singles also gave him his seventh win in a row at the Ryder Cup. “He’s a guy like Monty or Seve,” the likeable US captain Davis Love said at the time. “This is what they live for. He loves playing on this kind of stage. It was tough on us, but it was very exciting.”
Winner: The Ryder Cup
Winner: Ian Poulter (Ryder Cup) HKGOLFER.COM
HK Golfer・JAN 2013
Ernie Els took advantage of Adam Scott’s dramatic late collapse to win the 2012 Open Championship
Comeback of the Year
Having failed to qualify for the Masters in April for the first time since 1993, Ernie Els, aged 42, bounced back to win his fourth Major at the Open Championship at Lytham in July, courtesy of some brilliant final-round play and Adam Scott’s dramatic late collapse. The Big Easy started the final day six shots behind Scott and ended up winning by one – nearly 10 years to the day since he won his last major, the 2002 Open at Muirfield. Scott’s fall from grace – despite not playing anything like as well as on the first three days, he still lead by four from Els with just four holes to play – was uncomfortable to watch, but on the flip side, seeing the towering South African playing – and significantly, putting – like he did in his glory days was as pleasing as it was surprising. While he missed a chance at the 17th, the popular Els holed a tricky 12-footer on the last for a must-make birdie, and by the time the unfortunate Scott tapped in at the 18th for his fourth consecutive bogey, the R&A-hired engraver was already etching the shortest name – E Els – on the Claret Jug for the second time. “I feel for my buddy,” said Els of Scott. “I have been there, lost Majors, lost tournaments. I just hope he does not take it as hard as I did. I’m so happy to have won but I have been there at the other end more.” Winner: Ernie Els (Open Championship)
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Equipment of the Year
For the second year in a row, the Masters was decided in the woods lining the 10th fairway. In 2011 on Sunday it was McIlroy’s disastrous drive into the trees left of the fairway that knocked him out of contention and opened the door for Charl Schwartzel. This year, it was Bubba Watson’s hooked wedge shot from deep in the trees on the other side that somehow, against all right and reason, wound up 15 feet from the pin. Two putts later, he had defeated Louis Oosthuizen in a play-off and won the Green Jacket. “I had to keep it under 15 feet under a tree, then it started rising and hooked about 40 yards. Pretty easy,” said an unbelievably modest Watson of his 160-yard stroke of genius. Amazingly, Watson’s effort was the second truly historic shot of the day. The first came on the par-5 second hole when Oosthuizen holed out for an albatross from 253 yards with a four-iron. It was the first albatross ever recorded on that hole, and the fourth in Masters history. But, at the end of it all, it still wasn’t enough to defeat Watson and his own particular brand of “Bubba Golf”.
When it was confirmed that McIlroy wou ld b e play i ng his last tournament using Tit leist clubs a t t h e D P Wo r l d Tour Championship in Dubai, before h is expected – a nd purpor ted ly high ly lucrative – move to Nike equipment, the world nu mb er one quashed any doubts that this might affect his bl istering form in rather surprising fashion. “I think all t he m a nu f ac t u rer s make great equipment nowadays and it’s all very similar – a lot of them get their clubs made at t he sa me fac tories,” he sa id. W hat t he head of public relations at Nike t hought about t his has not been recorded, but McIlroy is right in the sense that, unlike 15 years ago and before, golf gear has never been better. And while our winner of this category in 2011 – the increasingly popular belly putter – has hit a snag given that the governing bodies have effectively banned its use from 2016 onwards, there is one piece of equipment which the pros continue to use in their droves: the Titleist Pro V1. The most-used ball on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the Japanese Tour, the LPGA Tour and the Asian Tour, an estimated 60 per cent of professionals tee it up with a Pro V1 – or the Pro V1x – making it overwhelmingly the most popular piece of equipment in the game today.FFor those who can’t quite bring themselves to shell out the requisite HK$360 for a box of 12, we recommend the Titleist Velocity, which while lacking the same unparalleled feel of the Pro V1 around the greens, is still soft enough to generate spin and flies significantly longer. At nearly half the price of the Pro V1, the Velocity has found its way into an increasing number of amateurs’ bags since it was unveiled early last year.
Winner: Bubba Watson (Masters)
Winner: Titleist Pro V1
Shot of the Year
Bubba Watson played this miraculous 160-yard wedge to within 15 feet of the flag in a play-off to defeat Louis Oosthuizen for the Masters title. “Pretty easy” was how the American described his brilliant shot.
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Quote of the Year
“Annika told me that world number one is the loneliest place on the earth,” said Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, referring to Annika Sorenstam, at the unveiling of an exhibit in Taipei that celebrated Tseng’s rise to the top to the pinnacle of the game. Despite getting off to a brilliant start in 2012 – she won three of the first five events – Tseng has since struggled with her game and, despite clinging to her ranking, her name has been conspicuously absent from leaderboards in recent months. Winner: Yani Tseng
Despite winning three of her first five events of 2012, Taiwan’s Yani Tseng (right) has found life at the top of the rankings tough. “Annika told me that world number one is the loneliest place on the earth,” she is quoted as saying; Jungle Bird, our villain of the year, gets tossed off the 18th green at the US Open by USGA Chief Executive Mike Davis
Destination of the Year
The 18th hole at Danang Golf Club, a standout course on the Central Vietnam Coast, our travel destination of the year. 30
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Scotland, the West coast of the United States, Melbourne, Ireland, South Africa – all rightly famous golf destinations, but ones that, for us in Hong Kong at least, aren’t exactly suitable for a quick break away. Enter Danang, Vietnam’s third city and a growing tourism destination in its own right. Three years ago, golf wasn’t even on the radar. Now, the place is home to three of the finest courses to have emerged in Southeast Asia in the last decade. There’s the Dunes Course at Danang Golf Club, a brilliant sandbelt-style track that lies within sight of historic China Beach. This Greg Norman design arrived hot on the heels of Montgomerie Links, an expansive modern layout
featuring the linksy characteristics of Colin Montgomerie’s homeland. The newest of this Great Triumvirate is Laguna Lang Co, situated about an hour north of the city on the road to the UNESCO World Heritage site at Hue. The work of Nick Faldo and the centrepiece of a Banyan Tree-led resort development, the course here winds through rice paddies, rocky outcrops and sandy wastes, and features several fantastic coastal holes around the turn. Combine this great golf with a slew of upmarket hotels, the charming old town of nearby Hoi An and an increasing number of fine restaurants and watering holes and it comes as no surprise to learn that Danang welcomed a record number of overseas visitors in 2012. Winner: Danang, Vietnam
No, it’s not John Daly, who was fined by the European Tour for hurling a club during the second round of the Hong Kong Open, but Andrew Dudley, aka Jungle Bird, the onerous cretin who crashed Webb Simpson’s US Open trophy presentation in what he claimed was a bid to raise awareness about deforestation. USGA Chief Executive Mike Davis was so incensed by Dudley that he shoved him into a bunker before police officers arrested the 41-year-old Brit. He was later released without charge.
Photo credit: AFP (Tseng); Charles McLaughlin (Jungle Bird)
Villain of the Year
That wasn’t the end of Jungle Bird however. Soon afterwards he invaded the pitch at an American Football game in Ireland and then made an appearance – without upsetting anyone – at the Open Championship at Lytham. Then, in September, he reappeared, this time at the Women’s British Open, where he interrupted winner Jiyai Shin’s press conference. He hasn’t been heard from since, thankfully. Winner: Jungle Bird
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HK OPEN | REVIEW
Man For All Seasons Paul Prendergast had only one thing on his mind when he travelled to the Emirates Australian Open last month – watch his idol – the ageless Tom Watson – put on a show ... which he duly delivered.
t’s one of life’s great ironies that we sometimes don’t fully appreciate great moments until they’ve passed us by. We don’t get to enjoy our time over, so the recent opportunity to witness the legend Tom Watson in action at the Emirates Australian Open in Sydney last month was an occasion to savour. Jet-lagged from a flight from South Africa and deep in the grip of ‘flu, there was still no stopping the 63-year-old Watson who charmed fellow competitors and audiences alike. From the moment he set foot on The Lakes Golf Club during a windswept Wednesday proam to the time he tapped in his final putt on an equally blustery Sunday, Watson’s class shone through as the rest of the field humbly followed along in his shadow. Watson, who has five Open Championships and a Hong Kong Open title among dozens of others to his credit, may be open to a possible return Down Under in future but who knows? The last time Jack Nicklaus played in Australia was during the 1998 Greg Norman Classic at The Australian Golf Club; a course that neighbours The Lakes, redesigned originally by Nicklaus during the 1970s and in fact, again as we speak. The Golden Bear was 57-years-old at the time, made the cut and finished under par for the 72 holes – but it never occurred to us Australians at the time that we wouldn’t see him play on our turf again. Comparing the actions of these two greats of the game in those two tournaments, it’s easy to
Watson (pictured here at Royal St George’s during the 2011 Open Championship) loves nothing more than playing in testing conditions, something he certainly experienced at last month’s Australian Open (opposite) 32
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In Australia, Watson was both metronomical and economical in the consistency of his swing and ball striking, despite not being at all well for the entire week.
Watson, who has eight major titles to his credit, is seen above with the Claret Jug after winning The Open in 1977 at Turnberry, the so-called “Duel in the Sun”, where he famously defeated Jack Nicklaus; the Golden Bear was again on the receiving end of Watson’s brilliance in 1982 when the latter hold this chip on the 17th hole (opposite) to all but sew up the US Open 34
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see why Watson continues to be a threat at his age on the Champions Tour and can hold his own with much younger players, something that was most memorably highlighted in 2009 when he came within a whisker of winning The Open at Turnberry. Watson, who was appointed US Ryder Cup captain for a second time soon after returning home (see sidebar), remains in better shape and with levels of flexibility that would put men more than half his age to shame. His physical condition is allowing him to do what Nicklaus could not when he last played in Australia. It was significant to note the length of Watson’s swing at 63 in comparison to Nicklaus at 57. Nicklaus had long before started to become shorter in his backswing, as did Arnold Palmer in that age bracket. Watson by comparison was still supple and athletic enough to be able to swing the club back past parallel. At The Lakes, he was both metronomical and economical in the consistency of his swing and ball striking, despite not being at all well for the entire week. His short game remains sharp and was a critical factor in ensuring he made the cut for the weekend late in round two. Over the final three holes, he chipped stone dead for par, holed a 40-foot birdie putt and scrambled for par from a deep bunker to shoot four-under 68, the joint best round of the day. His putting stroke, in particular, looked more solid than the nervous action he was employing to largely great effect to nearly claim that sixth Open Championship three years ago. Not that Watson was particularly happy with his performance, in Sydney or during the previous week at Sun City. When asked what a ‘pass mark’ was for him at this stage of his career, his reply of: “Better than I did now,” illustrates the high standards he maintains – perhaps the most crucial element to his longevity. “The even rounds [68 and 69 on days two and four] are what’s good,” he continued. “There’ll be some more practice sessions to help get the ball on the clubface a little more consistently so I can still compete. Not hitting the ball solidly is the thing that concerns me. I’ve always been pretty good hitting it on the clubface. Hitting it fat, hitting it thin, mis-hitting a lot, that gives you cause for concern. “I got a little bit closer today I thought, but it’s not there yet.” Walking with Watson and his pro-am group on Wednesday with not more than 20 other spectators, I marvelled at his ball striking in the 40km wind conditions and was left in awe at the quality of a 3-iron struck unerringly into the gale and into the hole for an eagle two on the tough par-4 16th. By this point, he had well and truly won over HKGOLFER.COM
his playing partners with his good grace and generosity as much as his play. Despite looking pretty unwell, Watson unfailingly assisted each of his amateur partners with every shot – club selection, chipping and reading the lines on putts. To me, this was in stark contrast to other professionals who were seen striding a hundred metres ahead of their partners as if they were infected with the plague. Playing with Watson, former Australian cricket great Ian Healy told me that “Tom had fixed me” off the tee, and was shaking his head at the great man’s play. Fellow partner Geoff Merrill – the noted Australian winemaker – looked to have completely abdicated every decision about his own round to Watson by the turn, with good effect. Along the way, Watson signed every piece of paraphernalia that was thrust under his nose, even re-aligning people who wanted photos with him so the sun was in the right location. HKGOLFER.COM
It was significant to note the length of Watson’s swing at 63 in comparison to Nicklaus at 57. Nicklaus had long before started to become shorter in his backswing, as did Arnold Palmer in that age bracket. Watson by comparison was still supple and athletic enough to be able to swing the club back past parallel. This decency and respect for the galleries and fellow players continued throughout the week with a loyal following in tow through all four rounds. Numbers also swelled considerably after Watson fought back from an opening 78 to be four-under at the turn in round two and a chance to make the weekend action. The galleries were in raptures as Watson drained a ‘Watson of old’ snake on his penultimate hole, replete with low fist pump and that famous gap-toothed grin, to ensure he wasn’t going home early. “I hate missing cuts, it means you’ve failed.” Watson told us after the round, revealing he had not missed a cut internationally in his career outside of The Open. Watson gathered fans young and old, with his personal touch and a few well chosen words of encouragement, but his most ardent admirer is now likely to HK Golfer・JAN 2013
Guan, the Chinese wunderkind, got more than he bargained for as Watson stunned everyone by asking him to join him for a practice round at Augusta on the Tuesday of the championship. Come April, they will be the youngest and the oldest competitors in the field in what will be Watson’s 40th Masters.
be 14-year-old Guan Tian-lang, the Chinese prodigy who won the recent Asia-Pacific Amateur title to qualify for this year’s Masters. Guan will become the youngest player to grace the fairways at Augusta National and was at The Lakes at the invitation of Golf Australia. Watson met Guan in the media area after the second round after he and his parents had waited for the chance of an autograph and a photo opportunity. Guan got more than he bargained for as Watson stunned everyone by asking him to join him for a practice round at Augusta on the Tuesday of the championship. Come April, they will be the youngest and the oldest competitors in the field in what will be Watson’s 40th Masters. The American, who Whether the Guangzhou-based Guan fully hails from Kansas, fired appreciates the storied achievements of the great a brilliant 69 in windy man is unknown but he was clearly the star struck conditions to complete his Australian Open experience teenager. Watson made a point of chatting to him each time he saw him too, providing advice (above); at the press on his choice of a local caddie and tournament conference in New York preparation. “I remember my first time, 1970. following his selection as the 2014 Ryder Cup captain I was all of 20-years-old. I went out there and 36
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missed the cut,” he said. Watson clearly enjoys these opportunities to guide youngsters on their way, just as elder players helped him when he started out on tour. “They remind me of how I was, I like that. I know what they’re feeling,” he smiled. Watson completed his tournament in high winds with a three-under par 69, outscoring his much younger partner, Gold Coaster Matt Ballard by two strokes before gales halted play for four hours. A laced hybrid into the wind on the final hole set up the opportunity of a fairytale finish but his lengthy birdie putt came up agonisingly short. And with that, he was gone. An inquisitive Justin Rose asked after his score while Watson was signing his card and had a look of astonishment then a broad grin when he learned of the master’s bogey-free round in the conditions. “That’s amazing,” he said with a shake of the head. If this was to be the final round Watson plays in Australia, it was a fitting finish. Can he see himself returning in the future? “Who knows?” he said with a smile. “I’ve certainly enjoyed being here in this country – seeing the Outback, Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns – there are a lot of things I’ve done here. “I’d also like to go to Tasmania or the western part of Australia. There’s always a chance.” If not however, we can only doff our caps and echo the sentiments of a spectator who called out to Watson during the final round: ‘Thanks for the memories, Tom.’ It’s been our honour. HKGOLFER.COM
Watson’s Ryder Cup Call Tom Watson will become the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history after being named as United States skipper for the 2014 event at Gleneagles upon his return from Australia. “I was waiting for about 20 years to get the call,” he told the American broadcast network ABC. “It is a great honour to do it again.” Eight-time Major champion Watson was the last US captain to record an away win, with a 1993 victory at the Belfry. David Toms and Larry Nelson were also tipped to take the job for the event which runs from 26-28 September 2014. The decision, news of which was broken on NBC’s morning Today Show ahead of a formal news conference near the top of New York’s Empire State Building, represents a move away from the PGA of America’s policy of appointing major-winning players in their mid-to-late 40s as skipper for the biennial competition. At 65 when play begins in Scotland, Watson will overtake John Henry Taylor, who was 62 when he performed the role for Great Britain in 1933. He will also be eight years older than previous American record holder Sam Snead, who was in charge as the two sides played out a draw in 1969. The choice was backed by 14-time major winner Tiger Woods – a player Watson had previously criticised for his behaviour both on and off the course. “I’d like to congratulate Tom Watson on his selection as Ryder Cup captain,” the former world number one said. “I think he’s a really good choice. Tom knows what it takes to win, and that’s our ultimate goal. I hope I have the privilege of joining him on the 2014 United States team.” Watson admitted he is desperate for Woods to be on his side at Gleneagles.
Said Watson: “First of all, I hope he [Woods] is on the team. “I don’t think there is a tougher competitor maybe in the history of the game than Tiger. He is someone who anyone would want on his team.” A more cautionary tone about Watson’s prospects was voiced by Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup winning captain Colin Montgomerie. “What happens if he fails?” he said. “He has to win now. If he doesn’t succeed at Gleneagles what’s going to happen in 2016? There is a lot of pressure on Tom Watson, but he can handle that – I’m sure he can. I personally wish him well. “It will be a task for anybody to take on Tom Watson because he is very well respected, very well liked and loved here in Scotland.” Former US PGA Championship winner Toms, 45, had been considered favourite before speculation grew that four-time Ryder Cup competitor Watson would return to the post after he said at the Australian Open that it would be “a great honour”to accept the challenge. Only Paul Azinger in 2008 has led the US to success in the previous six tournaments, in a spell which has also seen Love, Corey Pavin, Tom Lehman, Hal Sutton and Curtis Strange fall short. Watson is the first repeat captain for the US since Jack Nicklaus in 1987, and said he hoped his experience would ensure there would be no repeat of the collapse which saw the US throw away a fourpoint lead going into the final day in Chicago last September. “I’ve lived for that pressure, lived underneath that pressure all of my career and I just hope I can set the table for these players to go out,” he said. “I’m a stage manager, I set the stage for them and they go out and perform their act and in two years I hope that we can get it done.”
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From the President I think everyone who was up at Fanling or watching on television will agree with me when I say that Miguel Angel Jiménez was a hugely deserving winner of the 2012 UBS Hong Kong Open. Living proof that age is not necessarily a barrier in golf, Jiménez collected his third Hong Kong Open win thanks to a combination of wonderful shotmaking and gritty determination. It was great to see – as was the Spaniard’s connection with the fans. He’s one of the most popular players on the European Tour, and the Fanling galleries certainly warmed to the laid-back maestro who turns 49 this month. Jiménez’s victory was a truly fitting end to UBS’ tenure as the title sponsor of the Hong Kong Open. Since taking over the mantle in 2005, UBS has been a magnificent supporter throughout its association with Hong Kong’s oldest professional sporting event. Their involvement has undoubtedly raised the tournament’s profile around the world significantly, and on behalf of the Hong Kong Golf
Mizuno Continues HK Close Sponsorship
Mizuno, the Japanese golf equipment manufacturer, will once again sponsor the 2013 Hong Kong Close Amateur and MidAmateur Championships, which will be played over the Lunar New Year – 10-12 February. The 72-hole tournament, open to Hong Kong residents with a HKGA handicap index of 9.2 or less, will take place over the New Course at the Hong Kong Golf Club, with the winner receiving a coveted berth in this year’s Hong Kong Open, the oldest professional sporting event in the territory. Steven Lam won last year’s tournament for the second time after coming from behind to pip Fanling member Max Wong on the 72nd hole thanks to a brilliant birdie. “Mizuno have long supported golf in Hong Kong and I’m delighted that they have agreed to continue with their sponsorship 38
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Association I would like to thank them for their generosity and commitment over the past eight years. A great deal of thanks must also go to the Hong Kong Government, whose Mega Events Fund also leant significant support. Their generosity was critical in helping attract a number of star names and also in supporting a programme of initiatives to promote both the tournament and Hong Kong as a prime tourist destination. Away from the Hong Kong Open, there was more great news recently with Tiffany Chan, the 19-year-old Hong Kong international, winning the China Amateur Open in fantastic style last month. Tiffany became the first Hong Kong female golfer to win the championship and was just reward for all the hours of practice and hard work she’s put into her game in recent times. Tiffany is a product of the HKGA’s junior development programme, and it is thanks to the programme’s sponsor, EFG Bank, that more and more young golfers in our city have the opportunity to play in competitive golfing environments, which is key to future success on the international stage. Best wishes for a successful 2013.
Unique global partnership degree programme in the management of golf
Peter Aherne President , HKGA
of the Hong Kong Close, which is undoubtedly one of the most competitive events on the HKGA calendar,” said Iain Valentine, chief executive of the HKGA. “It promises to be an excellent week of golf.” The deadline for entries to the tournament – entry forms are available to download from the HKGA website, hkga.com – is Monday, 21 January.
Defending champion Steven Lam
Unique three-year undergraduate degree programme based in the UK
Collaboration between The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) and the University of Birmingham
Course developed specifically for students from developing golf nations interested in studying the business, management and development of the game of golf
Modules taught by specialist world-leading academics and researchers, including PGA golf specialists
Excellent global employment opportunities for graduates
Lectures take place at the PGA National Training Academy, European Centre of Excellence, The Belfry, and at the University of Birmingham
Learn more Dr Martin Toms, Programme Leader, BSc Applied Golf Management Studies International Email: email@example.com Telephone: +44 (0)121 415 8392
is a registered trademark of The Professional Golfers’ Association Limited. HK Golfer・JAN 2013
HKGA | ASIA-PACIFIC SENIOR AMATEUR
Dale Declared the Champ Mother Nature curtails Asia-Pacific Senior Amateur Championship; HK’s William Chung finishes in a share of second.
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Denis Dale (left) with his silverware after his two-over-par round of 73 earned him the title at Discovery Bay Golf Club; the Hong Kong team (right) of Roddy Sage, William Chung, Chu Koon-ching, captain Terry Collins, Joe Pethes, Akiyoshi Kubota and Matajiro Nagatomi, which placed third
ustralia’s Denis Dale was declared the winner of the AsiaPacific Senior Amateur Championship in late November after the final 36 holes at Discovery Bay Golf Club was cancelled due to persistent fog. The 64-year-old’s first – and only – round of 73 proved enough to give him his maiden Asia-Pacific title after a frustrating three days on Lantau. Hong Kong’s William Chung and Frank Borren of New Zealand earned a share of second place, a stroke back on 74. “It wasn’t the way I wanted to win, which is a shame because this is a great event played on a great golf course,” said Dale, who has represented Australia at senior level for seven years. “But the organizers have been superb. They handled the situation very well and it was just a shame that we weren’t able to get back out there.” Dale’s efforts also helped Australia claim the team competition on a total of 301. New Zealand (304) finished in second place, three shots back, with Hong Kong (310) a further six adrift in third. “The curtailment of the tournament because of the deteriorating conditions was of course very disappointing,” said Iain Valentine, chief executive of the HKGA, which was hosting the tournament for the first time in over a decade. “We tried everything we could to get as much play as possible, but in the end Mother Nature got the better of us over the final two days. Nevertheless, congratulations must go to Denis, whose 73 was a fine score in the circumstances.” 40
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Individual Results 1 2= 4= 10=
Denis Dale William Chung Frank Borren Arthur Parkin Hong Kun Pyo Roddy Sage Herminio Maravilla Richard Greville David Cherry Alan Bullas Martin Murray
Australia Hong Kong New Zealand New Zealand Korea Hong Kong Philippines Australia Australia Australia New Zealand
73 74 74 75 75 75 75 75 75 76 76
Team Results 1 Australia 2 New Zealand 3 Hong Kong 4 Philippines 5 India 6 Korea 7 Singapore 8 Chinese Taipei 9 Vietnam
301 304 310 318 329 342 358 360 386 HKGOLFER.COM
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| LOCAL NEWS
Hitting New Heights Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan’s recent hard work paid off with a sensational victory at the China Amateur Open in December, writes Alex Jenkins
Chan, 19, who took a slender one-stroke lead heading into the final round, closed with a 73 over the water-strewn course at Peach Garden Golf Club near Guangzhou to pip China’s Yin Yuan Ru by a shot. Also flying the flag for Hong Kong was Chan’s international teammate, 17-year-old Isabella Leung, who placed third, a further two shots back. Chan’s victory came less than two months after she stunned the field at the Yinli HKPGA Classic, a professional event in Dongguan, by outplaying a string of China LPGA Tour pros to win the title. “It feels pretty good to be the first Hong Kong woman to win the China Amateur,” said Chan, who admitted she hadn’t been at her best heading into the tournament. “The course was very wet and it was cold, but I managed to play well, although I definitely didn't have my putter working as well as I would have liked.” Chan got off to the worst possible start to her final round after being interrupted by photographers at the top of her backswing on her opening drive of the day, which she skewed out of bounds. The resulting double bogey might have thrown a player of lesser character off her stride, but Chan is as resolute as they come and four birdies over the next nine holes saw the former Diocesan Girls’ School student regain her lead, a lead she wouldn’t relinquish. Chan, who finished with a three round total of level par, is heading to the United States early in the new year to continue her education at Redlands Community College in Oklahoma, whose golf team is ranked number one in the region. “I’m excited about going to the US and developing my game over there,” she added.
Chan became the first female golfer from Hong Kong to win the China Amateur; with teammate Isabella Leung, who finished third, at the prize giving ceremony 42
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iffany Chan held her nerve to become the first female golfer from Hong Kong to win the China Amateur Open thanks to an accomplished performance in Nanhai last month.
“The hard work that Tiffany has put in the last six months is really paying off,” said national coach Brad Schadewitz, who has worked with Chan on her game for nearly a decade. “The China Open is an important event for all the Hong Kong players and it’s one she has been targeting, so with Isabella also finishing in contention it’s been a really great event for us.” In the men’s championship which was played over four rounds at the same venue, Hong Kong’s Shinichi Mizuno finished in a tie for 12th, 18 shots back of champion Cameron Davis of Australia.
Mixing With the Professionals Just one week after her China Amateur success, Chan took her place in the elite field at the Hyundai China Ladies Open, the country’s most important professional event, after receiving an invitation on the back of her recent form. Co-sanctioned by the China and Korean LPGA Tours, the three-round event, which was held in Xiamen, included a number of notable names, including world number five Shanshan Feng. Without question the most illustrious tournament that Chan has ever played in, the 19-year-old did herself proud, shooting rounds of 76, 72 and 74 for a total of 222 (eight-over) to earn herself a share of 50th spot. South Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo won the event with a 54-hole score of 205.
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HKGA | SENIORS OPEN
Barltrop Holds on for Maiden Win
Kiwi claims first international seniors event, while Hong Kong’s Joe Pethes takes a share of second Photography by Charles McLaughlin, Daniel Wong and Kimi Tai
ew Z ea la nd’s M ichael Barltrop held off his elder brot her Rod ney a nd Hong Kong’s Joe Pethes to win the Hong Kong Seniors Open Amateur Championship by the narrowest of margins at Fanling in early December. Barltrop, 56, fired a 73 in the final round to finish with a three-day total of 222 (nine-overpar) to claim his first international victory on his debut appearance in the event. Rodney Barltrop, long considered the finest senior amateur in New Zealand history, finished alongside Pethes in a share of second, a shot back. “He’s had the wood over me for a long time now so to get one over him was very nice,” said the younger Barltrop of his brother. Michael last played in Hong Kong in 1984 when he was part of the New Zealand Eisenhower Cup side. “I haven’t won anything in about 30 years, so I’m very happy,” he added. Michael, who held a share of the overnight lead with England’s Stuart Pond, birdied two of his first six holes over the Old Course to build a handy advantage, but let things slip with a bogey at the ninth and a double bogey at the 10th. A further bogey at the 15th cut his lead to one, but he was able to regroup and par the remaining three holes to fend off his closest challengers. “I got off to a good start and established a decent lead but I almost gave it back to the rest of them around the turn,” admitted Michael, a member at Royal Auckland Golf Club. “But I played nicely after that and look forward to returning next year to try and defend my title.” Pethes, who was looking to become the first local player to win the championship since Terry Collins in 2004, carded a best-of-the-day 72. “I three-putted three times but I also made some good putts, so I’m not at all disappointed with finishing second,” said the Hong Kong Golf Club member, who had the consolation of winning the 60-64 age division.
Michael Barltrop is all smiles after his oneshot victory at Fanling; Hong Kong’s Joe Pethes (opposite) carded a solid 73 in the final round to finish in a tie of second 44
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HK Seniors Open Championship Standings 1 2= 4= 6= 8 9 10 11 12= 15= 17 18= 20=
Michael Barltrop Joe Pethes Rodney Barltrop Stefan Albinski Peter King Barry Downing Stuart Pond Kai Flint Murray Martin Alex Ho Junichi Manai Robert Choy Tony Taylor William Chung Isamu Takemoto KC Choo Peter Aherne Lee Kab Soo Donald Moore Akio Tanaka Gregory Conley
New Zealand Hong Kong New Zealand Australia Australia United Kingdom United Kingdom Germany New Zealand Chinese Taipei Japan Canada Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong Canada Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong Japan France
76 73 73 77 74 72 76 74 73 78 74 73 76 75 74 77 76 75 73 76 79 80 74 78 75 75 83 76 78 80 76 84 75 82 80 75 83 78 76 81 80 76 85 79 78 82 81 79 81 78 84 83 79 82 79 82 83 83 80 82 76 85 84
222 223 223 225 225 228 228 232 233 234 235 237 237 237 242 242 243 244 244 245 245
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Brothers Michael and Rodney Barltrop
England’s Stuart Pond
Alex Ho, Stefan Albinski, Kai Flint, Michael Barltrop, Joe Pethes, Stuart Pond, Rodney Barltrop and Peter King
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HKPGA | NEWS
In Good Hands A new date and a committed title sponsor in Ageas spells good news for the HKPGA Championship, which takes place from 15-17 January.
he HKPGA Championship received a boost with the announcement that Ageas, one of the largest insurance companies in the world, has committed to sponsor the tradition-rich tournament for a further three years, starting this month.
To be played from 15-17 January, the event will welcome back defending champion Unho Park, who used his success at the 2012 Ageas HKPGA Championship as a springboard to success on the Asian Tour. “The win last year gave me so much confidence, and we all know that golf is all about confidence,” said Park, who holed a 15-foot putt on the final green to pip Guido van der Valk at the 2012 edition of the tournament. “I have played pretty well since and had a tied 8th finish at the Venetian Macau Open a few weeks ago. Hong Kong has always been one of my favourite places and I look forward to battling a very strong field once again.” Major champion Wayne Grady will also be back at the tournament, marking it the fourth consecutive year that the Australian has committed to the event. The 1990 US PGA Championship winner came close to victory in 2010 when he finished second to American CJ Gatto. The Champions Tour player says he is looking forward to the change in date and the cooler weather. 48
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“I am really looking forward to playing my fourth Ageas HKPGA Championship and I really think the change of date will help my chances to win. The cooler conditions and the fact the golf course will play much faster will help my chances, as I don’t hit the ball as far as I used to,” said Grady who, alongside Greg Norman, lost out to Mark Calcavecchia in a play-off for the 1989 Open Championship at Royal Troon. The 54-hole stroke play event will be played over three different courses, which is how the championship started life back in 1976 at the inaugural event. The first and second rounds will be held over the Old and New Course at the Hong Kong Golf Club respectively, while the Gary Player-designed North Course at the Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course will host the all-important final round. Stuart Fraser, CEO of Ageas Insurance HKGOLFER.COM
Company (Asia), said: “We are really excited to welcome some of the top Asian Tour players back to our championship. The date change will also mean that the courses will be in fantastic condition and the weather should be absolutely ideal. I expect the quality field to shoot some low scores. We’re delighted to welcome back Wayne Grady, who has been a fantastic supporter of the championship, and look forward to witnessing three days of first-class golf. “The decision to sponsor this event for a further three years underlines Ageas’ commitment to professional golf in Hong Kong,” added Fraser. Scott Barr, an Asian Tour regular who finished 21st on the Order of Merit in 2012, has also confirmed his entry. The ever consistent Australian who lives in Singapore, will be making his debut in the championship and said he has high expectations. “Hong Kong is one of my favorite places to play golf, so the opportunity to play in the Ageas HKPGA Championship was one I couldn’t resist,” said the 40 year old Barr. “I won a tournament in Hong Kong earlier in the year and I have many friends here, so everything adds up to a fun week for me.” Local professionals vying for the championship include two-time winner Dominique Boulet, Timothy Tang, who was the only Hong Kong player to make the cut at November’s UBS Hong Kong Open and 2011 Ageas Order of Merit winner Jimmy Ko. HKGOLFER.COM
Kyi Hla HAN
Kyi Hla HAN
Jean VAN de VELDE
Myanmar Myanmar Hong Kong Singapore Taiwan China
United States France Australia
Defending champion Unho Park of Australia (above) hit s a tee shot during the final round of last year's Ageas HKPGA Championship; Daniel Liu, chairman o f the HKPGA, and Stuart Fraser, CEO of Ageas Insurance at the press conference announcing Ageas' continued sponsorship HK Golfer・JAN 2013
| LOOKING BACK
Greatest Show in Golf
The exhibition matches of today are little more than a lucrative sideline to the tournament playing life of players like Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods. With countless millions on offer, they travel the globe showing off their skills, knowing that modern air travel will have them back home within hours not days. It was a totally different story back in the 1930s when top professionals spent weeks, even months out on the road. This hitherto untold snippet from golf history deals with the most remarkable exhibition tour of all time. Undertaken by the great Walter Hagen in 1937, it reads like something from Indiana Jones movie including tales of man-eating tigers, sinister Japanese troops and even a German U-Boat, writes Dale Concannon
riving through the gates of Hungjao Golf Club in warravaged Shanghai in April 1938, Walter Hagen had a bad feeling. Months of conflict between the occupying Japanese forces and the Chinese militia had left the City is disarray. The roadway was badly pock-marked and soldiers stood guard every fifty yards up to the bomb damaged clubhouse. Greeted by a welcoming party which included the Japanese Commanding Officer and various British dignitaries, the American star was invited to view the golf course he was due to play a few hours later. Pointing to the eighteenth green, he noticed the freshly turfed grass and unfilled bunkers. “They were shelled a few days ago,” explained Anthony “Frank” Hastings George of the British Consulate. “They rebuilt it especially for your visit!” Hagen remained unconvinced. Playing an exhibition match in the middle of a warzone was
Hagen (right) with his long-time friend and fellow professional Joe Kirkwood (left) take time out of a lengthy sea journey during their world tour to entertain fellow passengers 50
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never a smart move and he attempted to pull out. Informed that a ceasefire had been agreed just for that day and how he risked causing a diplomatic incident, he reluctantly agreed to walk a few more holes. Most were in playable condition and Hagen reluctantly agreed to go ahead. Never one to resist a challenge, even “Sir Walter” might have changed his mind had he witnessed the removal of dozens of dead bodies from the course the previous night. Worse still, those that could not be removed in time were buried in small mounds around some of the greens. Exhibition matches were a way of life for pro golfers in the Depression-hit decade of the 1930s. For top players like Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Tommy Armour, winning majors may have been the priority, but it was the weekly slog across the United States that paid the bills. Tournaments were hit-and-miss affairs with anything outside top-10 prize money often swallowed up by expenses. For many it was far easier to turn up at some backwater golf club, play a quick round, shake some hands and pocket a quick US$200, plus side bets. Or as Hagen himself put it: “Winning [US] Opens may have put champagne in my glass but it was beating some club pro in Pocahontas, Arkansas that put bread on the table ...” So imagine the ‘bread’ on offer when Hagen unveiled his ground-breaking plans for a “circumnavigation of the golfing world!” Never one to think small, it would last a mammoth eighteen months and take in over 32 countries including New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Singapore, Egypt, Malta, France, England, Scotland Wales and Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, India, Kenya, HK Golfer・JAN 2013
Playing an exhibition match in the middle of a warzone was never a smart move and Hagen attempted to pull out. Informed that a ceasefire had been agreed just for that day and how he risked causing a diplomatic incident, he reluctantly agreed to walk a few more holes ... he might have changed his mind had he witnessed the removal of dozens of dead bodies from the course the previous night.
Hagen unleashes a drive at the opening hole at Hungjao Golf Club in Shanghai (above) during the time of Japanese occupation; Hagen and Kirkwood pictured outside the city’s famous Cathay Hotel (right) prior to their exhibition match 52
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Ceylon [now Sri Lanka], the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong and China. Scheduled to begin in January 1937, he offered the important role of playing partner (and occasional ‘comic stooge’) to his long-time buddy Joseph Kirkwood. Well used to travelling, the Australian-born professional had left his homeland back in 1921 to play tournament golf in England. Heading to the United States, Kirkwood made an immediate impact winning the Houston Invitational in his first full season of 1923. Twelve months later “Aussie Joe” had racked up five more victories in America, three of them consecutively. Forming a friendship with the flamboyant Hagen, the down-to-earth Kirkwood was invited to join him in a series of exhibitions over the winter of 1924. Sharing an irreverent sense of humour they proved good
company for each other. But most importantly, the “Haig” liked the extra hours in bed as Kirkwood entertained the crowds with his wonderful array of trick-shots before he was due to show up. Kirkwood in turn, earned more money than he ever dreamed off. Despite the long friendship, Kirkwood had genuine misgivings about this latest “World Tour.” Married with a teenage son, Joe Junior, they had made a similar trip almost a decade earlier in 1930. That had lasted three months and focused mainly on Australia and the Far East. It had proved a financial disaster for both men and the 39-year old professional was not keen to repeat the experience. But tempted by a US$20,000 guarantee, plus a small percentage of the gate, he was unsure whether he could dismiss the offer out of hand in such perilous times. Hagen in marked contrast was enthusiastic about the trip on many different levels. Apart from the bonanza $100,000 payday he expected to pocket, he had long wanted to mix golf with his long held dream of big game hunting in Africa. This trip would offer plenty of opportunities to do exactly that and for Hagen that was the perfect incentive. “My idea was to play just enough golf to take us where we wanted to go,” he admitted in his 1957 autobiography The Walter Hagen Story. It also gave Hagen the opportunity to show HKGOLFER.COM
off his already diminishing skills to an entirely new audience. His glory days had long since passed and so what if they were Australian, Indian or Japanese? Golfers were the same everywhere, he reasoned. They applauded the powerful drives and cheered his great escapes. And with sponsors covering most of the travel costs Hagen had absolutely no intention of turning it down. Like a Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, Hagen unveiled his plans on 16 November, 1936 during a champagne press reception in his suite at the Book-Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, Michigan. A month later in Los Angeles, he finally persuaded Kirkwood to get involved. Figuring that Hagen would “probably get himself killed without me along,” he waved goodbye to his wife and teenage son for the last time in almost two years, and set about finalising the itinerary. Sailing from Los Angeles to Honolulu on 28 January, 1937 the Tour – now labeled “The Greatest Show in Golf” – arrived in New Zealand. Ticket sales were equally buoyant in Australia six weeks later as huge crowds turned up to watch the legendary Hagen. Even the loss of their golf clubs en route to Tasmania failed to dent his enthusiasm as the next two months were spent entertaining galleries from Sydney in the east to Perth in the west. Heading for England via golfing stops in Bombay, Cairo, Malta and France, they arrived in Southampton on 20 June. Speaking to the British press from his suite at the Savoy Hotel in London, he outlined his plans to captain his United States Ryder Cup team to victory at Southport in a few weeks time and possibly even winning the Open at Carnoustie for himself shortly afterward! Rekindled by constant practice, it had been an amazing turnaround in form for the 46-year old legend. Playing in the US PGA Championship at Pinehurst in December 1936, his game was in shreds and he found himself half-topping shots for the first time in his life. His career had looked to be in terminal decline and now he talked openly about winning more majors. He even hinted that should any of his American team fall ill, he was ready to step into the breach and play despite being listed as ‘non-playing’ captain. In the end, neither dream became reality. The USA team was far too strong for their British counterparts and won easily. Englishman Henry Cotton then grabbed a measure of revenge by winning The Open with Hagen struggling back in 26th place. In many ways, Carnoustie was the turning point of the entire trip for Hagen. The next few months were spent barnstorming through Britain and continental Europe playing exhibition HKGOLFER.COM
match after exhibition match. His golf game began to deteriorate noticeably as a combination of growing fatigue and diminishing enthusiasm kicked in. There was even discussion, albeit briefly, of returning to America in late September, but contracts had been signed and Hagen could not afford to be sued. On reflection it might have been a better decision if he had called a halt to the Tour. In December they left Europe for South Africa where he narrowly survived a close encounter with a family of rogue elephants near Lake Victoria. A month later he had an even more dangerous meeting with a German U-Boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Refusing to join Kirkwood on a plane journey from Ceylon to India, Hagen chose to go by tramp steamer instead. Manned by a fervently pro-Nazi German crew, he spent most of the next month onboard the Ochenfeller forced to salute a portrait of Chancellor Adolf Hitler each morning and losing a small fortune in a card game he barely understood. Indeed he lost so much cash, that when the captain was asked if he had any “Westerners” onboard by the submarine commander, they hid him away because they feared having their ill gotten gains taken from them! The trip to India proved equally tasking after Kirkwood broke his shoulder while attempting a new trick-shot routine in Madras. Forced to take on the all playing duties, Hagen then found himself face-to- face with a man-eating Tiger! Accepting an invitation from the Rajah of Calcutta to go hunting, he spent a memorable night waiting by a watering hole where the animal had been spotted. Armed with just a double barrel rifle for protection the reality of what he was attempting to do suddenly hit him: “This was a lonesome spot for a crowd loving fellow like me ... Frankly I was scared! I sat there in the front seat of the car for perhaps two hours. Suddenly I heard the roaring of a tiger ... a tremendous roar, echoing and re echoing in the darkness ... I shook and quivered after each reverberation ... I had the uneasy feeling that the tiger was much nearer than I cared to think ... I waited again and another roar. It was impossible for me to turn around. I had the overwhelming fear that he was actually in the back seat of the car with me ...” HK Golfer・JAN 2013
In many ways, Carnoustie was the turning point of the entire trip for Hagen. His golf game began to deteriorate noticeably as a combination of growing fatigue and diminishing enthusiasm kicked in. There was even discussion, albeit briefly, of returning to America in late September, but contracts had been signed and Hagen could not afford to be sued. Native helpers sitting in the other car had exactly the same idea and roared off in the opposite direction. Thankfully, the noise of their engine scared the animal away and after taking a few minutes to gather his composure, Hagen headed back to civilisation with very little desire to ever go hunting again. Sadly his problems did not end there. Adding pain to shame Hagen was admitted to a hospital in Calcutta ten days later with a life-threatening fever of 105.6 degrees after a bout of malaria. Losing most of his hair in the process, he made a complete recovery and was able to join Kirkwood on the next leg of their tour in Hong Kong after brief stopovers for matches in Rangoon, Penang, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Java. Visibly exhausted neither man was in the right frame of mind when it came to an impromptu invitation to play golf in China on 14 April, 1938. Warned of the ongoing conflict between Japanese and Chinese forces in Shanghai, Hagen and 54
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Kirkwood questioned the wisdom of playing golf in a potential warzone but with a sizable cash deposit paid, they quickly changed their plans and headed for Hungjao Golf Club. Golf was not unknown to Shanghai in the 1930s. A popular stop for European businessmen along with Shanghai Golf Club, Hongkew Golf Club and Kiang-wan Country Club, Hungjao had been extended from a nine-hole layout to a full eighteen back in 1923. Now the site of Shanghai Zoo, the club had been home to the richest members of Chinese society. Now it was home to an occupying force of 600 fully armed Japanese troops in what would be known as the second Sino-Japanese war. The match was a strangely muted affair. Despite no formal truce being declared the game went ahead in relative silence broken only by the occasional round of enthusiastic applause from the Japanese, British and even Chinese dignitaries present. After nine holes, tea was served by elegantly dressed Japanese women in kimonos who mixed freely with cheongsam-clad Chinese women. Plenty of photographs were taken and everything seemed remarkably cordial as the match ended in a respectable tie between Hagen and Kirkwood. The offer of a trick-shot show on down the first fairway was respectfully declined as the day drew to a seemingly successful conclusion. The official guests made their way to the exit and Hagen and Kirkwood waited in the clubhouse for a car to join them. It was then they received an unusual and slightly disturbing HKGOLFER.COM
request from the Japanese Commander. He would, after all, like to film both professionals hitting iron shots down the first fairway. Not wishing to be unhelpful, Hagen and Kirkwood each grabbed a five-iron and began to fire away. Suddenly a group of Chinese soldiers appeared from the opposite direction running toward them with bayonets fixed! Hagen and Kirkwood prepared to bolt but were quickly assured this was merely simple playacting by Japanese troops. This was confirmed moments later as the so-called Chinese troops suddenly threw down their rifles and fled in mock terror under a modest barrage of golf balls hit by a bemused Hagen. The purpose of the movie short was not lost on Kirkwood who guessed this was simply a propaganda tool to show the cowardice of Chinese troops. How could they face guns if they ran away at the sight of golf balls hit by a decadent golf professional, he later conjectured? A few months later in June 1938 the Philadelphia Chewing Gum Company published a series of trading cards for an American audience entitled “The Horrors of War.” Showing the bayoneting of a Chinese peasant by a Japanese soldier at Hungjao Golf Course, a green with a flag in it could be seen plainly in the background. Newly returned to the United States, Hagen never mentioned the match at Hungjao again and omitted it completely from his own autobiography. Kirkwood also had little to say stating only that: “We couldn’t become embroiled in the politics and economics of the various countries we visited to entertain. Our goals were to bring laughter, sport, and comradeship to people, and these objectives seemed to be universally appreciated ...” The Greatest Show in Golf did for the most part bring “laughter, sport and comradeship” to tens of thousands of fans worldwide. That said, Hagen’s reply surprised nobody when he was asked by an American reporter if he would ever take part in such a trip again. “Hell no!” he said. HKGOLFER.COM
Clockwise from top left: A photo published by Chinese authorities of Hungjao Golf Club, a year after Hagen’s visit, with Japanese troops on the course; a trading card depicting “The Horrors of War” – the bayoneting of a Chinese peasant by a Japanese soldier at Hungjao; Kirkwood giving a lesson to Japanese soldiers at the club; Hagen receives the Ryder Cup after captaining the American side to a comprehensive win over their British counterparts HK Golfer・JAN 2013
GOLF ATRAVEL Player’s Guide Heavenly Hokkaido
Golf in Japan, but not as you know it! Charles McLaughlin sampled the delights of summer in Hokkaido, a region renowned for world-class skiing, but now one that has become a great golf destination in its own right.
he seasoned golf traveller will have experienced or at least heard much about playing in the Land of the Rising Sun: spending hours to reach the course, six-hour rounds (with a forced stop for lunch), obligatory caddies and eye-watering prices. Why put up with this at all? It’s simple really. Golf in Japan is of the highest quality: beautifully maintained courses, outstanding food, generally great weather, perhaps the world’s highest standards of service … but some may question if it’s really worth the effort and cost. Well, think again. The summer thaw in Hokkaido reveals a slew of standout courses that have been hibernating under a blanket of snow and, unlike those elsewhere in the country, await those keen to experience the game without the drawbacks of the usual slow play and high prices. This northerly island – the second largest in Japan – became a globally recognised winter sports destination with the awarding of the 1972 Winter Olympics to the capital Sapporo. This was the first time a winter Olympics had been held outside of the USA and Europe — although Japan had previously been awarded the 1940 games that were subsequently never held. Sapporo then became a growing destination for tourists, predominantly domestic until the numbers of overseas visitors grew exponentially following the establishment of the highly regarded tour operator SkiJapan and its followers.
Tokyu, otherwise known as Hanazono 56
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Clockwise from top: Peter Murphy, who established Yotei Golf, a dedicated golf travel company serving visitors to Hokkaido who come with their clubs in tow; a fantastic backdrop awaits at the Arnold Palmerdesigned Niseko Village course; sharp elevation changes are in store at the nearby Fukui course 58
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The Australian entrepreneur Peter Murphy started SkiJapan in 1996, having witnessed the stunning amount of dry snow deposited around the iconic Mount Yotei, aka “The Mount Fuji of the North”. The company now brings over 7,000 people a season to the resort town of Niseko and surrounds. This area, with nearly 600 inches of average annual snowfall, is officially the second snowiest resort in the world. Having conquered the ski market, the effervescent Murphy has now determined that golf in the area is as underappreciated as skiing was two decades ago and has established Yotei Golf, a dedicated travel company based in the shadow of its namesake. Leveraging the superb accommodation, leisure companies and bars and restaurants constructed for the winter visitors, and having built relationships with a growing number of first-class courses in the area, Yotei Golf now offers complete stay and play packages to any golfer wishing to visit the region. “Not many people outside Japan realise what the region offers outside the ski season, but with the launch of Yotei Golf, golf travellers can now add Hokkaido to their future warm weather travel considerations,” he says. “As well as golf, there’s white-water rafting, sea kayaking, cycling and mountain biking, onsen mineral spring baths – and you can hike to the top of Mount Yotei if you’re fit enough.”
Needless to say, whilst I did go hiking (to the sublime Lake Hangetsuko), and took in numerous other extra-curricular activities – including a visit to the Niseko Shuzou sake brewery, a spot of karaoke and a delightful lunch with the legendary Wagyu breeder Shogo Takeda – I couldn’t quite manage to garner the energy required to summit Mount Yotei. I hear from those who did that the views are jawdroppingly fabulous. Golfing wise, perhaps the biggest surprise for a visitor to Hokkaido is finding that there are over 170 courses on the island, with around 15 easily reachable from a base in Niseko’s accommodation hotspot Grand Hirafu. Once largely private, the boom and bust of the late 1980s to early 1990s led to many of the courses opening to the public and prices plummeted. Whilst painful for the developers, it has made the region a golfer’s paradise. Having such a breadth of facilities available in the most sparsely populated area in the country means tee times are readily available, and at bargain prices. Golf here is of course an exclusively summer pastime with courses open from May through October. The weather is perfect for golf at that time, and unlike elsewhere in Japan, 36 holes in a day is easily possible — although a leisurely 18 followed by a visit to the onsen (hot baths) is a delightful alternative. HKGOLFER.COM
Where to Play Niseko Tokyu
hole is the slightly ridiculous 10th, a 721-yard slog of a par-6.
Also called Hanazono, this is the best of the bunch in many ways. Great facilities, superb conditioning and memorable holes, with Mount Yotei forming a breathtaking backdrop on many of them. Wind plays an important part here and the four par-5s can make a mockery of the stroke index if the breeze is coming from an undesired direction. The 16th in particular is a spectacular beast when played into the breeze. The par-3s here are also a memorable feature. All four are challenging – especially the 17th, which from the elevated tees looks longer than its 214 yards. The green is narrow and a lake protects the front. With the wind straight into the player (as it was the day we played) a par here is a great result. Water comes into play on many of the holes, and, with no two consecutive holes playing in the same direction, you’re constantly asking yourself questions on the tee.
Par: 73 Yardage: 6,845 Contact: niseko-village.com
The nearby Fukui course (aka “Arnold Palmer Hidden Course”) is an ugly sister to the Village. This is what one would expect a golf course built on a ski resort to look like, and whilst the sharp elevation changes are certainly dramatic, they are perhaps overdone. Penal rough awaits the wayward shot that doesn’t find the ever-present out-of-bounds meaning this isn’t a course for the weekend hacker. Walking this course would be exhausting just with one’s clubs, but with the bucket of balls one would need, a cart is essential. That said, for the accomplished golfer this may well represent the best value on the island. Painful as it is, Fukui offers a good contrast to Village; being a mental sharpener in case one has been lulled into a false sense of security by its pleasant sibling. Par: 72 Yardage: 6,805 Contact: niseko-village.com
Par: 72 Yardage: 7,003 Contact: niseko-tokyu.co.jp
Niseko Village Designed by Arnold Palmer and a stroll from the first-rate Hilton, this tree-lined track is a delightful setting for a game. Niseko Village is a true resort course as there are plenty of challenges here, but nothing insurmountable. It’s possible to relax and enjoy the magnificent scenery without one’s score disintegrating, and the facilities are superb, being part of the Hilton resort itself. A little unfortunately, the signature HKGOLFER.COM
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Rusutsu Resort Riverwood – Wood The Wood Course here is undoubtedly one of the best in the region. A more forgiving layout than the River, this is nevertheless no pushover. The picturesque second is an early wake up call: rated handicap index one, this is a treelined monster at 454 yards; accept a bogey and move on. As with every course in this area, the scenery is breathtaking and makes it difficult to concentrate on the mundane matter of keeping the ball in play. As ever, wind is a factor, made more challenging due to the sheer number of trees that shield its presence from the tees. Overall, a delightful combination of beauty and bother, you will want to play this again and again. Par: 72 Yardage: 6,817 Contact: en.rusutsu.co.jp
Toya Lake Hill Golf Club Slightly further out is this great facility, with four separate nines offering numerous combinations. It is 90 minutes from Niseko, but the journey itself offers superb views of the countryside. This course is situated high above its namesake lake, and the vistas are out of this world. Nakajima Island sits in the centre of the lake with numerous smaller islets dotted around, and ever present are Mount Usu and Mount Showashinzan. With the crisp clean air, it’s a heady mix. Also look out for the picturesque log cabin tea house on your way around. As ever, elevation changes make club selection difficult, and longer than expected rolls from tee shots bring danger into play. Let the atmosphere sink in, take it easy with your driver and this becomes a great place to play.
plot your way around here. This is especially true on the par-5s, which are all short enough to reach in two, but all feature narrow landing areas. Overshadowed by the elegant Wood Course, nevertheless this is a very fun course in its own right, with the 208-yard par-3 17th and the brilliant risk-reward 18th – measuring less than 280-yards providing a nerve-tingling finish to any close match. Par: 72 Yardage: 6,107 Contact: en.rusutsu.co.jp
Par: 72 Yardage: 7,136
Rusutsu Resort Riverwood – River
There are two Rusutsu golf facilities and be careful not to mix the two! The Jumbo Ozaki-designed course by the resort funfair and ski lifts can be safely bypassed, and instead make your way to the superb Riverwood facility, just over half an hour from Niseko. This features two Curtis Strange designs – not-so imaginatively called River and Wood – and a superb chalet-style clubhouse. The clubhouse is renowned locally for its “Genghis Khan Barbeque”, which takes place on a huge wooden deck and is cooked on a hotplate in the middle of your table. Ice-cold beer, which is poured from the taps on the deck itself, makes for a great finish to a highly enjoyable 36-hole day here. Like some Scots I know, the River Course compensates for its shortness by being ill tempered and dour if not treated with respect. Narrow fairways with steep run-offs on either side would be painful enough. That the run-offs often lead to out-of-bounds makes this a tricky track to master. As the name suggests, water plays a part on many holes and it’s best to keep the big stick in the bag and 60
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Clockwise from top: Accommodations at the Alpen Ridge Apartments; white-water rafting on the Shiribetsu River; teeing off at Riverwood, a Curtis Strange design.
TRIP PLANNER WHERE TO STAY
I stayed at the Alpen Ridge Apartments (alpenridge.com) in Grand Hirafu, which is immediately adjacent to the ski lifts. Luxurious condos are available for rent, with countless bars and restaurants within walking distance. Niseko Village Hilton (niseko-village.com) is the 5-star hotel option. First-class rooms and suites, superb restaurants, in-house onsen and with golf courses on the doorstep, it’s the ideal place to stay and play.
White water rafting: A lot of fun and can cool you down perfectly on a warm summers day. NOASC Rafting Centre (noasc.com) is the place to go. Great runs down the Shiribetsu River, with an expert guide in each boat.
GREEN FEES While it is of course possible to book tee times directly though the golf clubs themselves, by far the most convenient way to approach this is to arrange a hotel and golf trip through Yotei Golf Packages (yoteigolf.com), whose experience in the region makes life far easier.
GETTING THERE Cathay Pacific (cathaypacific.com) operates a daily nonstop flight from Hong Kong to Sapporo during the summer months (flying time: five hours).
Hiking: Can be as vigorous or as relaxing as you choose. I opted for a leisurely stroll to Lake Hangetsuko, or “Half Moon Lake”. This involved climbing to the rim of the volcano and then down into the crater. The beautiful lake is mirror-smooth, peaceful and cool – the perfect spot for a quick dip before heading back. Niseko Village “Pure”: Adjacent to the landmark Niseko Village Hilton is this leisure area, featuring a huge array of activities including tree trekking on rope bridges, a 1.2km zipline track, mountain biking, and both Park Golf and Disk Golf. The former involves hitting a wooden ball the size of a baseball with a cudgel towards an oversized hole. Honestly, it’s more fun than it sounds. (www.niseko-village.com)
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At the end of a great day...
EVENTS | Gagosian Gallery
Flowers & Skulls
... a sublime experience
Takashi Murakami at Gagosian Gallery
A VIP preview and a private dinner at Yung Kee Restaurant marked the opening of the new exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery in Pedder Street, Central. “Takeshi Murakami: Flowers & Skulls” is the first Hong Kong exhibition for the prolific Japanese artist known for his self-described “superflat” style. Hosted by Nick Simunovic, managing director of Gagosian Gallery in Asia, the events were attended by many noted collectors and artists, including the Honourable Ronald and Johanna Arculli, Kirk and May Beaton, Max Burger, KC and Amy Chow, Daniel Green, Claire Hsu-Vuchot, Christopher Jackson, Lumen Kinoshita, Greg Liu, Alan Lo, Chantal Miller, Robert and Stacey Morse, Dee Poon, Sigi and Fatima Unruh, Oliver Weisberg, Zeng Fanzhi. In addition to some great food and fine wines, the lucky guests were treated to a performance by a Shaolin Wushu group with an unlikely cameo by Murakami himself. The show will run through 9 February at 7/F Pedder Building, Pedder Street. For more information visit gagosian.com.
Skulls & Flowers
Ronald and Johanna Arculli 62
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Alan Lo, Takashi Murakami, Jehan Chu
Jolene Chow, Nick Simunovic, KC & Amy Chow
Shaolin Wushu with Takeshi Murakami
Takashi Murakami and Nick Simunovic 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.
firstname.lastname@example.org; (852) 3590 4153 lastdropdistillers.com
SPECIAL EVENTS |
The opening of the Parmigiani shop-in-shop at Emperor Watch & Jewellery in Central gave both brand and retailer plenty of reason to celebrate.
Renowned Swiss Haute Horlogerie brand Parmigiani last month celebrated the grand opening of their shop-in-shop at Emperor Watch & Jewellery, Central by hosting a prestigious cocktail party and an exclusive preview of the Atelier Collection that reflects the brand’s unrivalled craftsmanship and mastery. The event was also graced with the attendance of Mr Jean-Marc Jacot, CEO of Parmigiani who flew from Switzerland to partake in the memorable affair. Other special guests for the evening included Mr Alfred Cheung, Ms Cindy Yeung, Ms Eileen Cha Siu-Yan, and Mr Adrian Cheng. Held at their new retail premise in partnership with Emperor Watch & Jewellery, this modern shop incorporates contemporary elements into traditional design, offering a warm, intimate and welcoming space for watch enthusiasts and collectors. It also displays the Parmigiani timepieces in the most refined and elegant manner befitting a brand of its stature. During the enchanted evening, guests were not only indulged in the quest for originality, independent spirit and inexhaustible energy in each timepiece, but the cocktail party was brought to its heights when the exclusive exhibition of the Atelier Collection was unveiled in Hong Kong for the first time. The masterpieces from this Collection demonstrated the mastery of Parmigiani’s manufacturing aptitude, inextricably entwined with the traveller’s spirit to obtain mechanical perfection. Only being exhibited on selected occasions in groundbreaking settings, this unique Collection will travel throughout the world, often beyond the boundaries of traditional watchmaking routes to show its uniqueness and exclusivity. Ms Cindy Yeung , the Chairperson of Emperor Watch & Jewellery said, “On behalf of Emperor Watch & Jewellery, I am delighted to continue this partnership with Parmigiani. We foresee this partnership as a wonderful coalition and a great opportunity to showcase timepieces of pure luxury. To see innovation embedded in timeless tradition, a perfect balance of elegance we both thrive on.” In honour of the partnership, Mr. Jean-Marc Jacot, CEO of Parmigiani added, “We are honored to further develop our fruitful and respectful relationship with Emperor Watch & Jewellery. The opening of this new boutique marks an important step in the development of Parmigiani. Our presence in Asia, particularly in Hong Kong is important. We hope to continue developing in this market which I believe will become a strategic market for Parmigiani given the continued growth in this area.” Surrounded by Parmigiani's exquisite showpieces, guests enjoyed a wonderful evening at the new shop-in-shop at the Emperor Watch & Jewellery in Central as the perfect location for Parmigiani to further its expansion in Hong Kong and Asia as it shares the same values with the brand – to promote dynamic creativity while preserving and honoring the tradition and craftsmanship in the world of Haute Horlogerie.
HK Golfer・JAN 2013
A shop within a shop: Parmigiani at Emperor Watch & Jewellery
Alfred Cheung, Jean-Marc Jacot, Cindy Yeung and Wei Shan
Parmigiani on display
Cherry Cheng and Vivienne LC Cheng
Louise J Liu and Kristi Kong
Emperor Watch & Jewellery, Central
A model presenting a Parmigiani timepiece
Alex Yeung, Cindy Yeung and Derek Ma HKGOLFER.COM
Vicky Wong, Polly Yeung and Paula Mok HK Golfer・JAN 2013
The - Golf Tournament 2013 -
“I like it when players come to me and say “I want to play with so and so”, but sometimes you don’t want two buddies playing together. Sometimes you want the guys feeling a little nervous playing with each other because it keeps them on their toes.” CONTINUED FROM PAGE 70
amount so that the guys are inspired and keen to compete. Talking to some of the players from last time, the way some of the schedules worked out, some of the guys couldn’t arrive till late and they said they only really started to gel on the Saturday which by then, might have been too late. We want to try to avoid those things in 2013 and I’d like the boys to be able to play the same tournament here in the US the week before so they have only a short way to come.
The Zimbabwean shares a laugh with fellow Presidents Cup teammates Carlos Franco, Vijay Singh and Refief Goosen in 2000, which was won by the United States in comprehensive fashion at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia HKGOLFER.COM
How far out do you talk to the players to let them know they’re on the radar for selection; or do you let them go for a while and let the results pan out? Anyone that potentially can make the team, I’m going to go and talk to. I’m going to try to encourage the guys that are outside the top 12 [the top 10 qualify automatically] to show some form because I only get two picks. Let’s say, for example, a guy is 50th or 60th in the world rankings and has a really good year ... I’m going to want the form players.
If there are two guys that come into the frame and are outperforming my two guys ranked 11 and 12, I will certainly choose them. I’m going to have to compare my number 11 and 12 players off the list with other guys below them to see who is playing the best over the past year or in the three or four month period before the Cup. I want the best players that I can possibly put out there. I want it [the Cup] to be a close one, to come down to the last match on Sunday and have the people sitting on the edge of their seats like they were at the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup was unbelievable theatre; it’s like watching 24 guys trying to win a Major because every point is so important. Getting some support on the ground at Muirfield Village, maybe an avalanche of Canadian fans, would be pretty exciting and important to your team’s chances? The Ryder Cup has gone off on a tangent; you would never have thought in the past that it would get to be so heavily supported. I remember back in 1999 at Brookline, the American fans going off at Monty [Colin Montgomerie] and giving him plenty. I thought some of that was tacky but then some of the Americans going over to Europe have been on the receiving end of some really bad, uncalled for comments from the Europeans fans too. It’s fine to get passionate about something but you don’t have to get personal. I think the American fans are full of respect and admiration for the international players that play over there HK Golfer・JAN 2013
be really hard. I don’t want to pre-empt what I might do but if I have a high percentage of rookies that are going to make the team, I may have to look to veterans for my two captain’s picks. It will be an interesting thing. It’s certainly keeping me on my toes. Have you spoken to Norman to get his views and insights into the playing group? I haven’t but he sent me a really nice email after I was announced as captain wishing me the best of luck. I’m sure that I’ll get to talk to him at some point over the next three or four months but, I don’t want to sound negative about it, for me it’s more about my association with the players as opposed to looking at the past. I think he and I have been around the block enough to know a lot about the game and have our ideas of doing it [the captaincy] our own way. Norman suggested after the loss in 2011 he would like to see four picks, instead of two, for the Internationals and a change in format where foursomes isn’t the lead-off match. Do you have a view on that and have there been discussions with the Tour around the format for next time? Foursomes are a tough way to start, particularly for the International Team. It’s one of the things I’ve spoken to Commissioner Finchem about – changing the opening Foursomes to Fourballs for the opening match. Finchem said that they are looking at different scenarios but I’m not sure when they would make an announcement on that. Foursomes is the hardest game by far to get started and settled and it’s where, again, the Americans have a distinct advantage because of the Ryder Cup being held 12 months before. They’ll put out pretty much the same team and I’ll have maybe one or two pairings that might be the same from Melbourne, but it’s highly unlikely. About having four picks, I’ve had a great opportunity over the last four months to look at my qualification criteria. I’ve run about three or four different scenarios and the team really doesn’t change that much. Going from two to four picks, I don’t think that would help much. If I had 20 guys all playing on the PGA Tour, maybe four picks would help. However, because they’re spread all around the world, you don’t really know the depth and quality of fields to compare their form with others. One thing I will do, however, is pay a lot of attention to the guys who are winning. It doesn’t matter if you win in Australia or Asia or South Africa or Europe, winning is important. In 2011, there was much discussion about ‘local knowledge’ at Royal Melbourne, but that was quickly put to bed by the play of the Americans. What’s your take on Muirfield Village as I would have thought it’s almost a neutral venue, with
“Team golf is such a fickle thing sometimes. You can have the strongest team in the world get beaten by a more eclectic bunch that happen to click better together.” most players familiar with it from the Memorial Tournament each year? There are a lot of players who might not be in the top 15 or 16 come selection time but who play Muirfield Village very well. I’m going to have to take that into account when the time comes too. I’m a big believer in ‘horses for courses’. I spoke to Ian Poulter recently after the Ryder Cup and asked about playing under a contrived European flag against the Americans playing for their country. The Europeans seem to have it down pat, igniting a united passion in players from a disparate group of countries. [Laughing] Did anyone ever think to give him an Aussie or South African passport? Whatever the Europeans did on that Saturday night, and I think Olazábal must have done a phenomenal job with this, it was pretty evident when they got on that first tee on Sunday that they weren’t going to lie down. The two or three momentum swings back and forth were the most exciting things, but then it was all Europe in the end. The Europeans made more putts on Sunday but the question is ‘Why did they make more putts?’ I think deep down inside, I think they were more motivated on Sunday. Team golf is such a fickle thing sometimes. You can have the strongest team in the world get beaten by a more eclectic bunch that happen to click better as a ‘team’. I’ve done a lot more reading and spoken to people involved in team sports about it, although you don’t want to be too analytical about it because there is so much heart and soul involved. I’m hopeful of running into Olazábal at some stage soon. I might go up to The Masters and have a few words with him because he may be able to help me with a few ideas.
Price hoists the Wanamaker Trophy (above) in 1992 after winning the US PGA Championship for the first time; his predecessor Greg Norman (opposite) captained the Internationals on two occasions, losing both matches
full-time because there are so many of them. A lot of my team will likely come from players who play on the US Tour, so I think we’ll have plenty of support. I remember seeing Greg Norman waving his arms at Royal Melbourne at one point trying to get the crowds to make more noise. Australians must be too polite! [Laughing] I don’t think I’ve ever heard an Aussie say that Australians are too polite! Seriously though, there will be a lot of people who live in the US, from Australia, South Africa and Asia who will be behind us. A lot of people have already come out of the woodwork to ask about tickets and have been letting me know they will be there. I think we’ll be well represented at Muirfield Village, I really do. I think there will be a lot
coming down from Canada and from across the US and overseas. In 2011, Norman’s team went in with high hopes but were maybe a little shy on experience; and the experienced guys that were there weren’t in peak form. Els, Goosen and Allenby weren’t setting the world on fire and KT Kim, Baddeley, Day and even Charl Schwartzel were rookies. How do you see the balance of your own team? The way I see it, there are two things that work against us and I’ve been trying to figure them out. The first thing is that the US Team for next year is not going to be a whole lot different from the one we just saw at the Ryder Cup. That’s a good thing because we know they’re beatable; they just got beaten by Europe so they’re not infallible. The difficult thing for us is they will know their pairings better than we will know our pairings, who will play with who, so that’s a huge issue. There’s no doubt they’ll have Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson together, for example, the way they played at the Ryder Cup. We don’t really know who will play with who but that’s one of the things I need to try to work out over the next four or five months. I like it when players come to me and say “I want to play with so and so”, but sometimes you don’t want two buddies playing together. Sometimes you want the guys feeling a little nervous playing with each other because it keeps them on their toes. There are so many different permutations to this and these are the things I need to figure out. There are some exciting prospects who have emerged this year. Branden Grace and Hiroyuki Fujita have had great years in Europe and Japan, Bae Sang-moon is a talent and John Senden is a model of consistency who just missed out on the team in 2011. Exactly. Unfortunately, a lot of the guys you would think would be key members haven’t played well this year. Louis [Oosthuizen] has played well, Adam [Scott] has played well, Ernie [Els] has had a good year but then you start getting down to people like Charl Schwartzel. Charl’s played poorly by his standards this year, so has Geoff Ogilvy. KJ [Choi] has been hot and cold and Jason [Day] hasn’t had a very strong year – I’m sure he’d be the first to admit that after what he did in 2011. I’m sure three or four of those guys are going to play well over the next few months which will be important as I would like to have the majority of our players having played at least one Presidents Cup. I don’t want half the team to be rookies, although their enthusiasm is always great and I don’t want to put that in a negative light I think I really need eight ‘veterans’. You can deal with four rookies but to deal with six would
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HK Golfer・JAN 2013
| FINAL SHOT
GREAT GOLF STARTS WITH GREAT ADVICE
Paul Prendergast talks to the Zimbabwean, a three-time Major winner who takes over from Greg Norman as captain of the International Team at the Presidents Cup, which will be played this October at the Jack Nicklaus-founded Muirfield Village in Ohio. . Price, who won back-to-back Majors
When it comes to golf and investing, everyone can use a little help from the pros.
in 1994 at The Open and US PGA, knows his International Team will start as the underdogs
“Shigeki Maruyama was one of the most enthusiastic guys I’ve ever played with on a team. In 1998 at Royal Melbourne, he was full of enthusiasm and has a bubbly, effervescence about him. He was so excited when I phoned and asked him to be one of my assistants.” Was the captaincy of the International Team something that you had sought or hoped would come your way? I figured my time might come one day after Greg had done his time. I didn’t know if Greg would get a third term or not. You hope you get the call, nothing’s ever written in stone but obviously I was very pleased when I was called.
Following the announcement, how soon did you decide that you’d bring in Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone as your assistants? They gave me about eight weeks to think about who my assistants would be but I basically knew I was going to choose Mark and Tony from the get go. These are two guys I grew up with and played so much competitive golf, both with and against. Both are crafty and dogged match players who I played against 70
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in amateur golf and then with them in the old Dunhill Cup. Apart from being two of my closest friends, they are totally different players and characters. Mark is very calm, collected and methodical while Tony is more of a funny and highly motivating person. So, I have two guys at opposite ends of the spectrum, which is what you need. My third pick was [Shigeki] Maruyama because of the dynamic of our team. We’ll likely to include four or five Japanese and Korean players. I really thought he would help me with any cultural barrier if there was any, but also he was one of the most enthusiastic guys I’ve ever played with on a team. In 1998 at Royal Melbourne, he was full of enthusiasm and has a bubbly, effervescence about him. He was so excited when I phoned and asked him. He was over the moon, so I think it’s a nice mix and everyone complements each other. I’ve been talking to the boys to see what ideas they have and how we might improve our chances of winning the Cup back. How do you plan to be in touch with the players throughout the months ahead given they play all over the world, and not on just the one Tour? One of the things I want to ask the boys when they start to come together at some of the WGC events next year is to play more practice rounds together, to start to get more familiar with each other so that everyone knows each other when we get together at the Cup. I’m going to spend some more time out on the road next year to hear what they have to say, what they’re feeling. I don’t want to overor under-captain, I just want to do the right CONTINUED ON PAGE 67 HKGOLFER.COM
Hank Haney PGA Teaching Pro
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