Clubhouse: Mercedes S-Class, Parmigiani Ovale, Portuguese wine
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION VOTED THE REGION’S NO 1 GOLF MAGAZINE ISSUE 79
HKGOLFER.COM AUGUST 2013
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HK Golfer Issue 79
40 On the Cover:
Phil Mickelson won the one major few thought he would ever collect – The Open Championship – with one of the greatest final rounds in the tournament’s history. Photo by AFP
36 | On the Brink of Greatness
20 | In Focus
Muirfield’s staggering record of identifying the very best in the game at The Open continued last month following the brilliance of a rejuvenated and links-loving Phil Mickelson. By Alex Jenkins
A pictorial review of the past 30 days – both locally, regionally and globally. By The Editors
40 | Notes from Muirfield
Our watch editor takes a look at the stunning new Ovale Collection from Parmigiani Fleurier. By Evan Rast
Our award-winning European correspondent captures the highs and lows from an extraordinary week on the East Lothian coast. By Lewine Mair
A numerical look at how The Open was won and lost. By Alex Jenkins
52 | The Match
32 | Driving Range
After the unearthing of legendary Cuban photographer Alberto Korda’s images of Fidel Castro and ‘Che’ Guevara playing golf, we examine the round that could have triggered World War III. By Dale Concannon
58 | Analyse This
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
30 | Liquid Assets
Portuguese wines are starting to make their mark on a truly global scale. We look at the best – and highlight the best places in which to sample them. By Robin Lynam
44 | Numbers Game
27 | Tee Time
The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class features an astonishingly long list of new technology, which is sure to excite those in a position to afford one. By Ben Oliver
34 | Tales from the Box
Insight Sports, a Hong Kong-based technology company, is leading the way in the golf training aid sector with its state-ofthe-art iTrainer swing analysers By Charlie Schroeder
Our correspondent wraps up another month of European Tour commentating duties with a look back at his travels from Germany to Ireland to France and then to Scotland. By Julian Tutt
62 | Island Splendour
74 | Golf & Investing / 5 Minutes With ...
An easy ferry hop from Singapore, the Indonesian islands of Bintan and Batam continue to underline their status as two of Southeast Asia’s premier golf destinations. By Duncan Forgan
Tim Orgill, the managing director of Hong Kongbased Impact Golf Management Group and the reigning Hong Kong Golf Club champion. By Alex Jenkins HKGOLFER.COM
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION AUGUST 2013 • Issue 79
Editor: Alex Jenkins email: email@example.com Editorial Assistant: Cindy Kwok Playing Editor: Jean Van de Velde Senior Editor: Roy Kinnear Photo Editor: Daniel Wong Contributing Editors: Lewine Mair, Robert Lynam, Evan Rast, Ben Oliver, Julian Tutt Published by:
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Around the HKGA
48 Results 49
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61 Events 67
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HK Golfer Mailbag Kong sporting and cultural history, by covering it over in a sea of cement? If only people, the city’s lawmakers, would look at the bigger picture. There are other options, other avenues, to explore. David James Melbourne (formerly of Hong Kong)
Much in the news: the Hong Kong Golf Club
Exclusive Access? What really annoys me about the whole kerfuffle regarding the Hong Kong Golf Club and the possibility that it be redeveloped for housing has been the local media’s tone in suggesting that the club is ultra exclusive, one that is enjoyed by only a privileged few. What a load of rubbish. I’m not a member of any golf club in Hong Kong – and I certainly don’t regard myself as being one of a privileged few – but I have enjoyed countless rounds at Fanling, whether it be through playing Hong Kong Golf Association events or taking part in society days there. I am not alone. I understand that 30 per cent of the rounds at Fanling are played by non-members, while many hundreds of local villagers enjoy free access to the Old Course thanks to a deal struck by their ancestors many decades ago. Are these the hallmarks of an exclusive club? Of course not. Indeed, I know of more exclusive clubs across the border in Guangdong, which is where several (non-golfing) politicians have suggested Hong Kong golfers should instead be playing. Name and address withheld Via email
I Love Links Thanks for the recommending North Berwick Golf Club in your travel story from the last issue [Beyond the Claret Jug, page 64]. Although I didn’t get to The Open I was in Edinburgh beforehand on business and, finding myself with a free day, made the trip along the East Lothian coast after managing to secure a tee time through the club’s friendly staff. I’m very glad I did. What a place! I was lucky enough to be blessed with fine weather (something I’m told isn’t always the case in Scotland!) but it was the course itself that was the real appeal. I’ve never played links golf before – not proper links anyway – but North Berwick proved to be a wonderful experience and I enjoyed every minute. As a result I’ve decided to head back to Scotland to enjoy more of these classic courses. I just hope the weather cooperates. Kenneth Chung Via email We Want to Hear from You!
Courtesy of HKGC; Alex Jenkins
There are reportedly 250,000 unoccupied flats in Hong Kong – a great many owned by mainland speculators – and it is being suggested that the Hong Kong Golf Club, which is one of the few green spaces in the Sheung Shui locale, should be ploughed up in order for new apartment blocks to be built? This is sheer lunacy. Hong Kong has a housing problem, of that there is little doubt. Is that Fanling’s fault? Does it mean we need to destroy an environmentally friendly area, one that has played a big role in Hong
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
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Dragon Lake to Host Royal Trophy Clash
Dragon La ke Golf Club in Gua ngzhou (pictured) has been selected as the venue for the next edition of the Royal Trophy, to be played between 20-22 December, which marks the first time the competition between the continents of Asia and Europe will be held in the world’s most populous nation.
The club’s selection was approved following an extensive and competitive venue application process and comes three years after the Dick Davidson-designed course hosted the golf event at the Asian Games. The 2014 edition of the annual team event will also be played at Dragon Lake. “The Royal Trophy Players’ Committee is looking forward to a magnificent competition between Europe and Asia and a great showcase of continental team match-play golf,” stated Royal Trophy Players’ Committee Member and six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo. Under the captaincy of the late legendary Seve Ballesteros, Europe prevailed in the inaugural two editions of the Royal Trophy, which was first played in 2006. Asia was victorious in the competition’s third edition but the Europeans, led by Colin Montgomerie, secured consecutive wins in the fourth and fifth series of matches. In the latest edition, in Brunei last year, Asia prevailed following a play-off after the teams tied 8-8 in regulation play. The seventh edition of the Royal Trophy will be played in its traditional format, featuring a series of sixteen foursomes, four-ball and singles matches being contested over a period of three days. In the event of a tie, a four-ball 18th hole play-off will be undertaken.
Rose-Poulter Course to Open at Mission Hills
Mission Hills Golf Club has announced that US Open champion Justin Rose and fellow Ryder Cupper Ian Poulter will team up to create a dedicated match play course at its Shenzhen complex. 14
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The English pair (pictured), who are close friends, will work alongside architect Brian Curley to redesign the current Duval Course and will celebrate the opening of the newlynamed Rose-Poulter Course with an exhibition match on 28 October. “With the Rose-Poulter pairing and their past successes at match play, we’re placing a real focus on creating a renewed strategy that incorporates a number of risk-reward opportunities,” said Curley, who was involved in the design of 21 of Mission Hills’ 22 layouts in Guangdong and Hainan provinces. “While there will remain a strong emphasis on playability and width, we envision a more punishing course that is ultimately more interesting and demanding, yet a fun playing experience.” The course is expected to feature a number of reachable par-5s and potentially driveable par-4s. The last time the duo were at Mission Hills, last November, Poulter claimed the WGCHSBC Champions event over the Olazabal Course, with Rose finishing in a share of 24th. HKGOLFER.COM
A Unique Golfing Opportunity Awaits You Limited Corporate and Transferable Playing Right membership is now available at Yarra Yarra, an exclusive members golf club situated in the heart of the famous Melbourne Sandbelt, Australia. Located only 20 minutes from Melbourneâ€™s CBD. Immediate access to seven day playing rights For all enquiries contact: General Manager Ian Robertson Phone: 61 3 9575 0575 Email: email@example.com
The Yarra Yarra Golf Club 567 Warrigal Road, Bentleigh East, Victoria Australia www.yarrayarra.com.au
The New Scotty Cameron Futura X The putter that Adam Scott used to win The Masters – the Futura X from Scotty Cameron – goes on retail sale in Hong Kong and across the world from 1 August. Precision milled from high grade 6061 aluminum, the Futura X’s space-age design combines a rear balance bar with deep heel-toe weights plus perimeter weighting under the face which, Titleist says, creates a deep centre of gravity resulting in stability through the stroke. The Futura X (pictured), which was the direct result of Cameron’s work with the Australian prior to his maiden major victory at Augusta in April, is 20 grams heavier than a standard Cameron Select putter but according to Scott, this isn’t an issue. “The key to the performance of the putter is the perfect combination of perimeter weighting, high MOI and solid feel. I have more confidence in my stroke with this putter because of its design.” Futura X is offered in standard lengths of 33, 34 and 35 inches and comes in a Frozen Titanium finish that helps reduce glare. HK$3,900.
Liang Lands Ambassadorial Role China’s Liang Wen-chong has taken up an ambassadorial role with The R&A to support the development of golf on the mainland and to promote understanding of its Rules and values. Liang, the winner of 18 tournaments worldwide, becomes The R&A’s third Working for Golf Ambassador (the other two being Padraig Harrington and Suzann Pettersen) and attended a special signing ceremony at The Royal and Ancient clubhouse in St Andrews with Consul Degang Wan of the Chinese consulate in Edinburgh. “I am honoured to be working with The R&A and helping to promote golf and its values in China,” said 35-year-old Liang (pictured here with David Rickman and Duncan Weir of The R&A and Degang Wan on the famous Swilcan Bridge). “Golf has been good to me and this is an opportunity to give something back to the game.” Liang, who became the first mainland golfer to play in The Open when he earned a berth at the 2008 championship, has been long been committed to developing golf in his homeland. A product of Chung Shan Hot Spring Golf Club’s own junior programme back in the early 1990s, Liang won the Singapore Masters in 2007 and famously donated his winnings of US$183,000 towards growing youth golf in the region. 16
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Els to Headline Macau Open Four-time major champion Ernie Els (pictured) has confirmed his place at this year’s Venetian Macau Open, which will be played from 17-20 October at the Macau Golf and Country Club. Els, who will be making his debut at the US$800,000 Asian Tour event, finished in a tie for 26th during his Open Championship defence at Muirfield last month, and said he is eager to take on the challenge presented by the scenic Coloane layout. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about both the tournament and the city itself,” the tall South African told HK Golfer. “It sounds like a really fun place. I hear the golf course is pretty hilly and quite narrow with spectacular views. I’m looking forward to the challenge.” Si nce it s i nau g u rat ion i n 19 98 , t he tournament, which is promoted by IMG, has lured a number of the world’s best players, including major champions Vijay Singh, Nick Faldo, Fred Couples and Padraig Harrington. India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar claimed the 2012 edition of the event, winning wire-to-wire after opening with a stunning 63.
SriLankan Airlines Classic Sets October Date Woods and McIlroy: Regional amateur golfers looking for a challenge will have the opportunity to China Showdown, Part 2
AFP (Els); Alex Jenkins (Sri Lanka)
tee-off at the beautiful Victoria Golf Club near Kandy when SriLankan Airlines hold its 14th annual Golf Classic in October. This year’s tournament will take place from 23-27 October. Located in the Kandyan mountains, the Donald Steel-designed course (pictured) is surrounded on three sides by picturesque Victoria Reservoir and set amidst the native forests of central Sri Lanka. SriLankan Airlines will be offering special concessionary airfares and tour packages to all participants – anyone with a valid handicap can apply – and accompanying persons, making entry to the tournament an excellent way to combine golf with some of the island’s better-known historic and cultural sites. The competition will be contested in a 36-hole stableford format with a range of prizes on offer courtesy of SriLankan Airlines, which will be presented at the tournament closing gala dinner. For more information about the tournament visit srilankangolfclassic.com
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will face off in a second head-to-head duel in China on 28 October, in a sequel to last year’s Duel at Jinsha Lake in Zhengzhou. The world numbers one and three (pictured) will again be the only competitors in the 18hole event, which McIlroy claimed on their first encounter thanks to a 67, although Hong Kongbased Infinite Ideas International, the event organizers, have yet to name a venue. Woods, who overtook McIlroy to regain the number one ranking in late March, was keen to play again as the 14-time major winner looks to reverse last year’s loss in front of boisterous crowds. “Rory and I have played against and with each other a lot over the past few years, and he beat me in China last time so I’m looking forward to playing again. We’re good friends, but both of us love to win, so I’m expecting more great golf,” said the 37-year-old Woods, who has won 78 PGA Tour titles including four this year. HKGOLFER.COM
Local Focus Fending Off the Fog Carrie-Ann Lee drives at the seventh hole on the Diamond Course at Discovery Bay Golf Club during last month’s July Stableford competition. Despite the fog that enveloped the Lantau course’s higher holes, the 18-hole tournament was completed on schedule and saw two fine winners in Andrea Au and Leung Chi-shing. The pair recorded 33 gross stableford points each to claim the ladies’ and men’s divisions respectively. Photo by Daniel Wong
Asia Focus A Man For the Majors Hideki Matsuyama, in the company of eventual winner Phil Mickelson, plays his tee shot at the par-3 11th hole during the first round of the Open Championship. The 21 year-old Japanese adapted to the firm and fast conditions at Muirfield with aplomb to record his second successive top-10 in a major championship following another fine showing at the US Open in June. His performance wasn’t without controversy however; in an incident that echoed the one involving Guan Tianlang at the Masters, Matsuyama was penalised one-stroke for slow play on Saturday, a move his playing partner, Johnson Wagner, described as “tragic”. Photo by AFP
Global Focus Three Up For Peerless Park South Korea’s Inbee Park is showered in champagne by compatriots Na Yeon Choi and So Yeon Ryu following her four-stroke victory at the Women’s US Open in June. Park, 24, finished at eight-under-par over the seaside Sebonack Golf Club to join Babe Zaharias as the only players in LPGA history to win the first three majors of the year, a record she could improve upon at the Women’s British Open at St Andrews in August. “I just hope this isn’t a dream,” said Park. “I’m just glad that I can give it a try at St Andrews. That’s going to be a great experience. Whether I do it or not, I’m just a very lucky person.” Photo by USGA
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Away from the Fairways | TEE TIME
STRIKING A CHORD
EVAN RAST REPORTS ON PARMIGIANI’S INTRIGUING AND INSPIRING NEW COLLECTION – THE OVALE, PROOF THAT THE CLASSICAL AND THE CONTEMPORARY CAN HARMONIOUSLY COEXIST. The Parmigiani Ovale Pantographe HKGOLFER.COM
CONTINUED OVERLEAF HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
The Ovale Tourbillon
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
w o months ago in St Tropez, Parmigiani presented an entirely new line: the long-awaited Ovale collection. “It is like an artist’s technique,” Michel Parmigiani said of the eye-catching oval-shaped case measuring 45mm by 37.6mm. “You don’t process the calculations and dimensions; you just sense it is aesthetically pleasing.” This groundbreaking collection includes the Ovale Tourbillon, a limited edition Ovale Monsieur A produced in harness with the artist André Saraiva and, my personal favourite, the Ovale Pantographe. The first protot ype of the Ovale Pantographe was shown in New York nearly two years ago at Mechanical Wonders: Antique Automatons and Contemporary Watchmaking, an exhibition of mechanical masterpieces from the collection of the Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Foundation, Parmigiani’s parent company. Like the signed 1800 Vardon and Stedman pocket watch that inspired i t , t h e w a tc h i s distinguished by its The Ovale complex telescopic Pantographe hands that expand successfully embodies an d co ntr a c t to follow the contours the link between of the oval dial as Parmigiani’s they display the passing hours and contemporary minutes. watchmaking and Engineering its legacy in antique the system for the smaller Ovale was restoration more challenging than it appeared, and the watchmaker spent the following two years overcoming several issues. Aside from the intricate construction of the segmented blued titanium hands, one of the biggest challenges was solving the energy demands of the telescopic system. Parmigiani fitted its oldest movement, the manual-winding caliber PF110 that was originally created for Hebdomadaire line, with a module for the retractable hands to create the PF111 with an 8-day power reserve. Given its historical inspiration, the Ovale Pantographe successfully embodies the link between Parmigiani’s contemporary watchmaking and its legacy in antique restoration. The Ovale Pantograph comes in either rose gold or white gold. The brand’s characteristic Delta hands appoint the Ovale Tourbillon powered by the PF501 movement with a rare 30-second tourbillon, HKGOLFER.COM
The Ovale Monsieur A
completing two rotations per minute for enhanced precision. Available in rose gold with a black mother of pearl dial or a white gold dial decorated with Côtes de Genève striping, the Ovale Tourbillon is limited to 30 pieces in each version. The most surprising of the Ovale trio is the capricious Monsieur A designed by André Saraiva, better known as André, the grafitti artist who gained fame in the 1990s for spray painting the grinning, winking Monsieur A on the streets of Paris. The familiar face, with an X for one eye, appears at 12 o’clock on the watch’s dial, his trademark grin serving as a power reserve display. The eyes at 3 and 9 o’clock recall the Eye of Horus from ancient Egypt. Underneath the contemporary art dial is a beautifully hand-finished solid gold PF110 movement. “I was looking to do many different ideas,” said Saraiva. “Of course I experimented, but I went for something more sober with little symbols, more simple – sometimes it’s better.” Parmigiani will produce 10 Monsieur A watches in stainless steel – and there’s a bonus for those who make a purchase: those who wear them will gain complementary admission to Saraiva’s Le Baron nightclubs in New York, Paris, London, and Tokyo. While Michel Parmigiani admits that some of his more traditional clients may be surprised by the partnership, he emphasizes that the classical and the contemporary can harmoniously coexist. HKGOLFER.COM
The original 1800 Vardon and Stedman pocket watch The Caliber PF111
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
CLUBHOUSE | LIQUID ASSETS
MAKING THEIR MARK
PORTUGUESE WINES ARE MOVING UP IN THE WORLD. ROBIN LYNAM SELECTS HIS FAVOURITES – AND ADVISES WHERE BEST TO ENJOY THEM.
ntil quite recently the international perception The Clube Militar de Macau, home of an array of Portuguese wines was that, port excepted, of fine, moderately priced Portuguese wine fundamentally they weren’t serious. The best known were white Vinho Verde, a refreshing, quaffable, but far from complex wine from the Minho region (red Vinho Verde is also made but is, as Hugh Johnson delicately puts it, “an acquired taste”), and Mateus Rosé, a sweet, unsophisticated blush wine, launched in the 1940s. At one point Mateus Rosé accounted for 40 per cent of Portuguese wine exports, and it did for the image of the rest of Portugal’s wines what Blue Nun Liebfraumilch did for Germany’s. Times, fortunately, have changed. True, the Portuguese economy is in state of crisis, the full implications of which for the country’s many wineries are as yet unclear, but in recent years the production of serious wines there has gone from strength to strength. The Douro Valley – already well established as the port Alentejo has also emerged as a producer production region – has emerged, alongside Alentejo, as an important red wine of both reds and whites of increasingly high district, and also as a producer of white wines of both minerality and depth. quality, the latter often blends dominated by the Now port producers are also making good quality table wines. Dirk Niepoort, the fifth generation head of the still family-owned Niepoort Antao Vaz grape. It is no longer necessary to go to Macau port house, began diversification into non fortified still wines in the early 1990s. He made his first dry red in 1990, and a dry white for the first time in to source Portuguese wines, although you 1993. In 1996 Michael Broadbent, Master of Wine and an influential British wine won’t find many on the shelves at Watson’s authority, described Niepoort as “the Latour of Portugal”. Its wines, however, remain Wine Cellar. Importers in Hong Kong include Adega Royale (adegaroyale.com) and Global much more affordable than Bordeaux of equivalent quality. For both port and non-fortified red wines Touriga Nacional is the Douro’s signature Wine Cellar (gwcellar.com). Most Portuguese wines, particularly the reds, grape, but Niepoort believes that cultivating different grape varieties together in the same vineyard produces an extra dimension in the wines, absent from single varietal taste best with food, and unsurprisingly it tends to be Portuguese or Macanese restaurants that have plantings. The practice is a traditional one in the Douro Valley. So is crushing grapes by the old fashioned treading method, using shallow tanks the most extensive lists. Again you don’t have to go to Macau, although which in Portugal are called “lageres”. Around 60 per cent of Niepoort’s grapes are still there is much to be said for doing so. There crushed this way. The house’s white wines have both acidity and minerality with attractive fresh is a good list at the Casa Lisboa Portuguese fruit aromas, and are altogether more serious whites than most people would expect Restaurant and Bar on the eighth floor of the Lan Kwai Fong Tower in Central, with a particularly from Portugal – fine examples of the new generation of Douro wines. The reds are elegant and peppery, with fine, well resolved tannins, and a silkiness strong representation from the Douro. If you are going to Macau, however, there are that recalls their fortified cousins, but at much lower levels of alcohol. In 2003 Niepoort was among the founder members of an informal alliance a number of restaurants with strong Portuguese of high quality Douro wine producers, which also includes Quinta Do Vallado, Quinta wine lists. These include The Clube Militar Do Vale D Maria, Quinta Do Vale Meao, and Quinta Do Crasto. Collectively they call (clubemilitardemacau.net), which is among the themselves, lightheartedly, “The Douro Boys” and their wines (and ports) are available more moderately priced of the town’s Portuguese restaurants, the pricier Litoral (restaurante-litoral. in both Hong Kong and Macau. Other names to look out for among leading producers of non-fortified Douro reds com) and the more rustic and unfailingly friendly Antonio on Taipa (antoniomacau.com). include Barca Velha and Quinta do Cotto.
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
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BEST IN CLASS
THE NEW MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS FEATURES AN ASTOUNDINGLY LONG LIST OF NEW TECHNOLOGY, WHICH IS SURE TO EXCITE THOSE IN A POSITION TO AFFORD ONE, WRITES BEN OLIVER.
long black Mercedes-Benz S-Class has long been favoured by border is just 35. Highlights include the LED cabin dictators – Robert Mugabe’s is reportedly so heavily armoured lighting which seems to pour from every crevice that it requires its own fuel truck to follow it on longer trips – and in your choice of acid-trip purples and reds, or by bankers who want to slip subtly from airport to skyscraper to cooler tones, if you prefer. mansion. So in tough times, should the rest of the world care that an But the back seats are arguably the most all-new S-class has arrived? important in an S-class. Here, Yes it should. As the pinnacle of the Mercedes-Benz range, the accommodation has gone Externally, the new first-class, with the option of the S-class gets everything this storied carmaker knows about carmaking. Previous generations of S-class have helped two individual rear chairs, the car is handsome, pioneer safety systems we now take for granted on humbler one behind the passenger seat well-resolved but cars, such as anti-lock brakes and stability control. When you stretching out airline-style with a subtle ... inside, the calf-rest, the seat in front motoring read about the extraordinary safety features on this new S, you might wonder why Mercedes is going to so much trouble to S is simply beautiful. out of your way. Optional screens save the lives of the well-heeled. But keep in mind that many can play movies, of course, but of these features are so expensive that they have to be cost also display the same kind of ‘inoptions even on the pricey S. Putting them into production here starts the process flight’ information about your journey as you of getting that price down, and getting them into more cars. find on a plane. Stretch out back here and you Externally, the new car is handsome, well-resolved but subtle. Right now, those keep expecting a stewardess to appear at your bankers don’t want anything too conspicuous. Inside, the new S is simply beautiful, shoulder with champagne and mini-pretzels. its cabin executed with a verve and wit that reflects the fact that China is now the The ride is even more impressive: cloud-like air biggest market for this car, and that the average age of its customers across the springs are standard, but the optional Magic Body 32
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
SCORECARD How much? HK$1,818,000 Engine:
455PS at 5,250rpm
0-100kph in 4.8secs, 250kph
How heavy? 2,075kgs
Control system is new and frankly weird. It can spot obstacles ahead such as speed bumps, and control the suspension to allow the S to glide over them as if they just weren’t there. Rolls-Royces ride very well, but an S-class equipped with this system is just in a different league. And what of those safety systems? This car is so safe it now has airbags in the seatbelts. It can detect a car approaching too fast from behind, and prepare itself and you for a rear-end collision. It can see a child in the road ahead and stop itself. It can even spot, in the dark, a human or animal that seems to be moving across your path, and tell the difference between the two, flashing its headlights at the human, but not the animal, which might be startled and freeze. Yes, this is a car for the one-per-cent. But it’s hard not to be impressed by a carmaker at the peak of its game making the very best car it can, and hard not to be excited by the preview it offers of features we’ll all soon enjoy. HKGOLFER.COM
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
| TALES FROM THE BOX
Julian Tutt wraps up another month of European Tour commentating duties with a look back at his travels from Germany to Ireland to France and then Scotland for the Open Championship.
Daniel Wong (Tutt); AFP (McIlroy and Mickelson)
river: not a particularly interesting word in itself, but one with many different con notat ions. Equa l ly “driving” has many different u ses. T hey a re word s that will feature extensively in my peripatetic perambulations of the last month. It all started at the 25th BMW International in Munich, where my hire car was a zippy Audi A3, with a pop-up GPS display worthy of a fighter jet. This was in marked contrast to the under-powered, ill-equipped wheelbarrows that we normally get. It meant that I was able to prolong the motoring experience through beautiful Bavarian villages, and along uncluttered country roads in the certain knowledge that I would eventually arrive at my required destination. It turned out to be a spectacular week, with Ernie Els in top driving form to win (the week after tying for fourth place in the US Open at Merion), the players enjoying driving some seriously meaty BMWs around the local test track, and the plague of mosquitoes, caused by the unseasonably wet weather driving us all nuts.
Rory McIlroy (right) followed a poor showing at the Irish Open with an even poorer one at Muirfield, which led to many pointing the figure of blame on his new driver; Phil Mickelson (opposite with Butch Harmon) had no such worries, winning back-to-back titles at the Scottish Open and the Open Championship – without a driver in the bag 34
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fortunately, being the good sport that he is, Denis saw the funny side of it too. The week had begun with much talk about Rory McIlroy’s driver, which another Nike player (who shall remain nameless) had described as unusable. Rory had been such an artist with his Titleist driver, regularly flying it 300 yards straight down the middle, that it is no surprise he is showing increasing signs of frustration. It was a body blow to the tournament when all four of Ireland’s major champions – McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington – missed the cut. I have witnessed McIlroy at first hand often and it strikes me he does not have a “B” game. When it is not working well, he really struggles to get it round, and in the process he gives the, no doubt false, impression that he perhaps does not really care too much. When he and Tiger Woods played
I was also on driving duty the next week in Ireland, where I was fellow commentator Denis Hutchinson’s chauffeur, ensuring that the venerable 81 year-old was where he was supposed to be at any given time. I succeeded for the most part except for the occasion when he took a break from the box to slip across to the excellent halfway house for a delicious beef burger. Unfortunately we were struck by a massive squall at just that moment and he came back sodden from head to foot. I suffered a giggling fit, and HKGOLFER.COM
together in Abu Dhabi earlier this year both men were hitting some awful shots, but the contrast was stark. Tiger’s determination to find a way to get it round earned huge respect. Reports in Ireland that Rory was seen texting on his mobile phone during the round, merely add to the feeling that his head is not in the right place, a fact that he admitted later at The Open. The failure of the Irish, and the intermittently damp conditions, allowed Paul Casey with his specially doctored “wet weather” driver (see July’s column) to return to the winner’s circle after a lengthy break. The Montgomerie Course at Carton House is in the grounds of an 1,100 acre estate that for centuries had belonged to the Earls of Kildare. The 20th Earl’s wife, Lady Emily, had been largely responsible for laying out the grounds. How she found time to do that in between producing 23 children heaven only knows! David Howell’s wife, also named Emily, found out that week that the child she thought she was carrying was in fact two. Not quite in Lady Emily’s league, but apparently disconcerting nonetheless. Having missed the cut in Ireland, McDowell continued his extraordinary record by winning in France. Eight tournaments played, five cuts missed, three tournaments won. He did it by dropping only four shots on a brutally tough National course, where many players scorecards were littered with double bogeys and worse. The championship director, our own Hong Kong resident Jean Van de Velde, must take huge credit for a brilliantly staged championship. Whilst many of the players looked like redundant extras from Les Misérables, his crew are on course to producing a venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup that will take some beating. I was entrusted with driving duties for a third week running, which around Paris is always a little nerve-wracking. I came to rely heavily on yet another Emily (the voice of my GPS) who steered me unerringly to the airport on Sunday night on a southerly route around the French capital that I had never tried before. My colleagues who tackled the notorious Boulevard Périphérique ran into accident holdups and only made the flight by a whisker. I was into my third gin and tonic in the lounge by then, and only gloating slightly ... Driving was also a hot topic at The Open at Muirfield. With bone dry fairways and thick rough there was always going to be a premium on straight hitting, but length was not necessarily an issue. Brett Rumford was one of a number of players who did not carry a driver at all, preferring to carry two 3-woods, having HKGOLFER.COM
Butch Harmon described Mickelson as “the left handed Seve”, and with his win in East Lothian, Phil drew alongside Ballesteros with five majors apiece. It is a comparison that even the great Spaniard would probably accept. had an extra one especially made up for The Open. Of course, Phil Mickelson went driverless too, relying on his strong Callaway 3-wood, the Phrankenwood. Hitting the par-five 17th into the stiff wind on Sunday with two of them, when none of the others could reach using a driver, will live long in the memory. His birdie there was probably the moment he sealed his sensational victory. At the start of the week, I had sat at the feet of Butch Harmon, who coaches Mickelson, for my annual insight into the American’s world. He is always riveting to listen to. He felt then that Phil was ready at last to win a title they had both for long doubted he had the necessary skills to win. Harmon described Mickelson as “the left handed Seve”, and with his win in East Lothian, Phil drew alongside Ballesteros with five majors apiece. It is a comparison that even the great Spaniard would probably accept. Mickelson’s putting was as good, if not better than it has ever been, and some of his artistry around the greens would have had Seve purring with delight. His 32 on the treacherous back nine on Sunday was only the fifth all week, and was born of his indefatigable spirit (Harmon says he is the most resilient golfer he has ever met), and a willingness to attack when others (notably Tiger) had gone into a defensive shell. I do not believe there was a soul there who begrudged Mickelson his triumph. It was pure theatre, and the reward for 20 years of hard labour. It was the fifth time that he had won back-to-back tournaments, and the second time that he had won a major the week after winning a regular tour event. Perhaps the Scottish Open is not such a bad prelude after all? Mr McDowell, please note! The Ulsterman had earlier and most uncharacteristically dismissed the Castle Stuart course and questioned the relevance of the tournament as an Open warm-up. The BBC commentators were in top form at The Open, but no one could match Ken Brown for his colourful similes. He described a ball chasing down the fairway as “running like an Ethiopian chicken”. Who knows what an Ethiopian chicken looks like but most people thought it was descriptive and funny, apart from his bosses who adopted a Queen Victoria like stance on the matter. Their lack of amusement would perhaps be better directed at why so little was seen of Mickelson until he had practically won the darn thing. And on that note I am off to the range. Now, where’s my driver? HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
THE OPEN | REVIEW
Muirfield’s staggering record of identifying the very best in the game at The Open continues following the brilliance of a rejuvenated and links-loving Phil Mickelson, writes Alex Jenkins.
hat a difference a month makes. Just four weeks before touching down on Scottish soil Phil Mickelson was ruing what he described as his worst ever loss at the US Open – and coming from a man who has now had six runner-up finishes at his national championship, that was really saying something. Father’s Day, the final round at Merion, and Mickelson was looking for all the world like he was going to end the pain. The proud family man, who had taken an overnight, cross-country flight on the eve of the championship so he could watch his daughter’s eighth grade graduation, had a one-shot lead going into the final round. It was also his 43rd birthday. Surely, this was moment the stars were going to align. It was his time. Not a chance. Lefty squandered his advantage with a cruel mixture of poor wedge play and sloppy putting, allowing the seemingly nerveless Justin Rose to pass him by and earn his first major. Such are the pampered lives that modern touring professionals lead that it’s usually rather difficult to feel sorry when things don’t go their way. But in this instance even the most cynical of scribes wouldn’t have begrudged him an ounce or two more luck. When asked what he could take out of the week at Merion, the ashen-faced Mickelson replied, “Only heartache.” So it was with no small amount of surprise 36
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Nobody is meant to birdie four of the last six holes to win The Open, least of all an unpredictable American who in his first 17 appearances at the championship had claimed only one top-10 finish. HKGOLFER.COM
Phil Mickelson coaxes his final putt of the championship into the bottom of the cup for a truly grandstand finish; Lee Westwood could barely find a fairway in the final round as he recorded an eighth top-three placing in a major championship HKGOLFER.COM
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Tiger Woods and Adam Scott (above) couldn’t handle Mickelson’s pace on an engrossing final day; Ian Poulter came from nowhere with his final-round 67 to earn a share of third 38
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that his trip across the Atlantic would reap such huge rewards. First up, the Scottish Open, Mickelson’s traditional pre-Open Championship workout. He’d never won it before, but on a hard and fast Castle Stuart track Lefty put behind his disappointment and took hold of the course by the scruff of the neck. Wonderful iron play, married with a masterful short game earned him a play-off win over South Africa’s Branden Grace. It was his first ever victory on European soil. It was thrilling stuff but even so, the Open Championship is a different test altogether. Castle Stuart, undoubtedly one of the finest modern courses in the British Isles, was playing generously; the rough was almost non-existent, allowing Mickelson the leeway he tends on occasion to need. Indeed, as we edged closer to The Open, all the talk was of Mickelson’s fellow countryman, Tiger Woods, the opinion being that Mickelson would struggle with Muirfield’s fearsome tall grass and the need to play the ball more along the ground. This was real links golf. The purest form of the game. Popular Phil was the guy who hits the flop shot. Tiger, back to form and looking as focused as ever, was the master tactician. He was the man to beat. This looked to be the case going into Sunday’s final round. Woods trailed England’s Lee Westwood by just two shots. Westwood, the undisputed crowd favourite, had suffered his own fair share of major heartache but Britain,
basking under cloudless skies, was expecting. And who could blame them? Almost a year since the London Olympics – which were a resounding success for the home nation – Andy Murray had won Wimbledon, Rose had emerged victorious at Merion, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome had triumphed at the Tour de France and the English cricket team were hammering the Australians in The Ashes. There has never been a better time to be a British sports fan. Alas, it wouldn’t continue. Westwood couldn’t find a fairway in that final round and his upuntil-then brilliance on the greens went AWOL. Adam Scott, who had banished his own major demons at Augusta in April, looked all at sea with his belly-putter. Ian Poulter was on fire after coming from nowhere but then bogeyed the tough 16th to effectively end his hopes. As for Woods, well he was hardly a factor. Tiger has never won a major when behind heading into Sunday, and things weren’t about to change. Rory McIlroy had worn a face of pure misery on his way to missing the cut by some margin two days earlier, but Tiger nearly outdid him such was his own look of despair. Woods is too fine a player not to win another major but the argument against him breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record haul gets stronger by the tournament. Which brings us back to Mickelson. Five strokes back after the third round, there was barely a whisper from the media. It was only after he birdied the ninth hole on Sunday to turn in HKGOLFER.COM
two-under and find himself well in the reckoning that the BBC decided to it might be a good idea to start showing some of his play. And what play it was. Muirfield has the amazing knack of producing brilliant champions, and Mickelson, who waltzed in with that majestic 66 – the equal low round of the tournament – is definitely that. Four birdies in the final six holes – and a near miraculous par save at the treacherous par-three 16th – is the stuff of legend. Nobody is meant to be able to do that, least of all an unpredictable American who in his first 17 appearances at The Open had claimed only one top-10 finish. Once the dust had settled an hour after Mickelson had holed that curling 10-footer on the last to a standing ovation, Dan Jenkins, the famed American writer who has covered nearly every major championship since the 1950s, told me he classed Mickelson’s performance in the same league as Nicklaus’ own come-from-behind effort to win the 1986 Masters. Jenkins isn’t prone to hyperbole – and nor is Phil. “This is a day and a moment I will cherish forever,” the Champion Golfer of the Year said while still clutching the Claret Jug an hour after the presentation ceremony. “It took me a while how to figure out to play links conditions – it has been the biggest challenge for me to overcome – but now that I have done I couldn’t be happier. It might be the best moment of my whole career.” It just might. HKGOLFER.COM
2013 Open Championship Results 1
69 74 72 66
70 70 74 70
72 71 75 67
72 68 70 75
71 72 70 72
66 75 73 72
71 73 72 70
69 71 72 74
72 72 68 75
69 74 72 72
69 72 73 74
68 79 69 72
13= Miguel Angel Jimenez
68 71 77 73
74 70 74 71
75 74 70 71
15= Keegan Bradley
Eduardo De La Riva
73 73 75 69
74 71 75 70
74 73 72 71
75 68 76 71
75 72 72 71
67 74 76 74
21= Rafa Cabrera-Bello
72 71 76 72
76 70 76 69
75 73 68 75
75 75 68 73
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THE OPEN | NOTEBOOK
Lewine Mair captures on the highs and lows from a wild and wonderful week.
s u a l l y, it i s a c a s e o f youngsters ringing their parents to report on a good day ’s work on the golf course. On Open Thursday, it was the other way about as such older hands as Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman and Miguel Ángel Jiménez were up among the leaders.
O’Meara, though, is one who does not hurry to ring home. Instead, he plays it cool, leaving it for his kids – aged 26 and 23 – to get in touch if they feel so inclined. “Sometimes they send a text, sometimes an e-mail and sometimes they don’t send anything,” said the 1998 champion, who is now 56 and into his sixth year on the Champions Tour. “It used to bother me when they didn’t but it doesn’t now.” Especially on a day like the Friday when he was out in 40 and on his way to adding a 78 to his first-round 67. In all, five proud and wily seniors – O’Meara, Lehman, Freddie Couples, Peter Senior and Sandy Lyle – made the cut. The quintet gave a fresh burst of hope to millions on the wrong side of 50 who had started to wonder if Tom Watson’s second place finish at Turnberry in 2009 was just a figment of their imaginations. Lehman, in assessing how things worked for the older golfer, said that the good rounds could be much the same as they ever were but that the bad rounds were a whole lot worse: “You don’t hit as far as you did and bunkers that are out of play for the youngsters are in play for us.” 40
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In all, five proud and wily seniors – O’Meara, Lehman, Freddie Couples, Peter Senior and Sandy Lyle – made the cut ... the quintet gave a fresh burst of hope to millions on the wrong side of 50. Couples, who finished this year’s Open in a share of 32nd place, would have been proud of the way he improved with age over the four days of the championship, with his scoring sequence one of 75, 74, 73 and 71. Not, mind you, that anyone picked up on it. On Sunday, the questions directed to this former Masters champion were more about the feats of his young amateur playing companion, England’s Matthew Fitzgerald, who won the Silver Medal with scores of 73, 76, 73 and 72. Rory McIlroy must be fed up to the back teeth with everyone, from Sir Nick Faldo, to the media, giving their opinions on where he has been going wrong. Yet there is one criticism on which everyone, including the player himself, is agreed. Namely, that his 2013 schedule has been a disaster. This has nothing to do with those around him. Instead, it is all down to the way he is trying to negotiate two circuits at once, his own and Caroline Wozniacki’s. Things were so much simpler in the days when he went out with an Irish girl named Holly. Then, the only dates which his manager of the day, Chubby Chandler, had to take into account were Holly’s school holidays. HKGOLFER.COM
Clockwise from top: Open legends Tom Watson and Sir Nick Faldo were paired together over the opening rounds – and both missed the cut; as did Rory McIlroy whose repeated choice of driver off the tee puzzled many; Mark O’Meara rolled back the years with a first-round 67 but slipped back shortly afterwards
At the start of the week, Bob Rotella, the mind-man who shepherded Darren Clarke in the hours before his final starting time at Royal St George’s in 2011, gave a telling interview on what goes into the winning of the Claret Jug. “Thursday morning,” he began, “is all about the mental game, about finding a mental place in which you can get yourself to do all the things you can do so easily on the practice range. HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
Clockwise from top: Miguel Ángel Jiménez led the way after 36 holes but found bunker trouble over the weekend; Dr Bob Rotella and Darren Clarke, one of his many golf pro clients; Graeme McDowell’s less than flattering comments about the Scottish Open in the lead up to the championship rather backfired after Phil Mickelson’s triumph at Muirfield 42
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“The first tee,” he continued, “is challenging enough, but the scale of the challenge on the Sunday is bigger by far – and reaches a crescendo with the final putt.” In which connection, he said that a player does best to go with his first instincts. “When someone has a putt to win and his first look tells him that it is straight, he will often say to himself, ‘It can’t be straight, you can’t have that easy a putt to win the Open’. He will then start looking from a host of different angles and that’s almost always a mistake. “After trusting his first instincts and committing to the line, he must ‘see’ the putt going in the hole before following his usual routine and ‘letting it happen’.” Which is much the same as the feeling that Phil Mickelson ascribed to all his putts as he came down the stretch on the Sunday. “I just putted those greens phenomenally – some of the best I’ve ever putted. The birdies kind of happened; they weren’t forced.” On a rather different tack, Rotella talked of the different nationalities and the very different traits they bring to bear. He said that the attitude of Australians and South Africans was in the same league, with both loving the game to the point where “winning is not their only reason for joy”. In the UK, he thought that top golfers had a problem from their peers who, instead of enjoying their success, were apt to send out the message, “You’re no longer one of us ...” He described the Americans as more of a
‘win-at-all-costs’ people who, if they are not winning, see themselves as losers. Yet he said that he had noticed a sea change in the American psyche over the last few years. Where once their winners would be treated as Gods, they are nowadays starting to get a bit of flak when something goes wrong. “If they want to stay great, they have to learn to handle it,” said Rotella. He likened the Spaniards to the South Americans in being very emotional – a characteristic he sees as a thoroughly good thing, particularly when someone is playing well. “Most cultures teach people to keep their feelings under wraps but I have no problem with someone like Sergio Garcia who talks openly about everything, from his golf to his girlfriends. He says what he really thinks and it mostly works well for him.” Rotella was not about to put Asian golfers in the same category to Spaniards. To him, they are at the other end of the spectrum, though he notes that the different Asian lands turn out different golfers. He believes that Koreans, for instance, are tougher than their Japanese neighbours, more focused and more aggressive. “The worst guys out there,” he said in relation to the overall field at Muirfield, “are those guys who over-react to every bad shot and don’t enjoy the good ones.” At the previous week’s Scottish Open, much was made of Graeme McDowell’s – and others’ – criticisms of the Castle Stuart course. The gist of what they had to say was that the course did not make for a good test immediately prior to The Open. Others promptly pointed to how, in each of HKGOLFER.COM
It was Graeme McDowell’s caddie who said that he had never seen more players having to exit the bunkers in a less-than-orthodox fashion. Some contestants were on their knees as they played from a bunker’s upper or side lip. the two previous years, the Claret Jug had been won by Scottish Open players – Darren Clarke in 2011 and Ernie Els in 2012. It was Els who predicted that if the same thing happened three years in a row, which it now has, every golfer in the world would be rushing to the Scottish Open. What is more the fact that the 2014 installment is to be held at Royal Aberdeen would be virtually irrelevant; they would go if the event were being staged on a nine-hole course in Thurso. Mickelson predicted at his final pressconference at Castle Stuart that the manner in which he had won his Scottish Open title could serve him well at Muirfield. To recap, he had two putts from 15 feet to win from Branden Grace. His young family, who had been in the players’ lounge, were ushered out to the 18th green to see the denouement, only for their father to take three putts. The children stayed put for a play-off down the 18th in which everything came right as Mickelson tied things up with a delicious little approach from short of the green. “The way I was able to re-focus and finally get the job done has helped me to pick up confidence for next week,” he said. Body language spoke louder than anything else when Mickleson detonated that last-green roar at Muirfield, the one which told everyone that the Open-championship-winning putt had just been holed. HKGOLFER.COM
Those still out on the course slumped as one, their thrill for the chase exhausted. One moment the cameras would pick up on these disheartened and deflated souls playing their way back to base and, the next, there would be a shot of Mickelson in one of his happy family huddles beside the home green. If that particular juxtaposition of events will furnish one abiding image of the 2013 Open, the Muirfield bunkers will provide another. It was Ken Comboy, Graeme McDowell’s caddie, who said that he had never seen more players having to exit the hazards in a less-thanorthodox fashion. Some contestants were on their knees as they played from a bunker’s upper or side lip, others had one leg in the trap and one out. Jiménez, who played so well for so long before finishing in a share of 13th place, was pictured on the practice days playing a bunker shot on his knees whilst smoking his trademark cigar. So good was the result that you half expected this one-of-a-kind Spaniard to bring out the cigar when he had much the same shot to play again during his second-round 71. The emcee at an HSBC luncheon asked Gary Player how many press-ups he did a day. “Twelve hundred,” answered Player. The emcee then turned to Colin Montgomerie, another HSBC ambassador. “And how many do you do?” “Twelve hundred fewer,” came the reply. HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
| NUMBERS GAME
The Open in Review
The number of drivers that champion Phil Mickelson carried in his bag on his way to his maiden O p en Championship victory. Lefty eschewed the big stick – as he had done at the US Open at Merion in June – and relied on his 3-wood, hybrid and long irons off the tees at Muirfield. To make up for the missing club, Mickelson added a fifth wedge with 64 degrees of loft.
reckoning. The Open was the 62nd time Westwood had competed in a major.
The number of years in a row that The Open has been won by a player over the age of 40. Forty-three yearold Mickelson follows Ernie Els (42 at Royal Lytham last year) and Darren Clarke (42 at Royal St George’s in 2011). The number of top-three finishes Lee West wood has had in major championships without winning one, which is a new record. The Englishman took a two-shot lead heading into the final round only to shoot a 75 and fall out of the
It has been this many years since a “home” player won The Open. Third round leader Westwood and Ian Poulter, who carded a fine 67 in the final round, were the top British players, finishing in a share of third. O liver Fisher made this many birdies during the week, which was more than any other player. Fisher, an Englishman, finished the tournament in a share of 32nd. The American trio of
The eighth hole, a 441yard par-4, played this much over par during the week, making it the hardest at Muirfield.
By contrast, the 554-yard ninth ranked the easiest, playing 0.26 under its par of five.
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Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker and Harris English tied for second in this particular category with 16.
T he age difference, in years, b et we en Tom Wat son, the oldest competitor at the Open and amateur Matt Fitzpatrick, who was the youngest. Five-time Open champion Watson, who turns 64 in September, failed to make the cut, while 18-year-old Fitzpatrick not only made the weekend action, he also collected the Silver Medal for being low amateur.
The reported percentage that Mickelson will be taxed on his Open Championship earnings. Mickelson “won” £945,000, but the United Kingdom’s Inland Revenue will take nearly half of that, while his home state of California will reap the rewards too, claiming a shade over 13 per cent of the total.
The cost, in pounds sterling, of a daily ticket at The Open, which many decried as too expensive and the cause of the attendance drop at Muirfield compared to 2002 when the championship was last held here. Official figures put the attendance at 142,000 for the week, a 10 per cent drop. While children under the age of 16 were allowed in free of charge (as long as they were accompanied by an adult), and concessions were given to those aged 16 to 21, there was no discount for seniors.
B est ball-striking of the week h o n o u r s w e nt to Sw e d e n’s Henrik Stenson, who found this percentage of greens in regulation, the highest of the field. Stenson was also the most accurate off the tee, hitting 80 per cent of the fairways. Mickelson, by contrast, was forced to rely on his short game.
The American found just 64 per cent of the greens, but averaged 29.25 putts per round.
The length, in yards, that Charl Schwartzel hit his d r i v e a t t h e 15t h h o l e during the third round which established a new Open Championship distance record. Amazingly, Schwartzel’s ball ended up on the green just six feet from the cup – but unfortunately for the South African he would miss the putt for eagle.
Clockwise from above: low amateur Fitzpatrick; Woods at the eighth, the hardest hole; Stenson led the ballstriking stats; Schwartzel crushed a 450-yard drive; Fisher made more birdies than anyone else; fans stumped up £75 per day for a ticket; Westwood now has eight top-three finishes in majors; Mickelson will likely pay 61% tax on his winnings
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
A Statement Regarding the HKGA’s Views on Golf Clubs in Hong Kong In response to the recent news coverage regarding land usage by the golf clubs in Hong Kong, and the decision of the Special Development Panel meeting in LegCo in late July, the HKGA is disappointed with this development and believes that golf clubs in Hong Kong provide golfing facilities not only for their members but also for the general golfing public, the many overseas visitors that come to the SAR, as well as the development of Hong Kong’s amateur golf internationally. In comparison, Hong Kong’s five golf clubs have 189 golf holes for our population while Singapore has at least 378 holes for theirs.
Rory McIlory en route to winning the 2011 Hong Kong Open
Enhancement of Amateur Golf Internationally The clubs also support the Hong Kong squads – the men’s, ladies’ and junior teams that represent Hong Kong internationally – with regular access in order to practice and prepare for tournaments, which has led to considerable success at events around the world. Driving ranges, too, play their part by allowing HKGA squads further facilities to practice but with the closing down of many driving ranges, it will be even more important for the golf clubs to take up the shortage of these facilities. The HKGA has no facilities of its own and must rely on all golf clubs and driving ranges whether private or public to support its mission in training and coaching players for Hong Kong. The HKGA squad, which currently consists of mostly juniors, has 110 members. Some like Michelle Cheung, the 2013 Hong Kong Ladies Close Amateur champion, have received scholarships to study abroad because of golf while others like Eva Yoe, Liu Lok Tin, Wong Woon Man to name a few were members before turning professional.
With golf’s newly acquired status as an Olympic sport, the need for Hong Kong golfers to have the facilities to play and practice and to compete is as vital now as it has ever been.
The Fanling Site – The Only Venue for the Hong Kong Open The Fanling site has hosted numerous HKGA amateur tournaments over the years and more importantly, has been home to the Hong Kong Open since 1959. The Hong Kong Open is a co-sanctioned tournament between the Asian and European Tours and is the oldest professional sporting event in Hong Kong. Logistics are crucial in staging an international event of this magnitude, and Fanling has the space to ensure that this extremely popular event is smoothly run. The spectator experience at the Hong Kong Open is second to none which explains why the number of golf fans – from both home and abroad – increases every year.
Michelle Claims Maiden AJGA Title
Charles McLaughlin (McIlroy)
Hong Kong’s Michelle Yan captured her first American Junior Golf Association championship title at the Junior All-Star at Red Tail Golf Club in Ohio late June. Fourteen year-old Yan (pictured here at the 2011 Optimist International Junior Golf Championship) led wire-to-wire to win by one stroke in the Girls’ Division with the Bridgestone Award first-round low score of 69. Yan cemented her victory with a gutsy 18-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole of the final round before finishing with two straight pars. She finished on a three-round total of 218 (four-over par), a oneshot victory over Allyson Geer in second place. “The whole time I knew (Geer) was right behind me,” said Yan. “I just told myself to focus and concentrate on my own game.” Michelle’s 12 year-old sister Vanessa finished the event in 16th place. 46
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HKGA | RESULTS
Hong Kong Solid at Putra and Santi Cups Tiffany Chan was Hong Kong’s star performer at the 53rd Southeast Asia Amateur Team Championship, which was staged at Sherwood Hills Golf and Country Club near Manila at the end of June. Chan finished second in the individual standings of the ladies’ Santi Cup after recording a fourround total of 291 (three-over-par) over the demanding Jack Nicklausdesigned course. The result was the best ever by a Hong Kong player in the competition’s history and enabled the Hong Kong team, which also comprised Michelle Cheung and Isabella Leung, to place fifth in the overall standings behind the champions, Malaysia. In the men’s Putra Cup, Jason Hak and Matthew Cheung produced solid displays, including a pair of final-round 68s, as the Hong Kong team matched their female counterparts with a fifth place
showing. Hak’s 285 total earned him seventh spot in the individual event, with Cheung also securing a top-10 place after finishing three shots further back. The Philippines reclaimed the team title after last winning the event in 1996. “It was a good effort on a course that was playing firm, which was something our players aren’t really used to,” said national coach Brad Schadewitz. “Tiffany played particularly well, and Jason and Matthew fought back strong, so there’s a lot to take out of the week.” In the junior events – the boys’ Lion City Cup and girls’ Kartini Cup, which were played concurrently with the main events – Hong Kong finished in sixth and fourth place respectively. Kitty Tam was the standout performer here, her four-round total of 304 earning her eighth place on the individual leaderboard.
Kitty Gets Tour Off to A Flyer
Daniel Wong (Chan); Joanne Mckee (Tam and Ho)
Playing in the first event on the HKGA junior squad’s traditional summer tour of the United States, Kitty Tam claimed a marvellous win at the Toyota Tour Cup Series – Santa Ana event in California in mid-July. The talented youngster opened up with successive one-under-par rounds of 71 before coasting to a 75 and an impressive seven-shot win at the tournament, which is part of the PGA of Southern California’s Junior Tour. There was more good news for Hong Kong as it was Tam’s teammate, Mimi Ho, who was her
closest challenger. Although she wasn’t at her best over the first two rounds – Ho opened with a 75 and carded a lackluster 80 in the second round –she roared back to form with a brilliant 69, the lowest round of the tournament, to capture second place. “Kitty and Mimi have given us the perfect start, but there’s going to be tougher tests coming up,” said national coach Brad Schadewitz. A full report of the junior summer tour will appear in the September issue of HK Golfer.
Kitty Tam and Mimi Ho (right) got the HKGA junior summer tour of the United States off to a great start 48
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
HKGA | NEWS
Pre-Teen Phenom Lucy Li continues to amaze the golfing world.
Earlier in the year, the 10-year-old Hong Kong resident made headlines by qualifying for the US Women’s Public Links Championship, then in June became the youngest ever to reach the match-play portion of the event, surpassing a mark previously set by Michelle Wie. On 11 July, Li again entered the USGA record books by becoming the youngest ever to qualify for the US Women’s Amateur. T he d i m i nut ive Li, who is ba sed i n California and weighs in at just 80 pounds, fired a five-over 75 in the 18-hole sectional qualifier at Sequoyah Country Club in Oakland to become one of eight women to advance from the 62-player field. Li’s score, which came after she birdied two of the last three holes, put her in a tie for fifth, four shots behind medalist Mariko Tumangan and one shot better than the minimum score needed to qualify. When this US Women’s Amateur begins this month (5 August), Li will be 10 years, 10 months and four days old, barely surpassing the record set just last year by Latanna Stone, who was 10 years, 11 months and two days old when she teed it up at The Country Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Go Lucy!
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
HKGA | TOURNAMENTS
2013 HKGA Interclub League Standings Holes
Albert Lai Wins for Bibendum and Queenie
Played Won Lost Net
Hong Kong GC
Discovery Bay GC
Shek O CC
Clearwater Bay G&CC
Results as of 13 July Remaining fixtures: 3 August: CWB v DBGC 17 August: CWB v SOCC
Bibendum Leung and Queenie Lai (right) were the big winners at the Albert KW Lai Junior Championship, which was played over the New Course at the Hong Kong Golf Club last month. In the overall boys’ division, Leung rolled in a long par putt to defeat Leon Philip D’Souza on the first play-off hole after the pair had tied with 34 stableford points in regulation play. Lai also required extra holes to emerge victorious in the overall girls’ division, after she tied with Emilie Vickie Leung on 31 points.
HKGA July Stableford Tournament Discovery Bay Golf Club 16 JULY MEN’S RESULTS
Men’s winner Leung Chi-shing with the HKGA’s Dolla Chui
Ladies’ champion Andrea Au 50
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
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HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
After the unearthing of legendary Cuban photographer Alberto Korda's images of Fidel Castro and 'Che' Guevara playing golf, Dale Concannon takes a closer look at the round that could have triggered World War III. Photography by Alberto Korda, courtesy of Dominic Winter Auctioneers / BNPS / Old Golf Images
Taking aim: ‘Che’ Guevara (crouching) looks on as Fidel Castro attempts a short putt during their one and only round at Colinas de Villareal Golf Club in Havana
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
Castro (above) reportedly carded a round of 127, good enough for a 23-shot win over Guevara; after failing to get a game with President Eisenhower during a trip to the US, Castro (opposite) cut short his visit, returned to Cuba, and ordered the flattening of all the country’s courses 54
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s valuation expert to Dominic Winter Auction House in the heart of the English countryside, Chris Albury was used to receiving strange things through the post. Held together with brown tape and covered in brightly coloured Mexican stamps, the address on the package was scrawled in black marker pen substituting the Spanish word Reino Unido for the United Kingdom. “Looking it over the biggest surprise of all was that it arrived safely in the first place,” he admitted. The letter inside was not much better. Written in Spanish something told him that it might be worth getting it translated. Any lingering doubts he may have had were quickly dispelled after a group of black and white photographs spilled onto his desk when he finally managed to get it open. Instantly recognisable they were the work of legendary Cuban photographer Alberto Korda – the man behind the iconic portrait of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara entitled El Guerrillero Heroico. Grabbing a magnifying glass from a drawer, he scanned his
way through the small but fascinating collection. Then almost without warning, four images drew a sharp intake of breath from the experienced auctioneer. “I spotted four photographs of what appeared a rather unusual golf match,” said Albury. “Somewhat unusually two men were dressed in Army fatigues and combat boots. Then I did a double take. One was Fidel Castro and the other was Che Guevara!” A few late evening phone calls to the mysterious consigner in Mexico and Chris Albury established the collection of 55 photographs belonged to Alberto Korda’s daughter, Norka. “We had sold some of her fathers’ photos in a previous sale and they had fetched a good price,” said Albury. “Somehow she found out about it on the internet and sent us the photographs to sell in our May (2013) Collectors Auction.” Now it was time to do some research ... At first glance the connection between two battle-hardened revolutionaries and the bourgeoisie game of golf is not instantly obvious. And while photos of the Castro-Guevara golf match are not unknown (they are regularly sold as postcards in souvenir shops throughout Cuba), the story behind it is mired in controversy and confusion. Born Alberto Diaz Gutierrez in Havana in 1928, Korda was employed as a photographer for the official State newspaper Revolucion. Ever present at Castro’s side, he was called upon to photograph a hastily arranged golf match at Colinas de Villareal Golf Club in Havana. Producing a collection of relaxed images of Fidel and Guevara going head-to-head on the links, Korda himself dated them “March 1961” though this has since been disputed. In an interview for Korda: A Revolutionary Lens by Mark Sanders, he did at least offer a brief background to the photos. “Fidel was in a meeting with El Che looking through the American newspapers when he stumbled across a headline about President Eisenhower playing a good round of golf. Fidel couldn’t believe that, in a world where children were dying of starvation and men were killing each other in war, the American newspapers would cover anything so trivial. Then he turned to Che Guevara and asked him, ‘Do you know how to play golf?’, and Che replied, ‘Yes’ – El Che had worked as a caddie in Argentina. Fidel said, ‘Okay, tomorrow you and I are going to play a round of golf.’ The following morning they both went to a golf course outside of Havana and Che played in such a way as to let Fidel win. Next day Revolucion published my photographs with the headline that said Fidel had made a better player than Eisenhower. In fact Fidel had never played golf before ...” In the 2007 biographical work Cuba by Korda, the photographer recalled being berated for the HKGOLFER.COM
way he looked during the match: “‘Chico, with your cameras around your neck you look like a Yankee!’ Che joked when I started to photograph him playing golf. ‘Do you realise how much we cost the country for all the films spilling out of your pockets?’ I didn’t reply, but thought to myself: ‘What’s the problem? I paid for all the film myself!’” Korda’s assertion that Che had somehow let Castro win was also disputed most notably by Castro’s personal biographer, José Lorenzo Fuentes. In a decision that reputedly cost him his job at the Cuban Granma newspaper, he reported how Guevara had beaten his Commander-in-Chief with a score of 127 against 150. Whatever the accuracy of the story, it so incensed Castro that he demanded that Fuentes be fired immediately. Fuentes also questioned the March, 1961 date given by Korda. Now living in Florida he gave an interview with the Independent newspaper in 2009 in which he suggested the match was played shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis of November, 1962. “Castro told me that the headline of the story the next day would be 'President’ Castro challenges President Kennedy to a friendly game of golf,’” he recalled. With Cuban records unable to confirm an exact date, the idea that Castro responded to such a groundbreaking moment in history with a game of golf is an unlikely scenario. Equally if the match had taken place in the weeks before, the danger involved in such political posturing is obvious. Moreover, with the world on the edge of a nuclear holocaust could a game of golf really tipped it over the edge? Quite why Fuentes would offer such an inaccurate date is also unsure. He certainly harboured a grudge against the Castro regime having been (falsely in his opinion) accused of working for the CIA and imprisoned in Cuba in 1969. "The day I was sent to prison was the day I lost faith in the revolution," he is reported as saying. Serving a three-year sentence before fleeing to Miami, it is now generally accepted the famous golf match took place around in May, 1959. Barely three months after he ousted Cuban Dictator Fulgencio Batista in a military coup, Castro was invited to Washington DC by the American Society of Newspaper Editors to discuss his so-called ‘Peoples Revolution.’ Aware of United States President Eisenhower’s passion for golf it has been suggested that Castro wanted to show off his “golfing credentials” in preparation for a possible round with the American leader. Sadly no such game could be arranged. Viewed by the US Government as a Russian stooge, Castro was told the President was unavailable as he was playing golf alone at the Congressional Golf Club during his entire visit. Incensed at the snub, it was a furious Castro HKGOLFER.COM
"Fidel was in a meeting with El Che looking through the American newspapers when he stumbled across a headline about Eisenhower playing a good round of golf. He couldn’t believe that, in a world where children were dying of starvation, the newspapers would cover anything so trivial." who cut short his visit and returned home to Cuba. Within days he ordered that all Cuba’s golf courses be flattened and never used again for such a decadent Western game. Not surprisingly, Colinas de Villareal was among the first to be ploughed under and converted into a military barracks. Castro himself appeared to confirm this earlier date an interview with the Colombia-based website Camaguey.com.co in 2007. Asked about the famous match he said: “One day, Che and I went to play golf. The United States government had already decreed the suspension and the redistribution of Cuba's sugar quota, after the Revolution had passed the Agrarian Reform Law. The golf game was a photo opportunity. The real purpose was to make fun of Eisenhower ...” Someone else with an interest in the Guevara / Castro golf match is Alberto Korda’s son, Dante. “I have heard so many different stories about the day my father took those pictures,” he said from his home in Spain. “In truth, the “match” probably took place over a hole or two for the camera – not an entire round keeping score.” HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
Incensed at the snub, it was a furious Castro who cut short his visit and returned home to Cuba. Within days he ordered that all Cuba’s golf courses be flattened and never used again for such a decadent Western game.
Boasting his own valuable collection of ‘Korda’ images, his only regret is that he has no control over how or where they are exhibited. “Along with many other photographers work, the original negatives were commandeered by the Cuban State Archive (Archivo del Consejo de Estado) in March, 1968,” he explained. “This meant that if my father wanted to reproduce from them, he would have to apply like any other citizen.” Not that owning the copyright to their fathers’ work is of great importance to either of his children. “My father never exercised that (copy) right on any of his photos,” said Dante. “Now all his work is in the public domain and there is sufficient evidence this was always my father's position in life ... As his family we can only be proud that his work is now so widely appreciated.” It was a packed Gloucestershire saleroom that greeted the auction of the Korda photographs in May of this year. Interest in lot 815, Juego de Golf (Game of Golf), Club de Golf de la Habana, had been particularly strong during the viewing days and a high auction price was expected. “What makes these photos interesting is that both Castro and Guevara are smiling at their inability to play the game with any degree of skill,” said Graham Rowley, a golf memorabilia expert. “I also like the fact they are surrounded by Cuban peasants who appear totally bemused at what they are watching. This also adds value to the images.” With various news media covering the sale of the Korda images, Dominic Winter Auction House had done a good job in publicity terms: “We have had enquires from many different countries,” said Chris Albury at the time. “I only hope that translates into a high price for all concerned.” Neither he nor Norka Korda would be disappointed. The golf-related images were purchased by a private collector at the high end of the pre-sale estimate of £2,500-3,500 (approximately HK$28,850-40,350), while the total archive realised £33,000 (HK$380,000) including buyers' premium. The only question now is whether 86 year-old Fidel Castro, still alive and living in Cuba, would want his cut?
While Guevara (above) was better known for his love of rugby union, he did have knowledge of golf having served as a caddie in his Argentinean homeland; Alberto Korda (right) pictured here with his daughter, Norka 56
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
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Insight Sports, a Hong Kong-based technology company, is leading the way in the golf training aid sector with its state-of-the-art iTrainer swing analysers, writes Charlie Schroeder.
Hong Kong heritage: The locally created iTrainer Mini and related tablet App (above); the iTrainer Pro (opposite), the culmination of five different versions 58
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
ack in 2005, Steve Sparrow had just finished designing the broker systems for the Shanghai Stock Exchange when he found himself with a year off. With newfound time on his hands, the solutions architect decided to do something most of us can only dream of: devote a year to working on his golf game. Although he’d been playing for a decade, he felt his game had plateaued, so, like thousands before him, Sparrow, British-born and Australia raised, sought help in the form of training aids.
“I bought all the gadgets you could find,” the affable 18-handicapper told me. But none could help him knock strokes off his index. With his background in computer science and electronic engineering (he originally moved to Hong Kong from Australia in 1994 to design the systems on our stock exchange’s trading floor), it was only fitting that he looked to technology to help his game. And the more Sparrow, 55, thought about how to improve his golf via technology, the more he thought about creating a training aid that could help other players as well. HKGOLFER.COM
He took a “simple prototype” of his invention, a small device fitted with lasers that could “track the swing and provide feedback to the golfer,” to the Hong Kong Government and their Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Programme. Suitably impressed they awarded him money and he started to develop it. The year was 2006 and an original Hong Kong golf product had been born. Sparrow formed a company, Insight Sports, and called his prototype the iTrainer. In May, I visited Sparrow and his business partners, Mike Belbin, 67, and Darren McEntee, 39, at Insight Sports’ new Kennedy Town offices. Perched on a high floor in an industrial building overlooking Victoria Harbour, their headquarters are sparsely decorated with just enough space for a couple offices, a long, high table and an indoor practice net where they can hit balls and test their two iTrainer swing analysers, the Pro (HK$3,095) and Mini (HK$2,320). “This is the culmination of about five different versions,” Sparrow said, picking the Pro model off the table. The black, rectangular unit has a small screen and is about twice as thick and half the size of an iPhone. To use it all you have to do is clamp it just under your grip, ensure it’s aligned with your club face and hit a ball. The recorded data (clubhead speed, tempo and shot distance among many others) then shows up on the small screen. It even gives audible feedback if your club veers off plane. As Sparrow put it, “It’s good for people who aren’t [technologically] savvy.” Next they produced the Mini, which is as discreet as a clip-on microphone and geared for people with the latest gadgetry. It’s screenless, lighter and smaller than the iTrainerPro and was originally designed to help golfers improve their putting. Like the Pro, the bluetooth-enabled Mini provides swing data but instead of displaying it on a screen, it sends it to smartphones and tablets. “We hope to appeal to two different kinds of consumers,” Belbin said. Of course, admiring the iTrainers wasn’t enough to truly understand how they work, so we adjourned to the indoor net to test them out. I attached the Mini to a 6-iron and promptly blocked a shot into the right corner of the net. Afterwards Sparrow approached me, iPad in hand. There, in full-colour (on a very userfriendly interface), the iTrainer app had received all the data from my rusty, mid-morning swing. My swing speed was glacial, my clubface open and my shot distance, well, that’s none of your business. Still, as Sparrow swiped through the different screens, he did highlight some positives. My tempo was close to the desired ratio of 3 (backswing) to 1 (downswing) and my swing path somehow wasn’t over the top, which the iTrainer displayed via a nifty 3D simulation viewable from all angles. HKGOLFER.COM
My swing speed was glacial, my clubface open and my shot distance, well, that’s none of your business. Still, as Sparrow swiped through the different screens, he did highlight some positives. HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
I knew what almost all the data meant, but I wondered how the average weekend warrior would benefit from so much information. Would knowing how many revolutions per minute your ball spun be confusing? Too Much Information? Fortunately Belbin had a good answer. The first time he tried it, he told me he focused on just one area. “I realised my tempo was really off and as soon as I adjusted my swing I was so much better. Even if it [the iTrainer] is just for that I could use it.” In other words, there’s a lot of data to choose from, but that’s okay. Golfers can pick and choose what’s best for their game. Not to mention that despite hitting a golf ball a mere 10 feet into a net, I knew precisely how far, and in what direction, it flew. It was obvious that the device’s target market might just be people who don’t have year-round access to a driving range or who live in cold climates or space-challenged environments, like Hong Kong. “People have no idea how far they’re hitting the ball when they hit into nets,” Belbin said. “Or whether it went left or right. But if somebody is hitting into a net, they’re going to get data using an iTrainer.” After the practice session we adjourned to a local Italian restaurant. Over coffee, the men told me about their future plans for the iTrainer: an interactive academy built with input from local pro, Vaughan Mason, who owns The Golf School of Hong Kong in Ma On Shan. “The next release will be fully interactive so a pro can get players into the right positions throughout the swing,” Sparrow told me. Preliminary plans also include a subscription programme whereby users can send their swing data to coaches for analysis. They’ve also added static tips based on one’s swing flaws and have shot a number of videos which they plan to incorporate into the app. From there, users can choose one of three tips based on the flaws in their swing. “We want to go from information to instruction to improvement,” says Belbin. “It’s bridging that gap where we feel we can help the golfer.” And that’s something we can all benefit from. insight-sports.com
THE OPPOSITION Rival Swing Analysers on the Market Hong Kong-based 3 Bays GSA Pro (HK$1,550) markets itself as the “world’s lightest golf swing analyser” and, as it tips the scales at a mere nine grams, it’s hard to argue with their claim. The one-by-one inch sensor is small enough to fit into the butt end of your club’s grip and uses a 3-axis accelerometer and gyroscope sensors to transmit (via Bluetooth) swing data to a mobile phone app. Once there, users see an animated version of their swing and can access key data points like clubhead speed, ball speed, tempo, swing path, carry distance and clubface angle. For golfers who like to track their consistency, the device makes it easy to store swing history. Another nifty feature is that you can share your swing info on Facebook. (Like!) Designed for both iOS and Android phones. Look for a separate putting model too. 3bayslife.org What looks like a travel size computer mouse is really the lightweight golf swing analyser GolfSense (HK$1,000). The small sensor, which weighs 17 grams and clips onto your golf glove, boasts a gyroscope, compass and two accelerometers that capture your swing data. After sent via Bluetooth to a mobile device, users can see their swing in animated 3-D. Other data includes tempo, clubhead speed, shot distance and hip rotation. Extra features include the ability to track swing history and add notes. Into social networking? Compare and share your swings on Twitter, Facebook and email. golfsense.me
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
PLANET OCEAN PREMIERE Sharon Kwok, Omega’s Jimmy Mak, Simon Yam and Dr Rebecca Lee
Planet Ocean, an award-winning 90-minute documentary focusing on the threat faced by the marine ecosystem and ocean conservation, premiered last June in Rio de Janeiro to huge praise. Twelve months on and the Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot directed documentary made its debut in Hong Kong, thanks to Omega, a chief sponsor of the film and the GoodPlanet Foundation which is a nonprofit organisation that champions sustainable development. At the glitzy premiere held at the PALACE ifc, Omega launched its latest Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GoodPlanet wristwatch, an extension to the range of diver’s watch under the Planet Ocean family. Omega has pledged part of the sales proceeds of this watch to the GoodPlanet Foundation and their long-term project of preserving the mangroves and seagrasses in Southeast Asia as well as educating the lcoal population about the ecosystem. The event also saw the guest appearances by actor Simon Yam, who was involved in the shooting of documentary, and explorer Dr Rebecca Lee, who is the first woman to have visited all three extremes of the Earth – the North and South Poles, and Mount Everest.
Jimmy Mak and Dr Rebecca Lee
The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GoodPlanet watch
Marine habitat photography exhibition at the PALACE ifc HKGOLFER.COM
HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
GOLF ATRAVEL Player’s Guide
Fitting finale: the closing hole on the wonderful Gary Player-designed Ocean Course at Ria Bintan 62
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The Indonesian islands of Bintan and Batam have long attracted Singaporean golfers looking to escape the rigours of city life. Now, writes Duncan Forgan, it’s time for Hong Kongers to follow in their footsteps.
golfing odyssey to the Riau Archipelago in Indonesia would be a pretty tempting prospect under any circumstances. Located to the east of Sumatra, the cluster of islands boast the full range of alluring Southeast Asian accoutrements. There are spotless beaches backed by swaying coconut palms, dense forests teeming with exotic wildlife, excellent resorts and, vitally, some genuinely fine courses that wind through jungle and skirt the shores of the shimmering ocean. What makes the Riau islands really irresistible, however, are their close proximity to Singapore. While nobody can deny that the city state has many fine golf options, most are priced at the more punitive end of the scale. Many of the best courses, meanwhile, are ostensibly ‘members only’ which means even more effort needs to be expended if you aim to sweet talk yourself a tee-time. It is almost as convenient then to eschew Singapore all together and make for Bintan or Batam, the two main islands HKGOLFER.COM
in the archipelago, which are both a mere 40-minute ferry ride away from Singapore’s spiffy Tanah Merah terminal. Indeed, for many Singapore-based golfers, it is rite of passage that takes place as many weekends as child-care and spousal commitments allow. Think of it as a rather more alluring version of what Guangdong province has come to mean to those of us without golf club membership in Hong Kong. With Tanah Merah being just a short taxi ride from Changi Airport, Bintan and Batam are also perfectly feasible options for a short golfing break for visitors from other parts of Asia. Most visitors from Singapore to Riau go for the day and practically all the golf courses can organize a package which includes return ferry transfers, passport formalities (an Indonesian visa on arrival costs US$10), transfers to the golf club and green fees. With plentiful ferry links between Bintan and Batam and a range of accommodation options available on both islands, however, it is no hardship to linger in this underrated golf paradise. HK GOLFER・AUG 2013
Clockwise from above: an aerial shot of Ria Bintan’s wonderful front nine closing stretch; the palm-fringed course at Laguna Bintan, a Greg Norman design; Ria Bintan’s famous par-3 ninth hole 64
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The line ‘this is one of the best sites I have ever had to work on’ is one often rolled out by golf course designers, to varying degrees of truthfulness. In the case of his Ocean Course at Ria Bintan, however, Gary Player wasn’t sticking to a script to keep his paymasters happy when he extolled the virtues of this stunning chunk of real estate. The Ocean Course is regularly ranked among the best in the region and, for visual thrills alone, it is hard to think of many rivals in Southeast Asia that come close to its skyscraping beauty. Carved through thick jungle, the course cuts a broad swathe through the Bintan landscape. While many modern layouts deal in loops of nine holes which make their way back to the clubhouse, the Ocean course adheres to a traditional ‘out and in’ design. The first few holes set a high quality marker. The par-5 first requires a pinpoint drive and a death or glory carry over water to the green while the attractive fifth runs through an attractive, but treacherously narrow, funnel of forest. It is the holes around the turn, however, that Ria Bintan’s fame is deservedly built upon. The
ocean reveals itself halfway down the seventh, a gorgeous downhill par-5. The eighth and the 10th, both par-4s, also feature the sea as a central component. The undoubted star though is the short ninth where the tee shot is played over an inlet to an undulating green backed by towering trees.
Even the best golf course would suffer by comparison to nearby Ria Bintan and there is no disguising the fact that this Greg Norman layout is overshadowed by its immaculate neighbour. Taken on its own merits, however, there’s a lot to admire about this attractive and challenging course. After a relatively nondescript start, the layout begins to come into its own on the par-4 third which features an intimidating drive over a gully and a rocky flowerbed to an uphill fairway that narrows and snakes slightly rightwards towards a small green. The following par-3 fourth is another beauty, with the shallow, heavily bunkered green requiring a tee shot of pinpoint accuracy over another jungle-clad ravine. Like at Ria Bintan, the holes on which the ocean makes an appearance are the standout HKGOLFER.COM
challenges. Here, the first sight of the brine comes on the seventh, a long downhill par-4. Meanwhile, the short eighth which is played across a rock-strewn beach to a slightly hidden, elevated green could give Ria Bintan’s famous ninth a run for its money. The second nine is less eventful. However, the long 16th is a great driving hole with bunkers to the right and water to the left waiting to entrap anything even marginally errant.
The two standout courses at Bintan Lagoon, one designed by Jack Nicklaus, the other by Ian Baker-Finch, complement Ria and Laguna perfectly and undoubtedly cement Bintan’s status as one of the region’s premier golfing destinations. Nicklaus’s effort, the Sea View, could be described as a tropical seaside course. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the gently lapping tepid waves of the South China Sea and the presence of coconut palms, you might say that some holes have characteristics of links golf. Of these, the 12th – a tough par-3 with an ocean backdrop – is the pick. Also notable is the split green on the 13th where a stream separates two sections of putting surface. If anything, Baker-Finch’s Woodlands course is the stronger of the two layouts. It is shorter in length, but the encroaching thick jungle that lines practically every hole makes pinpoint driving HKGOLFER.COM
accuracy an imperative. The eighth, a long par-5 which extends down from an elevated tee and features a lake, penal bunkers and a solitary tree in the middle of the fairway, is arguably the finest of many thought-provoking holes here.
Former US Open champion Larry Nelson had his work cut out when he was tasked with coming up with the original nine holes at Palm Springs on Batam. The site, just a few minutes from the Nongsa ferry terminal, was originally a giant mangrove swamp. With the aid of some serious drainage, allied to his own architectural nous, Nelson managed to make a silk purse out of this particular sow’s ear and Palm Springs has become a firm favorite of visitors from Singapore seeking a good value day’s golfing.
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There’s plenty of greenside protection at the 11th hole at Ria Bintan
The two strongest nines out of the existing 27 holes are generally held to be the Palm and the Island courses. The Palm, the oldest of the three and the one that emerged phoenix-like from the sludge, has a number of eye-catching holes. It is easy to be caught cold on the par-5 first, with out of bounds encroaching from the left and a large lake awaiting errant second
shots on the right. Other memorable holes include the dogleg sixth which plays down towards the ocean and angles around a giant rock formation. The Island, meanwhile, sags a little in the middle but holes such as the short second, which is played over another one of those lush, tropical ravines, and the undulating downhill eighth, are not short of quality.
NEED TO KNOW ACCOMMODATION
GOLF Ria Bintan Golf Club Contact: riabintan.com Green Fee: HK$975-1,345 (includes cart and caddie) Laguna Bintan Golf Club Contact: banyantree.com Green Fee: HK$365-735
Bintan Lagoon Resort Contact: mozaichotels.com Green Fee: HK$920-1,475 Palm Springs Golf & Beach Resort Contact: palmsprings.com.sg Green Fee: HK$460-645 (includes cart and caddie)
The Banyan Tree resort on Bintan (banyantree. com) was one of the luxury chain’s first outlets and retains its status as the most palatial address on the island. After several years of use, it was inevitable that the resort would show some signs of age. However, a major recent refurbishment has given it a renewed lease of life and digs are as upscale and appealing as you would expect for the not inconsiderable price. Villas (from HK$4,200) come in a range of categories. If you have cash to splash, opt for the ones with their own private swimming pool.The resort boasts a range of leisure facilities; there are two pools, a spa, a library and a private beach. Meanwhile, dining experiences can be sampled at the resort’s three restaurants – Saffron (Thai), The Cove (European), Treetops (Asian fusion) – or through a private in-villa barbecue or a specially prepared beachside meal.
GETTING THERE Ferries from Singapore to Bintan (brf.com.sg) and Batam (batamfast.com) leave Tanah Merah Terminal at frequent intervals. Return fares to Bintan cost around HK$390 and HK$300 to Batam. A seven-day visa for Indonesia is available on arrival for US$10.
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GLOBAL TOURNAMENT NEWS
TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP TPC River Highlands, Connecticut 20-23 June, US$6.1 million
DUKE OF CROMWELL
Journeyman Ken Duke claimed his first PGA Tour victory by edging out his fellow countryman Chris Stroud on the second play-off hole. Stroud, who also was seeking his first win, had chipped in from 51 feet on the 18th hole to force the playoff. Duke, who came in ranked 144th in the world, is the sixth golfer in eight years to claim his first PGA Tour win here. 1 Ken Duke
69 68 65 66
2 Chris Stroud
66 69 66 67
3 Graham DeLaet
65 70 65 69
The Old White TPC, West Virginia 4-7 July, US$6.3 million
4 Bubba Watson
63 67 70 70
SKY'S THE LIMIT
5= J.J. Henry
68 67 68 68
65 69 72 65
7= Charley Hoffman
61 73 66 72
68 70 66 68
9= Stuart Appleby
69 67 69 68
67 72 71 63
Congressional Country Club, Maryland 27-30 June, US$6.5 million
A brilliant final round of 66 saw American Bill Haas win for the first time since February 2012 with a three-stroke victory. It was a fifth career win for Haas and his fourth consecutive year with a victory on the PGA Tour. Roberto Castro, who led or shared the lead after each of the first three rounds finished runner up, whilst world number eight Brandt Snedeker finished in joint eighth. Defending champion Tiger Woods didn't feature due to a elbow injury. 1 Bill Haas
70 68 68 66
2 Roberto Castro
66 69 71 69
3= Jason Kokrak
71 66 70 69
71 66 75 64
5 Stewart Cink
70 69 71 67
6 Jordan Spieth
69 66 74 69
7 Charlie Wi
72 71 65 71
8= Brian Davis
70 72 71 67
68 72 71 69
69 69 68 74
THE GREENBRIER CLASSIC
Jonas Blixt rallied on the final day from off the pace to win the raindelayed Greenbrier Classic by two strokes. The Swede, who is now a winner in each of his first two seasons on the PGA Tour, carded a 3-under 67 on Sunday to overcome a four-shot deficit at the start of the final round. Overnight leader Johnson Wagner finished in a tie for second at 11 under. 1 Jonas Blixt
66 67 67 67
2= Steven Bowditch
65 67 69 68
69 66 66 68
62 70 64 73
69 65 64 71
6= Pat Perez
71 65 66 69
Ted Potter, Jr.
69 66 69 67
71 66 67 67
9= Bill Haas
68 67 67 70
66 68 68 70
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GLOBAL TOURNAMENT NEWS
NAJETI HOTELS ET GOLFS OPEN Aa St Omer GC, France 13-16 June, €500,000
THORNTON SECURES MAIDEN WIN
Irishman Simon Thornton beat Tjaart Van der Walt on the first playoff hole to capture his first European Tour title. Both players parred the last six holes to finish at 5-under 279, however Van der Walt could only manage a bogey in the play-off while Thornton made a short par putt to clinch the title. Seve Benson of England finished one stroke back to claim third. 1 Simon Thornton
74 70 65 70
2 Tjaart Van der Walt
67 71 71 70
3 Seve Benson
75 65 70 70
4 Robert Dinwiddie
72 66 74 70
5= Pelle Edberg
74 69 69 71
73 68 70 72
7= Agustin Domingo
74 71 68 71
73 67 73 71
68 71 72 73
75 69 68 73
10= Jamie Elson
BMW INTERNATIONAL OPEN GC Munchen Eichenried, Germany 20-23 June, €2 million
ELS RETURNS TO WINNING WAYS
Ernie Els secured his 28th European Tour title by holding off challenges from Thomas Bjorn and Alexander Levy to claim a wire-towire victory at the BMW International Open. The South African started the tournament with a fantastic opening round of 63, but began the final round level with Alex Noren and Levy. The Open Champion kept his cool to sign for a third consecutive 69 and 18 under total. RSA
63 69 69 69
2 Thomas Bjorn
68 69 65 69
3 Alexander Levy
65 68 68 71
4= Martin Kaymer
64 71 69 69
64 71 66 72
66 68 71 68
7= Darren Fichardt
70 66 69 69
71 69 65 69
71 69 69 65
10= Robert-Jan Derksen NED
64 72 70 69
Carton House GC, Republic of Ireland 27-30 June, €2 million
CASEY ENDS DROUGHT
Paul Casey captured his first victory in over two years with a scintillating final round in rough conditions to win the The Irish Open. The Englishman, who plummeted from third in the world rankings to 169th, shot a breathtaking five-under-par 67 in stormy conditions to finish 14 under. That was three better than overnight leader Joost Luiten, who finished with a closing round of 74. This was Casey's 12th European Tour title of his career. 1 Paul Casey
68 72 67 67
2= Joost Luiten
67 70 66 74
69 66 71 71
4 Pablo Larrazabal
69 69 66 75
5= Rafa Cabera-Bello
69 70 70 71
67 70 74 69
Jose Maria Olazabal ESP
68 69 71 72
72 68 68 72
73 68 70 69
10= Alejandro Canizares ESP
71 69 69 72
€34,800 Paul Casey
1 Ernie Els
THE IRISH OPEN
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GLOBAL TOURNAMENT NEWS
ALSTOM OPEN DE FRANCE Le Golf National, France 4-7 July, €3 million
McDOWELL MAINTAINS WINNING HABBIT
Graeme McDowell captured his third win of 2013 as he fired a final round of 67 to finish nine under par, four clear of South Africa's Richard Sterne. McDowell, who has either missed a cut or claim victory in each of his last eight events, was tied for the lead with Sterne following the third round, with several other contenders within striking distance at the 2018 Ryder Cup venue. However, the South African's challenge faltered, bogeying the 12th, 16th and 17th. 1 Graeme McDowell
69 69 70 67
2 Richard Sterne
68 69 71 71
3= Eduardo De La Riva
72 67 72 69
70 68 73 69
5 Simon Dyson
70 68 72 71
6= Jamie Donaldson
70 70 71 71
69 70 70 73
8= Thomas Bjorn
68 69 74 72
68 70 75 70
69 71 69 74
LPGA TOUR WALMART NW ARKANSAS CHAMPIONSHIP Pinnacle CC, Arkansas 21-23 June, US$2 million
PARK NOTCHES PLAY-OFF WIN
Inbee Park sealed her fifth victory of the 2013 campaign by defeating best friend So Yeon Ryu in a one-hole, sudden-death play-off at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Park came from four strokes back in the final round and held the outright lead for one hole before Ryu converted a 10-foot birdie on the final hole to force a playoff. The victory was the second straight win in a playoff for Park, who won the LPGA Championship two weeks ago. KOR
69 65 67
2 So Yeon Ryu
66 66 69
3 Mika Miyazato
65 70 67
4= Stacy Lewis
67 65 71
Lydia Ko (A)
69 66 68
70 64 69
7= Beatriz Recari
67 65 72
67 70 67
68 68 68
67 65 72
US WOMEN'S OPEN Sebonack GC, New York 27-30 June, US$3.25 million
PARK CONTINUES DOMINANCE
Inbee Park continued her dominance on the LPGA Tour by winning her third major of the season, the US Women's Open. The South Korean remains on course for an unprecedented Grand Slam and is only the second player in LPGA history to win the first three majors in a season. The 24-year-old carded a closing round 74 to finish on eightunder, four clear of countrywomen IK Kim. 1 Inbee Park
67 68 71 74
2 I.K. Kim
68 69 73 74
3 So Yeon Ryu
73 69 73 72
4= Angela Stanford
73 68 74 74
72 73 72 72
Jodi Ewart Shadoff
70 69 74 76
7= Brittany Lang
76 69 73 72
70 71 76 73
9= Shanshan Feng
71 75 75 70
72 72 74 73
Inbee Park AFP
1 Inbee Park
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CARTIER: THE HOME OF EXQUISITE GIFTS The Cartier boutique gleams its welcome, with treasures to covet at every turn. It is the ideal universe for purchasing gifts for all tastes and occasions – even the smallest item is accepted with boundless joy when delightfully concealed within a sumptuous Cartier red box. From impeccable collectibles for the friend or relative who has everything to precious surprises for your lover; from up-to-the-minute yet superbly crafted fashion choices that brighten the contemporary woman’s day to classy sartorial trimmings for the modern man, a Cartier creation is a timeless testament to one’s standing in society and appreciation of the finest things in life.
REFINED LIVING For more than 160 years, men and women of legend – royalty, politicians, heiresses, artists – have decorated their abodes with limited edition objects of immense beauty and imagination crafted at Cartier’s workshops in Paris. A lucky few today can follow in these esteemed footsteps if they receive a gift of a Cartier poker set in sycamore wood and black lacquer overlaid with mother-of-pearl and red and grey marqetry. Red garnet cabochons further adorn this collectible that will grace the study or games room of only a handful of prestigious homes around the world – there are only five in existence and each is numbered as a hallmark of its rarity. Elsewhere in the home, a limited edition Cartier box attracts all eyes with its polished decor. A glorious accoutrement for the drawing room, this flawless receptacle is crafted of nephrite jade with a lid of sun godrons décor set in sterling silver; inside is plush green sueded leather. Another exceptional gift, Cartier octagonal clock in sterling silver, sculpted rock crystal and red garnet cabochons. Mounted on a black jade and silver stand, the stately timekeeper boasts a mechanical movement with a power reserve of eight days, and underscoring its air of luxurious exclusivity comes in a limited edition of 100 pieces. Moving into the dressing room, Cartier jewellery box resplendent in 14 tones of coloured wood marquetry and further bestowed with gold finish, mother-of-pearl and four palmeira citrine cabochons depicts a pair of exotic birds in flight. Only 20 collectors in the world can keep their Cartier jewels in this precious coffer.
FEMININE STYLE The lady of the house cuts a striking figure when she steps out with her latest gift, the Marcello de Cartier envelope bag. So-called for its minimalist rectangular lines and triangular front flap, the tote makes a sophisticated statement in red goatskin with gilded metal fittings – mahogany goatskin and black goatskin are the other refined colour choices. At a Maison renowned for its sumptuous leather goods, the Marcello de Cartier envelope is heaven sent for smart daywear, and it can move seamlessly to an evening cocktail too. Fun, fashion and sport combine neatly in a mini-bowling bag from the 70
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same collection; in pony calfskin and brown cowhide its panther spot motif nods playfully to Cartier’s long association with the powerful jungle beast. Accessorise the Marcello de Cartier bowling bag with a Cartier scarf in a blend of soft cashmere and silk, fashionable monochrome dots imprinting the panther’s noble visage. While chosen from a host of beautiful pure silk squares, the gift of an Odyssée de Cartier printed scarf in blue would bring Paris chic close to the heart of your favourite girl about town.
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY Glasses have never been so glamorous thanks to Panthère Wild de Cartier Collection, a new eyewearline secured by the jaws of the majestic wildcat. A sculpted metal panther head, in platinum or champagne gold finish with piercing green lacquered eyes, bites black, burgundy or tortoiseshell colour frames, symbolising assertive power and extraordinary grace – the woman who wears these is one to watch. Cartier’s famed Trinity ring – first launched in 1924 – updates a stellar collection of eyewear, which makes an understated gift for a myriad of occasions. Trinity de Cartier Collection sunglasses in bold lacquered red acetate or snazzy tortoiseshell effect are resort holiday standouts. Set neatly into the temples is the allure of the three interlinking Trinity bands, in sensual pink, white and yellow gold finish. The collection also encompasses optical frames in a variety of fetching shapes and colours. Classic style aficionados, meanwhile, would most appreciate receiving 72
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glasses from the exceptional solid gold 2013 Eyewear Collection. Crafted in a limited edition to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Carter eyewear are frames featuring red leather and a smooth champagne golden finish.
MANLY TRAPPINGS At Cartier, where timeless style melds with precise, intricate craftsmanship, you will find a gift that intrigues the male mind. Dress the masculine wrist with cufflinks that attest to the Maison’s creativity and expertise in fine jewellery, as seen in the selection of beautiful materials and use of artistic techniques including guilloché, paving, engraving and sculpture. Beloved motifs peep from beneath the jacket sleeve – the double C logo in 18-carat white gold, each cufflink set with diamonds; 18-carat white gold balls paved with diamonds, black ceramic points and onyx, and a panther pair sculpted from 18-carat yellow gold with black lacquer. Panther spots illuminate a Cartier lighter adorned with black lacquer and an attractive golden finish: one for the man still on the prowl. Making a more unusual statement is a square lighter, also in a luscious golden tone, but this time etched with an elegant godrons decor. These manly trappings, like all the Maison’s creations, stand the test of time, sending strong messages of individuality and personality, class and value. Gifts from the Cartier treasure trove can be worn or used beyond the whims of fashion or season; they are enduring accoutrements of fine living. HKGOLFER.COM
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GOLF & INVESTING | 5 MINUTES WITH ...
Tim Orgill For golfers and investors out there, you might find golf and investing share a lot of similar attributes. In this, the fourth of a series of interviews presented by Charles Schwab, Hong Kong, Ltd., Tim Orgill – the managing director of Hong Kong-based Impact Golf Management Group and the reigning Hong Kong Golf Club champion – talks about two of his best rounds, his investment philosophy and his favourite courses from around the world. What connections do you see between golf and investing? The need to keep patient. It helps in both disciplines. If you try and force the issue in golf – if you get too aggressive, for instance – it can end up costing you on the scorecard. The same applies with investing. You can’t be too gung-ho with your investments and expect them to always work out. Knowing when to be aggressive and when to take a more conservative approach is vital. When did you start playing? My parents introduced me to golf when I was seven years-old. I learnt to play at the then Royal Hong Kong Golf Club through the junior golf programme run by Lee Parker. I am forever grateful to Lee for giving me good fundamentals – grip, posture and alignment–that have served me pretty well over the years. I had a five handicap at the age of 18 but managed to get down to plus-one at 21 after spending three years in the US. How often do you play? Daniel Wong (Orgill); Courtesy of Danang Golf Club (Danang GC)
My wife says too often! It tends to average to around four times a month as I like to try and get at least one game on the weekend. Even though I am in the golf business I play relatively little through work, most of my golf is social or in competition. I travel once or twice a year for the sole purpose of enjoying a few rounds. What’s been your best ever round? I’ve had two rounds that were particularly memorable. The first was a 64 in a medal competition at Rye Golf Club in England, and the second was just a few weeks ago: a 65 on the New Course at Fanling. I birdied the last three holes on both occasions. Do you have a favourite course? My joint favourites are Rye Golf Club and the New Course at the Hong Kong Golf Club. I’m a member at both. They’re very different courses but 74
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special in their own way. I would rate Danang Golf Club in Vietnam (pictured) as the best new course in Asia. Who would be in your dream fourball? Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus and Glenn Hoddle. The first two are self-explanatory; they’re legends of the game. For my sins I am a Tottenham Hotspur fan and Hoddle was my footballing hero growing up. How do you maintain focus during a round? Maintaining focus was definitely not my strength when I was younger, though I am a lot better now. As the saying goes, I try and take it one shot at a time and not let a bad shot distract me – too much. How would you describe your overall investment philosophy? Generally conservative. It’s not that often that I invest for the short term; I normally look to the long term. The shares that I do buy are nearly always those of well-known multinationals, which I believe lessens the risk involved. What key lessons have you learned through your personal investing experiences? Don’t get too excited by so-called ‘hot’ tips. By all means get recommendations from professional consultants, but taking the advice of your amateur investor friends is probably not the best route to making a fortune. HKGOLFER.COM
GREAT GOLF STARTS WITH GREAT ADVICE
Hank Haney PGA Teaching Pro
When it comes to golf and investing, everyone can use a little help from the pros.
For more on the connection between golf and Investing, visit www.schwab.com.hk/golf
Schwab Investors Centre: Suites 1607-1611, ICBC Tower, No.3 Garden Road, Hong Kong | +852-2101-0511
EXPERT IN U.S. INVESTING This material is issued by Charles Schwab, Hong Kong, Ltd. and has not been reviewed by the Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong. Charles Schwab, Hong Kong, Ltd. is registered with the Securities and Futures Commission ("SFC") to carry out the regulated activities in dealing in securities, advising on securities and advising on futures contracts under registration CE number ADV256. ÂŠ2012 Charles Schwab, Hong Kong, Ltd. All rights reserved. (0312-1952/CSHK - 1171)