Local Events: The HK Junior Open Championship in review
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION VOTED THE REGION’S NO 1 GOLF MAGAZINE
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HK Golfer Issue 92
60 On the Cover:
Michelle Wie is finally starting to justify the hype after a breakthrough season on the LPGA Tour, one that saw her claim her first major championship – the US Women’s Open Photo by AFP
38 | Tales from the Box
27 | Tee Time
Our correspondent looks back at Rory McIlroy’s sensational summer before turning his attentions to this month’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. By Julian Tutt
42 | The Legend Continues
Rory McIlroy ended the summer in style by capturing his fourth major championship with a gutsy come-from-behind performance at Valhalla. By The Editors
54 | Cover Story / Michelle Wie
Acclaimed instructor David Leadbetter talks about the topsyturvy career of one of his most prized students. By Lewine Mair
60 | The Waiting is Over
The epic biennial team match that is the Ryder Cup is once again upon us, but the Europeans are going to have to fight hard to ensure the Cup remains on their shores. By Alex Jenkins
66 | Humble Beginnings: The Ryder Cup AFP (Ryder Cup); Daniel Wong (Ting)
The glorious Perthshire resort of Gleneagles hosted the first ‘Ryder Cup’-style match against the United States over nine decades ago. Some say that it can even lay claim to be its spiritual home … if only that first encounter had not gone quite so badly! By Dale Concannon
70 | New in Bangkok
HK GOLFER・SEP 2014
A review of the Nikanti Golf Club, a course with a difference and one of the finest in the Thai capital. By Alex Jenkins
Cartier excels once again with these three genres of world-class watchmaking. By Robert Reid
32 | Driving Range
Our motoring correspondent takes a look at the exciting electric I3 from BMW. By Ben Oliver
34 | Liquid Assets
The top 10 wine wonders – from the Old and New worlds. By Julien Yung Mameaux
40 | By Design
Our contributing architect discusses the importance of selecting the right grass type for new courses in Asia. By Paul Jansen
52 | Standing Firm
Max Ting kept his composure in check to fire two solid rounds and win last month’s Junior Open. By The Editors
78 | Property Special
The founder of Complete RPI explains how taking a commercial approach to managing your UK property is the only way to go. By Rupert Smith
82 | Final Shot
Zac Purton, the reigning Hong Kong champion jockey, talks about his love of playing at Fanling and who would be in his dream fourball. Interview by Alex Jenkins HKGOLFER.COM
THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE HONG KONG GOLF ASSOCIATION SEP 2014 • Issue 92
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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70 D E PA R T M E N T S 14 Mailbag 16 Divots 20 Local Focus 22 Women’s Focus 24 Major Focus
Publisher: Charles McLaughlin Art Director: Derek Hannah Assistant Designer: Mimi Cheng Office Manager: Moira Moran Advertising: For advertising information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org For purchasing information contact: email@example.com For subscription information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Hong Kong Golf Association Suite 2003, Olympic House 1 Stadium Path, So Kon Po Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Phone (General): +852 2504-8659 Fax: +852 2845-1553 Phone (Handicaps): +852 2504-8197 Fax: +852 2504-8198 Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org In association with: www.thymedesign.hk
27 Clubhouse 50 Around the HKGA 80 Crossword
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HK GOLFER・SEP 2014
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HK Golfer Mailbag An Ideal Role Model While I can understand Justin Liu’s point in the last issue about how a single player dominating in their given sport can be dull (see Mailbag, August 2014), I am of the belief that in the case of Rory McIlroy and golf it wouldn’t be. Assuming he does continue his magnificent run of form and win more majors and big events in the next few years, this would be just what golf needs. Unlike the dominant examples Mr Liu raised – Michael Schumacher and Pete Sampras – McIlroy is a far more exciting individual. He is refreshingly honest with the press and unlike Tiger Woods, is an all-round likeable character, one whose youth clearly resonates with young golf fans around the world. But it’s more than that. He is an ideal role model. He comes across very well in interviews, has lost most of the petulance he used to at times display on the course and – best of all in my book – plays the game quickly. What’s not to like?
Dalit Bay: Fun golf, plenty of wildlife
John Rogers Island Road
Free Drop From a … Lizard? Playing in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah last month, at the very nice Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club, I encountered an unusual rules situation. Those who have played this course before will know that water monitor lizards, some of which are very large, abound here. On the second hole I hit my ball close to – but not in – a large lake that borders the left side of the fairway. Approaching its position I couldn’t fail but notice a five-foot long lizard loitering within inches of the ball, seemingly unwilling to move. Not being a particularly big fan of exotic wildlife I elected not to get any closer than necessary, dropped another ball down and played from there without penalty. As this was only a casual game I didn’t think much of it, but what if this had been a tournament? Would I have been entitled to do the same?
Editor’s reply: According to Decision 1-4/10 (Dangerous Situation) yes, you would be entitled to do the same. The actual Decision reads: “If the ball lay through the green, the player may, without penalty, drop a ball within one club-length of and not nearer the hole than the nearest spot not nearer the hole that is not dangerous and is not in a hazard and not on a putting green.” If your ball had been in a hazard, the same ruling would have applied, but in this case you’d get one club length from the nearest non-danger zone in the hazard, not nearer the hole. Some may argue that the water monitor lizard is not an inherently dangerous reptile but having played at Dalit Bay and seen them up close, I would have no hesitation in allowing you free relief!
Courtesy of Dalit Bay GC
Horace King Via email
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HK GOLFER・SEP 2014
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Three weeks after Green Jacket Auctions put the ball Rory McIlroy used to win The Open Championship on the auction block, a golf memorabilia collector purchased the ball last month for US$52,038 (a shade over HK$400,000). McIlroy threw the Nike RZN Black ball he used to win his third major championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in the stands, where it was caught by Lee Horner of Leeds, England. After holding onto the ball for a several days, Horner decided to sell it to Green Jacket Auctions – the same auction house that sold Ben Hogan's 1953 MacGregor irons, and the clubs Al Geiberger used to to shoot the first 59 ever recorded on the PGA Tour. According to broadcaster ESPN, the fee paid for the McIlroy ball is the second-highest for a golf ball after the $55,865 that was paid in April 2011 for a Bobby Jones autographed ball. "How many chances will a collector have in their entire life to obtain the actual ball used to win a Major Championship?" Green Jacket Auctions said on its website. "This is a ball that will only gain in significance for the next 20, 50, even 100 years. In the collecting world, this is what's called a "dream piece" – something that no one could ever expect would become available for sale; yet here it is." Apparently, someone agreed with the auction house's assessment. A total of 45 bids were placed by 22 different bidders from across the world.
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Jiménez Back for HK Open Title Tilt
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Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez will be hoping for more record-breaking glory when he returns to the Hong Kong Open in October in an attempt to win the tournament for an unprecedented third time in a row. Jiménez extended his own record as The European Tour’s oldest winner, when aged 49 years and 337 days he successfully defended his title at Hong Kong Golf Club last December, triumphing for the fourth time after victories in 2005, 2008 and 2012. The tradition-rich event, which will take place from October 16-19, 2014, will be the penultimate tournament on The European Tour International Schedule before the lucrative Final Series. It will again be tri-sanctioned with the Asian Tour and Hong Kong Golf Association. He has since broken that record again, winning the Open de España in May for his 21st European Tour title, and despite passing his 50th birthday at the beginning of the year, the EurAsia Cup captain who led Team Europe to a thrilling draw with Asia in March, remains one of the most consistent and exciting players on The European Tour. Jiménez, who will be seeking a historic fifth Hong Kong Open title, said: “This tournament holds a very special place in my heart, for obvious reasons. It is just a unique event – the city, the golf course, the people – they all contribute to what is always one of the best and most popular tournaments of the season for us players. “Last year’s win was possibly the most special as I defended my title and also extended my record as the oldest winner on The European Tour. It will give me great pride to once again return as reigning champion. I hope that I can make it five!” Keith Williams, General Manager of Hong Kong Golf Club, said: “We are delighted that Miguel will be returning to defend his title in the Hong Kong Open. He is an extremely popular player in Hong Kong, not only because of his fantastic record but also because he genuinely loves the golf club and the city, and truly appreciates the history of this great tournament.” Ning Li, President of the Hong Kong Golf Association, added: “Miguel thrilled the golfing public in Hong Kong when he beat Stuart Manley and Prom Meesawat in a play-off to win last year, so we are delighted he is coming back. No player has won the title five times – or three times consecutively – so it would be fantastic if Miguel could do it this year and continue his amazing record in Hong Kong.” HKGOLFER.COM
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Local Focus Taking it to the Max Max Ting hits a drive down the 13th hole, a stout par-4, at Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club during the final round of last month’s Hong Kong Junior Open. Ting led from start to finish, carding rounds of 71 and 73 to win the tournament for the first time. The 14-year-old, who sensationally qualified for last year’s Hong Kong Open, a European Tour event, enjoyed a solid summer playing in the United States. In the girls’ division, China’s Yin Yuan Ru claimed victory by five shots following rounds of 71 and 72. Photo by Daniel Wong
Women's Focus Ryu Flies the Flag Although it was Spain that prevailed to win the LPGA’s inaugural International Crown team event in Maryland at the end of July it was South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu who stood out from the crowd with her patriotic fashion sense. The former US Women’s Open champion partnered with good friends Inbee Park, Na Yeon Choi and IK Kim to finish in a third place. Just three weeks later, Ryu cruised to a wire-to-wire victory at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, finishing with a tournament-record total of 23-under, two shots better than her second-placed Choi. In October Ryu, Choi and Kim will be bridesmaids at Park’s wedding. Photo by AFP
Major Focus Too Little, Too Late While most golf fans around the world were in awe of Rory McIlroy collecting a second successive major victory (his fourth in all) at the US PGA Championship last month, spare a thought for Phil Mickelson. The American left-hander, seen here chipping to the 18th green in the final round, a shot he almost holed, recorded a staggering ninth second-placed finish at a major, finishing just one-stroke behind the red-hot Northern Irishman. “Well, it’s good for me to get back in the thick of it; to get back in contention, to compete in big tournaments,’’ Mickelson, who has five majors to his credit, said.”And it’s fun. It’s just fun.” Photo by Charles McLaughlin
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Away from the Fairways | TEE TIME
THE GREAT TRIUMVIRATE CARTIER EXCELS AGAIN WITH THESE THREE GENRES OF WORLD-CLASS WATCHMAKING, WRITES ROBERT REID.
The Pasha de Cartier 42mm Skeleton with panther décor
HK GOLFER・SEP 2014
carves the obsidian stone with its coloured gradations and cuts the tourmaline into carefully graded squares. The jeweller sculpts a pouncing panther out of a bracelet made of black jade. The gem-setter traces the cobra’s curving form From menagerie in diamonds, or carefully lays out to tutti frutti to bright expanses of gems to form minimalist design, an ultra-realistic panther. By contrast, t wo of the they offer a statew a tc h e s f av o u r a b s t r a c t of-the-art synthesis f o r m s a n d s i m p l i c i t y o f of the Cartier style. o u t l i n e , i n t e g r a t i n g t h e squareness of their dials into a larger geometrical pattern. One displays a series of 28 tourmalines with a setting that is quite invisible; the other is marked by the juxtaposition of its transparent, gem-set dial and the glitter of its 19.20-carat cushion-cut yellow sapphire.
Two of the five new pieces of Cartier High Jewellery: watch with yellow sapphire and obsidians (above left); watch with snake motif (above right) 28
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Cartier High Jewellery deploys all the virtuosity of its savoir-faire around these five unique watches, ranging between abstract design, secret watch models and menagerie motifs revisited. Precious hours are here displayed amid a dazzling array of exceptional stones – tourmalines, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds. Between cuffs, bangles or romantic toi et moi bracelets, these watches find their inspiration close to Cartier’s heart, transfiguring each watch into an exceptional jewel. From menagerie to tutti frutti to minimalist design, they offer a state-of-the-art synthesis of the Cartier style. Through these creations, the master jewellery craftsmen find their artistic voice. The gem cutter
Mystery clocks make up an entire chapter of Cartier history and are a genuine enigma. What allows the hands to float in the centre of a dial that is totally transparent? Where are the mechanisms and the movement? These “miracles of timekeeping”, as they were called by the fashion magazine La Gazette du B on Ton in 1925, are the fruit of collaboration between Louis Cartier and an exceptional clockmaker, Maurice Coüet. The latter took his inspiration from the clocks of the famous illusionist and Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, father of modern magic. The principle, which he adapted and developed, is based on an ingenious concept: the hands are not directly linked to the movement, HKGOLFER.COM
THE PASSION OF PASHA
Multi-angle view of Cartier’s Mystery Clock with topaz dial (above left); the Pasha de Cartier 42mm Skeleton with panther décor 30
HK GOLFER・SEP 2014
but are attached to two crystal discs fitted with serrated metal edges. Activated by the movement, It is as a jeweller-poet that Cartier has approached which is usually housed in the clock’s base, these this watchmaking season dedicated to an animal theme, one of its favourite sources discs then turn the hands, of inspiration. Boldness and poetry one for the minutes hand and This new work come beautifully together around a the other for the hours hand. of art glorifies completely transparent panther that So that the illusion is perfect, the demanding offers a stunning demonstration of the edges of the discs are the art of watchmaking according concealed by the hour circle. alliance between To mark the 2014 edition jewellery creations to Cartier. This new work of art glorifies of Watches & Wonders, Cartier and traditional the demanding alliance between perpetuates this timekeeping jewellery creations and traditional miracle by replacing the watchmaking. watchmaking. The Pasha de transparency of rock crystal with the brilliance of natural topaz. The abstract Cartier 42 mm watch embraces a daring skeleton appearance and design of this unique timepiece movement: the diamond-set bridges have been is reinforced by Cartier through the use of delicately worked in lightweight transparency contrasting materials in the form of silver obsidian, to form a panther’s head whose stare seems to hypnotise time itself. onyx and opaque ruby. HKGOLFER.COM
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CLUBHOUSE | DRIVING RANGE
THE NEW I3 FROM BMW IS SIMPLY ELECTRIC, WRITES BEN OLIVER.
t may not look like it, but the new BMW i3 is one of the coolest cars you can all its torque from standstill and not just keeping buy: cooler even than the latest super car from Ferrari or Lamborghini. Why? pace with petrol-powered cars, but embarrassing Because it’s electric, so everyone will know you’re environmentally conscious. It’s them away from the lights, and doing it all in nearalso a really clever piece of engineering, so everyone will know you’re a smart, silence. tech-savvy early-adopter. And unlike the Tesla Model S, the other hot electric But the i3 adds F1-st yle carbon-fibre car of the moment, it has bold, edgy styling and a badge from an established, construc tion, an exceptionally elegant, desirable, premium German brand. BMW isn’t going to struggle to sell these. minimalist cabin, and a truly extraordinary level In most markets, buyers are still concerned about the of technology that makes limited distances some electric cars can drive before a lengthy In most markets, buyers using an electric car even recharging session. Tesla gets around this by asking a much easier. Your i3’s charging are still concerned about can b e monitore d and higher price for its cars, and giving them a much bigger the limited distances battery. In a city market like Hong Kong, range just isn’t an controlled from an app on issue. But if you really think that you’re going to drive more your smartphone. You can some electric cars can than around 150km (BMW claims more) before needing to plan a journey in advance on drive before a lengthy charge your i3 overnight, BMW has a cheaper solution than your phone or laptop and recharging session. In Tesla’s vast battery. You can specify your i3 with a ‘range send destinations to your i3’s a city like Hong Kong, extender’: a hyper-efficient two-cylinder petrol engine which sat-nav. In some markets, it never actually drives the wheels, but is used as a generator will know exactly where the range just isn’t an issue. to charge the battery on the move, and give you well over nearest charging points are, 250km of real-world range. and whether they’re free. But personally, I’d keep my i3 simple, light, cheaper and pure. And it’s a decision I The app can tell you how to get back to where might have to make: I test a lot of cars, but few that I like so much that I start making you’ve parked your i3, and how long it would plans to buy. Top Gear’s James May has already taken delivery of his. Old-fashioned take to continue your journey on foot or by public car enthusiasts like us like the way an electric car such as the i3 performs: delivering transport instead. If you take the car, when you
HK GOLFER・SEP 2014
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reach your destination the i3 can look around for a parking space and reverse itself into it, while you listen to one of the literally millions of songs on the cloud-based music services which you can stream into the i3’s cabin. And there’s more; far more than I can outline here. Few cars have debuted so much new technology at once. And one feature that comes as standard is the subtle nod of approval you’ll get from everyone who knows just how cool your i3 is. HKGOLFER.COM
HK GOLFER・SEP 2014
CLUBHOUSE | LIQUID ASSETS
TOP 10 WINE WONDERS JULIEN YUNG MAMEAUX, WINE EXPERT AND CEO OF THE EXPERIENCE COMPANY, TELLS US HIS ARTISTIC WINE DISCOVERIES.
f you think of wineries as bare production factories this will make you reconsider. Many estates have called in notable architects and designers to give a new life to their cellars – as long as the product remains of top quality. Let’s get a taste – in no order of preference– of the new art of winemaking.
EUROPE’S TOP 5: BACK TO THE FUTURE Chateau Cheval Blanc, Saint Emilion, France: in 2011 The Grand Cru Classe A on the right bank opened a brand new cellar that quickly became revolutionary in the world’s wine capital. The piece by architect Portzamparc is a jewel of understatement and harmony, a natural home for this Cabernet Franc – Merlot wine. For the history: Chateau Cheval Blanc 2011 (RP 96). L’AND, Alentejo, Portugal: As the Alentejo region is one of the largest producers of cork, it is natural that the area boasts its share of wineries. Amid forests and olive groves, L’AND winery is a little islet of modernity… both for its red wine and also its boutique hotel, Michelin-starred table and its spa. For the adventure: L’AND Vineyards 2010 (DWWA 2013). Marques de Riscal, Rioja, Spain: The oldest winery in La Rioja is also the one that showed the world the new face of Spanish wine. Known for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and Opus in Hong Kong, Frank Gehry turned the ancient property into a breathtaking chateau-spa. For the senses: Tempranillo Marques de Riscal Gran Reserva 1964 (WS 98). Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Graves, France: In an area that cultivates tradition as carefully as it grows wine, the Cathiards have brought poetry to the vineyards. Enjoy sculptures like “Papier Froisse” by Wang Du, “Hospitality” by Flanagan and “Nousaison” by Hoberman. For fresh perspectives: Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (RP 98). Petra, Tuscany, Italy: Named after the goddess of Earth, this winery design is virtually an ode to the Etruscans and the Greeks. Designer Mario Botta created a new version of the old, typical Tuscan houses, with local stones, arcades and a central, inclined panel of flowers. For the meditation: Petra Toscana IGT 2006 (WE 92). NEW WORLD’S TOP 5: THE SKY’S THE LIMIT Moorilla, Tasmania, Australia: Joined to the provoking Museum of New and Old Art (MONA), Moorilla is attached to the same principles of creativity. Winemaker Conor van der Reest creates a range of alternative if not disruptive wines under the Praxis range, the Muse Series, and the Cloth label. For the innovation: Moorilla Estate Muse Series Pinot Noir 2011 (James Halliday 95). Peregrine Wines, Central Otago, New Zealand: The stunning winery displays a giant, gently curved silvery canopy in the shape of a Peregrine falcon wing. The estate is gaining a reputation for both its environment protection and also its
HK GOLFER・SEP 2014
The Mario Botta-designed winery at Petra in Tuscany
winemaking, with a great choice of whites on offer. For the flight: Peregrine Gewurztraminer 2008 (James Goode 91). Dominus, Napa Valley, USA: The Californian estate owned by French winemaker Christian Moueix is a pleasure for all senses. Designed by architects Herzog and de Meuron, the 136-metre long structure of basalt rocks is the perfect continuation of Napanook vineyards. For the harmony: Bordeaux blend Dominus Estate 2002 (RP 99). O. Fournier, Valle de Uco, Argentina: Scifi-inclined wine lovers will admire this UFOshaped property. With the Andes Mountains as a stunning backdrop, the bodega has built an award-winning structure equipped with the latest technology, state-of-the-art laboratories, and soon a luxury hotel. For the imagination: O. Fournier Syrah 2002 (WS 91). Delaire Graff Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa: Proud of a unique terroir of high altitude and sea breezes, the estate also offers outstanding lodges, spa and dining facilities. Not surprising given the leadership of Laurence Graff OBE of the eponymous diamonds corporation. For the dream: Cabernet Sauvignon Delaire Graff Estate Reserve Red 2009 (Tim Atkin 95). Book your holiday with wine & lifestyle travel concierge The Experience Company (TheExCo. com) at +852 3488 9565 or Contact@TheExCo. com. 10% discount for “HKGolfer” readers for any trip taking place in 2014. HKGOLFER.COM
| TALES FROM THE BOX
Julian Tutt looks back at Rory McIlroy’s sensational summer before turning his attentions to this month’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
Daniel Wong (Tutt); AFP
Rory McIlroy (this page) will lead a European side heavily fancied to retain the Ryder Cup later this month at Gleneagles; Captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley 38
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he King is Dead (well at least temporarily indisposed), Long Live the King … Not since Tiger Woods burst onto the scene in the late 1990s has one man had such an impact on the game. Alistair MacLean, PG Wodehouse and Jeffery Archer between them couldn’t have come up with the plot that has seen Rory McIlroy fully emerge from the chrysalis to become golf’s undisputed number one and genuine superstar. The circumstances behind his hasty separation from Caroline Wozniacki, his fiancée, in the week of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth remain mired in gossip, rumour and intrigue and only his inner circle will probably ever know the full truth. The fact remains though that a rather disconsolate and uncomfortable looking young man went on to win the PGA; a tournament and a venue that he’s never particularly relished. Bravo. The US Open was all about Martin Kaymer with Rory barely in the picture, and the sheer, dominating brilliance of Kaymer’s victory made some think that he was the man for all seasons. Then Justin Rose won back-to-back in America and Scotland, the week before The Open, with McIlroy a distant nine shots behind. Could Rose win three in a row? Not when the young Northern Irishman cranks up his game and starts hitting 340-yard drives straight down the middle. McIlroy did have the best of the weather conditions on Thursday and Friday and the R&A’s unique decision to start Saturday’s play early from two tees was a huge bonus. Under normal rules he
would have been out in horrific weather in the later afternoon and might well have been blown away in the manner that Tiger was in the Saturday storm at Muirfield in 2002. (I’m probably one of the few people who still think it was a bad decision to bring play forward. One suspects though that the R&A will think long and hard before they ever do that again). But the way McIlroy finished the job on Sunday was clinical and hugely impressive. The WGCBridgestone Invitational followed, immediately before the US PGA Championship, where he was looking for three wins in a row and consecutive Majors. That’s climbing into pretty heady company, and for three days he looked more than up to the job. But the front nine on Sunday saw an apparently lacklustre Ulsterman showing signs of running out of gas. Mickelson and Fowler ahead of HKGOLFER.COM
him had the huge crowd baying and with Stenson on the rampage too, they smelt blood. Only Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed had seen the stars and stripes at the masthead of the top tournaments this season and the Kentucky masses badly wanted another home winner. McIlroy then did something that even Tiger has never managed; he won (fairly) comfortably coming from three shots behind on the back nine. The fact that he did it in near darkness, practically playing alongside Mickelson and Fowler in the group ahead just added to the intense drama and excitement. But for his back-nine implosion at the Masters Tournament in 2010 he could already have a career Grand Slam. He might well achieve that at Augusta next spring and be three-quarters of the way to a “Rory Slam”. There’s no question that he has taken huge strides physically and particularly mentally over the past few months. No one has ever questioned his immense talent to play the game, but he’s often looked vulnerable when things weren’t quite right, in a way that Tiger very rarely, if ever, did. That’s all changed, and whilst he maintains his charming and open demeanour (in a way that Tiger very rarely, if ever, did), he is now a man genuinely to be feared. The rest have given their best and come up short. There may still be a question mark as to how he will fare in hard and bouncy conditions, but one suspects he will now find a way. It will be intriguing to see whether he can maintain this momentum into the Ryder Cup. It’s a huge ask. When Padraig Harrington won The Open and the USPGA in 2008 he arrived at the Ryder Cup as a hollow shell with little left to give. The pressures on McIlroy are even greater thanks to his brilliance. HKGOLFER.COM
McIlroy then did something that even Tiger has never managed; he won coming from three shots behind on the back nine. The fact that he did it in near darkness, practically playing alongside Mickelson and Fowler in the group ahead just added to the intense drama and excitement. Paul McGinley is an intelligent man and will be a shrewd captain. Doubtless he will have given much thought as to how to get the best out of his young star. That must include not playing him in all five matches, although the temptation will be huge if he’s playing well. There’s no need for that now that Europe invariably has 12 worldclass players. McGinley’s team is just about as strong as he could hope for, although Kaymer’s form has tailed off dramatically since winning The Players Championship and The US Open, and Ian Poulter (assuming he’s had the Captain’s nod) has been struggling with his putting, which has traditionally been one of his great strengths. The bookies have Europe as clear favourites and it’s not hard to see why. Tom Watson has a headache; no Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, or Steve Stricker (Assistant Captain), and Jason Dufner and Matt Kuchar are both vulnerable with injuries. Jordan Spieth (who could yet form the next Great Triumvirate with McIlroy and Fowler) has dropped right out of form, leaving Bubba Watson, Mickelson, Fowler and Furyk as the main threat, bolstered by some (presumably) in-form picks. The PGA Centenary Course (regular readers will know what I think about that name!) is an uninspiring creation standing alongside James Braid’s wonderful King’s and Queen’s courses. It favours neither side in particular, meaning there’s very little home advantage. It is however a very good viewing course for the many thousands of spectators who will brave whatever conditions fate throws at them. Back in 2010 there were numerous injuries including broken limbs as the enthusiastic masses slithered and stumbled down the boggy Welsh hillsides of Celtic Manor. No doubt the brilliant St John’s Ambulance staff will be on red alert again. It’s not exactly flat at Gleneagles. The PGA of America summoned a former winning captain in Tom Watson to put some steel back into the US team. The way things stand right now he’ll need a large junk of Krypton too. Well, Superman did grow up in Kansas, Watson’s home state. Clark Kent or not, my money’s on an eighth European win in the last ten outings. On paper Europe are superior, but the Ryder Cup’s not played on paper. It could end as papier-mâché though if the Scottish weather doesn’t oblige! HK GOLFER・SEP 2014
| BY DESIGN
The of the
Award-winning architect Paul Jansen discusses the importance of selecting the right grass type for new golf courses in Asia.
Robin Moyer (Kau Sai Chau)
The East Course at The Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau, Hong Kong’s newest layout, features wall-towall Seashore Paspalum; workers lay out strips of Zoysia at the author’s design at Laguna Lang Co on Vietnam’s central coast 40
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he choice of grass for a new (or renovated) golf course is one of the most important decisions on any project. The cost to maintain this grass will run into millions of dollars over the years as green-keeping staff look to create play conditions that please the golfer, owner and architect – and not always in that order. In Hong Kong and South East Asia warm season grass dominate the play areas. These grasses are typically able to withstand high temperatures and large volumes of precipitation. The most popular grasses include: Manila grass (Zoysia matrella) Bermuda grass (Cynodon spp.) and Seashore Paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum). I have had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Southeast Asia these past few years, which has afforded me the opportunity to visit many golf courses as well as the chance to speak directly, and in detail, with those involved in golf course maintenance and upkeep. When it comes to grass selection (and the maintenance thereof) there are very few people more informed than the golf course superintendent. I personally enjoy listening and absorbing what these qualified individuals have to say about grass and maintenance. After all, this is their bread and butter and they know their conditions better than anyone. In fact if the choice of grass, on any new project, was left to a ‘local’ golf superintendent then I am willing to bet that the choice would
be the most responsible one most of the time – maybe even all the time. What may surprise you is that some of the superintendents (and this number is bigger than you think) have to manage a grass type that may not altogether be best suited to the situation. It’s not that any one of the warm-season grasses won’t grow in the region; it’s more about the maintenance cost differential between each one of these grass types. Let me explain in a little more detail. I have seen more golf courses in Asia with Bermuda grass than any of the other type. Bermuda grass is more than adequate as a playing surface but frequent mowing and large amounts of fertilizer are required to keep it in satisfactory condition. To go further, Bermuda grass is a non-native grass and so is susceptible to invasion from native grasses. It’s a high maintenance grass but establishes quickly and this I can’t help but think is the main reason why it’s so popular with architects and owners alike. Seashore Paspalum is “greener” than both Bermuda grass and Zoysia. Some may even deem it to be visually more striking than the other warm season grasses, which very likely contributes to its popularity. It’s also a more salttolerant grass which helps if the water source is poor, but it’s much more maintenance intense than either Bermuda or Zoysia and requires a lot more water to keep the playing surfaces in good condition. HKGOLFER.COM
Zoysia is not as popular on golf courses as Bermuda or Paspalum, which is hard to fathom given that it requires less in every way when compared to the other two. If it’s not the grass of choice for golf courses it’s certainly the most popular grass in the suburban areas where it grows on the sides of roads, in people’s backyards and even on the beach. It’s a low maintenance grass that is drought tolerant and has adapted to the climatic conditions prevalent in Southeast Asia. Many superintendents (and builders) regard Zoysia as the king of grass in the region. It has one demerit: it is slow establishing and this contributes to its lack of popularity. Choosing the right grass is more complicated than picking a favourite girlfriend – although at times I wonder if it’s not made to be over complicated. Indeed one needs to understand factors such as water quality, local climatic conditions and architectural intent, but if common sense prevailed you would choose a grass that historically has grown well in the existing conditions and ideally with as little manipulation as possible. Surely the best people to advise on this would be the local superintendents and those people particularly well versed in the specific grass types – ie those who have lived in the region and studied them in great detail. But today I can’t help but think that the decision to go with a certain grass type is too focused on the short-term value rather than the long-term benefit. For instance it’s understandable that an owner will want their golf course open for play as quickly as possible but I bet if that very person was made aware of the long-terms cost benefit of choosing a specific grass (at the cost of opening a month or two later), they would reconsider. I am also of the HKGOLFER.COM
But today I can’t help but think that the decision to go with a certain grass type is too focused on the short-term value rather than the long-term benefit. opinion that there is too much emphasis on grass appearance and its perceived visual appeal. Many of the best golf courses in the world, including St Andrews, are browner than green in the dry months and there is no problem with this. We in the golf business are charged with ensuring our golf courses today – and in the future – are sustainable places of practice. It’s our responsibility to ensure that they are environmentally friendly, and the choice of grass plays a big part in this. This is proven by the fact that grass can cover anywhere upwards of 25ha for an 18-hole golf course. To conclude, our climate is as erratic as it’s ever been and there is no reason to think things will become any more predictable. Hence we need to be much more conscious that our golf courses are adaptable into the future and this includes the grasses we choose. I know if I was a golf course owner I would want a grass that can stand the test of time with as little input as possible. Less is more in my opinion and this applies to most things in golf, including grass.
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| US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Rory McIlroy ended the summer in style by capturing his fourth major championship with a gutsy come-from-behind performance at Valhalla. Photography by Charles McLaughlin and AFP 42
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Rory McIlroy celebrates holing the winning putt to claim his second US PGA Championship title in three years HKGOLFER.COM
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The scary thing for McIlroy’s peers is that the drama-charged final day at Valhalla forged a new weapon to add to his already considerable arsenal of talents: how to win without you’re ‘A’ game.
Rory McIlroy’s US PGA Championship victory at soggy Valhalla Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky extended his major championship total to four and his stunning summer winning streak from as many huge events – The Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Championship and the US PGA – to three. Along with it, he’s had us reaching for the superlatives yet again and re-inked the history books that aren’t yet dry from the previous major instalment at Hoylake. The Northern Irishman’s dominance over the summer months has put golf, and McIlroy himself, back on the front pages for all the right reasons. In the blink of an eye, issues with equipment, management, court cases and relationships have been consigned to fish and chip wrapping, yesterday’s news. Let’s tick off some of the records set, starting with the most historic. McIlroy joins Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the
Phil Mickelson now has nine secondplaced finishes in major championships after his runner-up placing behind McIlroy at Valhalla
e’ve seen this before, but from only a precious few.
only players in the last century to hold four major championships by the age 25 or less. He became the second youngest to win two US PGA Championships, behind Tiger Woods, and the 18th player to win two majors in the one season. “I thought winning The Open championship a few weeks ago had sort of put me on a higher level in this game,” McIlroy said. “I never thought I’d get this far at 25 years of age. “I was happy being a two-time major champion coming into the year; all of a sudden I’m a four-time major champion.” The scary thing for McIlroy’s peers is that the drama-charged final day at Valhalla forged a new weapon to add to his already considerable arsenal of talents: how to win without you’re ‘A’ game. It’s a trait that very few in the history of the sport have been able to boast but it is another attribute he now shares with Nicklaus and Woods, who could both find a way to win in the most trying of circumstances. It’s arguable McIlroy even had his ‘B’ game firing after starting the final round with a onestroke lead but slipping early to fall behind a hungry pack that included perennial crowd favourite Phil Mickelson, the season’s perennial major contender Rickie Fowler and the perennially overdue Henrik Stenson. The world’s best front runner suddenly looked vulnerable on a sodden golf course that was haemorrhaging birdies to all and sundr,y including McIlroy’s playing partner, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, who had made the cut in just one of five major starts prior to this week.
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With twilight falling rapidly into darkness, McIlroy and Wiesberger in the final group were sportingly permitted to hit off the 18th tee by Mickelson and Fowler (with some help by PGA officials) while they waited in the fairway to make their final bids for victory.
AFP / Courtesy of Omega
Clockwise from above: Rickie Fowler has come of age in the major championships this year; Henrik Stenson again came close to claiming his maiden major title; McIlroy with the enormous Wanamaker Trophy; the Northern Irishman in full flow 46
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At Hoylake a month earlier, McIlroy grabbed the championship by the scruff of the neck with late eagles over the final holes to distance himself from the field at the completion of the third round. Three strokes adrift at the turn at Valhalla, McIlroy seized the moment again with a single, majestic ‘result’ on the par-5 10th that also turned this championship on its head. A 3-wood from over 280 yards came out of the neck of the club, the ball bouncing along the left fringe of the fairway before feeding onto the green and to within eight-feet of the hole for eagle. “That was the turning point for the day,” he said. “You need a little bit of luck in major championships to win and that was my lucky break.” After that, you knew the putt was destined to
be a mere formality, and so it was. Unlike Hoylake however, McIlroy’s challengers looked to not only absorb but be inspired by the world number one’s surge back into contention. Ahead, Fowler, Mickelson and Stenson continued the surge of their own to tie for the lead at 15-under before McIlroy birdied the 13th to draw level. As the finishing line loomed fast, although ‘gloomed’ fast might be more appropriate in the rapidly fading light following a two-hour rain delay earlier in the day, all of a sudden McIlroy’s contenders faltered with bogeys to drop back to 14-under, restoring McIlroy’s slim overnight lead once again. A birdie following a peerless approach from a fairway bunker on 17 stretched the advantage to two with a hole to play but the back nine histrionics of the year’s final and most exciting major were not over yet. With twilight falling rapidly into darkness, McIlroy and Wiesberger in the final group were sportingly permitted to hit off the 18th tee by Mickelson and Fowler (with some help by PGA officials) while they waited in the fairway to make their final bids for victory. “It was a classy move for those guys to do that,” McIlroy said. “They could have had us standing and wait on the 18th tee while it was getting dark. It was great sportsmanship and shows the great character of those two guys, and I’m glad they did it.” McIlroy’s tee shot sailed dangerously close to the hazard on the right and may have found the water but for the soft conditions. But the drama didn’t stop there as Mickelson and Fowler were asked by official to wait again to allow the final group to play up to the green. This later concession seemed at best to bemuse Mickelson and Fowler who in ideal circumstances could have forced McIlroy’s hand to play more aggressively had they managed to eagle the last to force a tie. As it was, both players made gallant but unsuccessful bids for the tie and McIlroy was able to play safely with a greenside explosion and a carefully two-putt for a 16-under total, one ahead of Mickelson, with Fowler and Stenson two shots back. “I’d never dreamed I’d have a summer like this,” McIlroy said after hoisting his second Wanamaker Trophy. “This was different than my previous major wins, I showed a lot of guts to get this one done.” Fowler’s magnificent season in the majors continued without being able to actually break through. He became the first player in a year to finish in the top-five of every major without lifting a trophy, and his disappointment at the result is further testament to his growing stature HKGOLFER.COM
in the game. “This is the first one that hurts,” Fowler said. “Obviously, I did some great playing this year. My performance in the majors is something I can look back on and be proud of.” Mickelson’s wretched 2014 almost turned around in one fell swoop but there was a silver lining in running so close to McIlroy via automatically qualifying for his 10th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September. “It was a hard fought day.” Mickelson said, “I’m disappointed in the outcome. I thought that had I been able to finish those last five or six holes strong, it could have totally flipped the way I look at this year.” There’s so much in McIlroy’s immediate future, with the FedEx Cup before heading up Europe’s defence of the Ryder Cup in Scotland, but the eight months he will need to wait till Augusta will now be an even more agonising wait. Winning the Claret Jug at Hoylake gave him the third leg of the career Grand Slam with only the Masters Tournament left to conquer. Following the US PGA, Augusta now represents not only a career slam opportunity for McIlroy but a tilt at a third successive major. A win at Augusta would be an outrageous achievement, but dare we dream of him going on to win four majors straight, with a win at the US Open at Chambers Bay? Only Tiger Woods has been in this rarefied air in the modern era but McIlroy is fast proving he’s cut from the same cloth, one of the precious few. As Mickelson summed up: “He’s better than everyone else right now.” HKGOLFER.COM
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RORY’S WIN A WIN FOR OMEGA Rory McIlroy’s win was also a victory for his OMEGA, for whom the Northern Irishman is a brand ambassador. The luxury Swiss watchmaker, which is the Official Timekeeper for the PGA of America and the US PGA Championship – a deal that was recently extended through to 2022 – was clearly delighted with McIlroy’s performance, with President Stephen Urqhuart declaring: “We congratulate Rory on his outstanding play at Valhalla and all that he has accomplished this year. In our fourth year as a partner and Official Timekeeper of the PGA of America, it is thrilling to see our own OMEGA Ambassador win at the 2014 PGA Championship.” Following the Wanamaker Trophy presentation, President of The PGA of America Ted Bishop presented McIlroy with the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m timepiece to commemorate his victory at Valhalla. “I’m not sure if I’ll wear it or not,” said McIlroy of his new commemorative OMEGA timepiece. “I might just put it in a trophy case so that every time I look at it, it will remind me of my win here at Valhalla.” The Biel-based brand, which was founded in 1848, has long supported the sport of golf internationally, serving as the sponsor of the European Masters, the Dubai Desert Classic and the Dubai Ladies Masters. In 2013, OMEGA took its association with golf to an even greater level by signing three of golf’s professional elite – McIlroy, Stacy Lewis and China’s Shanshan Feng. Its roster of brand ambassadors also include a number of other stars such as Sergio Garcia, Davis Love III, Michelle Wie and Noh Seung-yul, and one of the game’s all-time legends – Greg Norman, the “Great White Shark”.
2014 US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL STANDINGS
66 66 67 68
69 67 67 66
66 71 67 66
69 66 67 68
66 68 72 66
65 70 69 68
69 71 68 65
70 70 68 65
69 68 70 66
70 71 65 67
67 68 69 69
69 68 68 68
13= Brandt Snedeker
73 68 66 67
65 74 67 68
15= Charl Schwartzel
72 68 69 66
71 71 66 67
71 71 66 67
65 72 69 69
71 69 66 69
69 68 68 70
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OMEGA will be on hand as Official Timekeeper when golf returns to the Olympics Games for the first time in more than a century. In its long-standing role as Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games (this year’s Olympic Winter Games in Sochi was the 26th time the brand has fulfilled the role), OMEGA says it is looking forward to golf’s return as an Olympic sport when Rio de Janeiro host the Summer Games in 2016.
The number of top-5 finishes that R ick ie Fowler has had in major c h a mpi o n s h ip s t h i s y e a r. T h e American, who only has one PGA Tour win to his credit, finished T5 at the Masters Tournament, T2 at the US Open and T2 at the Open Championship before his T3 at Valhalla.
T he percentage of fa ir ways t hat Ph i l Mickelson hit, which was a shade below the average of the field at the US PGA. The left-hander, who nearly holed his eagle chip at the last, has now had an incredible nine second-placed finishes in major championships.
R or y Mc I l roy ’s average d r ive at Valhalla during the week, which was 28.2 yards further than the average. McIlroy’s big hitting helped him to make two eagles during the week, the most of any player. HKGOLFER.COM
Red-Hot Tam Scoops Faldo Series Crown Kitty Tam (pictured) kept her cool in the heat of battle, producing a sizzling birdie spree en route to retaining her Faldo Series Hong Kong Championship crown at the end of July. With temperatures soaring into the mid-30s, Tam’s game caught fire as she posted a scintillating second round of fiveunder-par 68 over the demanding North Course at the Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Course. That gave her a 36-hole total of 141 and a seven-stroke winning margin from Michelle Cheung, the first-day leader. It also guaranteed Tam a place in the starting line-up for the ninth Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Mission Hills next March. Tam, who topped the overall standings as well as winning the Girls’ Under-21 category, said: “I’m excited to win and qualify for my fourth Faldo final. My best finish at Mission Hills is runner-up in my age group so I hope to go one better in March and become Hong Kong’s first winner. Joining Tam at the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final – a World Amateur Golf Ranking event – across the border early next year will be Michelle Liu Lok-in (Girls’ Under-16 winner), Isaac Lam (Boys’ Under-16 winner) and Ng Hon-lam, who edged Leung Hin-yee on a countback in the Boys’ Under-21 category. The Faldo Series Hong Kong Championship was played in conjunction with the 2014 Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Junior Open presented by now TV.
HK Solid at Youth Olympic Games Lucas Lam and Kitty Tam (seen here with HKGA coach Ducky Tang) represented Hong Kong at last month’s Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing and despite not finishing among the medals, both walked away from the event with their heads held high after solid performances over the course at Zhongshan International Golf Club. In the boys’ division, Lam opened up with consecutive rounds of 79 before ending with an 81 to finish in 29th, while the in-form Tam sandwiched an impressive 70 with 78 and 75 to earn a share of 17th spot in the girls’ division. Their combined scores meant that Hong Kong finished the team competition in 23rd place. Nanjing 2014 is the first time since 1908 golf has been included in Olympic competition and was an opportunity for young golfers from all over the world to participate in this event two years before golf is reintroduced into the Summer Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. 50
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HK JUNIOR CLOSE
Max Ting kept his composure in check to fire two solid rounds and win last month’s Hong Kong Junior Open. Photography by Daniel Wong
ax Ting held his nerve last month to claim the Hong Kong Junior Open Championship for the first time. Fourteen-year-old Ting, a member at host venue Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club, followed up his opening one-over 71 with a 73 in the final round to hold off Thailand’s Tripop Sirisambandh by four strokes. Ting’s fellow Hong Kong junior international Leon D’Souza finished third, a further shot adrift. “It was good today,” said Ting, who rose to prominence last December when, aged 13, he qualified for the Hong Kong Open, a European Tour event. “I had quite a big lead so I was able to stay calm over the closing holes. I’ve been able to practice quite a lot recently – I represented Hong Kong at the Junior World [Championships] last month – so my game is improving.” In the girls’ division, China’s Yin Yuan-ru (143) eased to a fivestroke win over compatriot Zhu Wen-qi in second place. Chang Yi-chia (149) bagged solo third. Selina Li was Hong Kong’s best performer. Rounds of 74 and 78 gave earned her fourth spot. Full results can be found at hkga.com.
BOYS’ OVERALL RESULTS
GIRLS’ OVERALL RESULTS
1 Max Ting
1 Yin Yuan Ru
2 Tripop Sirisambandh
2 Zhu Wen Qi
3 Leon D’Souza
3 Chang Yi Chia
4= Wang Hsi-An
4 Selina Li
5= Michelle Lee
7= Xie Shao Jun
Emily Vickie Leung
8 Li Kai-wing
Michael Regan Wong
9 Queenie Lai
10 Pan Shan
10 Terence Chiu
Max Ting receives his silverware from HKGA Vice-President Mark Chan
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Third-placed Leon D’Souza
Justin Lok on his way to tied fourth
Humphrey Wong hits down the 10th
Fourth-placed Selina Li was Hong Kong’s best performer in the girls’ division
Michael Regan Wong on his way to a share of seventh Boys’ champion Max Ting
Yin Yuan Ru of China cruised to victory in the girls’ bracket
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COVER STORY | MICHELLE WIE
Victory at the US Women’s Open in June at Pinehurst gave Michelle Wie the first major championship title of her career 54
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"She's More Passionate Than She's Ever Been" Acclaimed instructor David Leadbetter talks to Lewine Mair about the topsy-turvy career of one of his most prized students – Michelle Wie.
addies, managers and trainers have come and gone in Michelle Wie’s life but David Leadbetter has remained a constant. The coach has steered his charge through highs and lows to the point where she earlier this year joined his long list of major winners – a list taking in such great names as Nick Faldo, Ernie Els and Nick Price. To recap, in June Wie finished two ahead of Stacy Lewis at Pinehurst to capture the US Open, a performance worthy of the hype that been heaped on her since she first hit the media spotlight as a teenage prodigy.
Where there are other teachers who might have found it difficult to school a player so closely bound to her parents, BJ and Bo, Leadbetter has never found it a problem. He realised at the outset that the best way forward was for him to work with the family. “I always give BJ and Bo credit,” he says. “There’s no rule book on how to handle a child prodigy and, considering the amount of flak the family have had to take, they’ve done well. They were protective when they felt they needed to be and now they’ve given Michelle more freedom and she’s thriving on it. She’s more passionate about her golf than she’s ever been.”
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"There’s no rule book on how to handle a child prodigy and, considering the amount of flak the family have had to take, they’ve done well."
Wie following her twostroke victory at Pinehurst (above); with longtime instructor David Leadbetter, who has coached Wie since she was in her early teens 56
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Leadbetter felt for the Wies in those years when players and public alike were so critical of the route the then 14-year-old Michelle was taking in peppering her schedule with men’s tournaments. “It all started with the Sony Open,” he recalls. “Michelle got a wild-card because the event was in her backyard in Hawaii and because she was out on her own in amateur golf on the island. Of course it made sense for her to accept. “Lots of people said that she should have been doing as Tiger did in playing on the USGA’s junior circuit and winning in all the different age-groups. But what these people failed to take into account was the time and expense involved in flying over to the mainland. That’s something which certainly didn’t make sense.” Following on from there, Leadbetter says he had no problem in understanding why Michelle yearned for more invitations from
the men after missing the cut at the Sony by a single shot. She eventually had the satisfaction of making a cut in Korea, but such was the mounting pressure and criticism back in the States that she played worse rather than better and took it upon herself to call a halt to the experiment. Not, mind you, that she had any regrets; she was proud of the way she had “thought out of the box”. When it comes to the technical side of the game, Leadbetter and the Wie’s modus operandi is as follows. Since Michelle is not remotely interested in looking at videos of her swing, she is happy for her father, an engineer, to do it for her. Hence the reason that Leadbetter and BJ will confer over the swing sequences in order that BJ can keep an eye on whether Michelle is making a good fist of interpreting what Leadbetter wants her to do. In contrast to the above, Leadbetter confirms that Michelle’s “table-top” putting stance is entirely down to her. She had been pondering on all those smaller Asian golfers whose putting statistics were so much better than the norm and eventually she came to the conclusion that they benefited from being closer to the ground. HKGOLFER.COM
Wie, who likened herself to “a bendy flag-stick” when the wind was playing up during the Women's British Open two years ago, started experimenting with her new method in Dubai towards the end of 2013. Leadbetter had been around far too long to throw up his hands in horror. After all, he had seen plenty of weird and wonderful putting styles across the years which worked perfectly well – Jack Nicklaus’s for one. “Jack,” says Leadbetter, “wasn’t exactly orthodox in the way he was bent over and crab-like over the ball but no one was going to tell him that it wasn’t right. My feeling with Michelle was ‘Hey, if she feels comfortable, let her get on with it”. To begin with, Leadbetter fended off the adverse comments of others with jokes along the lines that his player had eaten some camel meat and was bent double with food-poisoning. But it was not too long before Michelle’s improved putting statistics were telling their own story. In time, Leadbetter lit on one thing which had to happen if she were to render the method still more effective: she needed a putter which married better with the stance. HKGOLFER.COM
It was in the week before the US Open that Nike produced such a putter, one where the toe did not rear up at the end. Michelle loved it straightaway. Having finished down at 119th in the LPGA’s putting stats in 2012 and risen to 51st by the end of 2013, she was up at 34th post Pinehurst. For another aspect of Wie’s game which has changed dramatically across the years, Leadbetter points to Wie’s driving. When she was playing alongside the men, she could keep up with or even out-hit some among them. Ian Poulter was just one of the names Leadbetter used to advance. “At 14,” said Leadbetter, “Michelle had a whippet-like body and swing and could hit for miles. Today, she can still hit long when she has to but she’s a more solid striker and a straighter one.” On a different tack, nothing appeals to Leadbetter more than the way his player has done so much to balance the ledger at a time when more and more girls are thinking that they should give up their schooling to concentrate on golf. “Parents,” he says, “look at Charley Hull and Lydia Ko and think that that’s the way to go but HK GOLFER・SEP 2014
“Michelle’s dealt with much of what Lydia [Ko] is having to deal with and Lydia sees Michelle as someone who understands.”
Wunderkind: Wie as a 14-year-old playing at the Sony Open in Hawaii against the men. She would miss the cut by just a single shot. 58
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I say to them, ‘Look at Michele. She’s 24 and is that really too old?’” He thinks that Michelle’s years at Stanford, where she graduated in the realm of media studies, contributed hugely to where she is now. “Michelle,” he says, “is a thoroughly well-rounded individual, someone who can handle everything to do with golf and the on-tour lifestyle.” He understands the argument that girls are different from boys in that they develop more quickly physically. Also, he will never dismiss out of hand the suggestion that starting young will enable a player to stop at 30 and have a family. By way of a compromise, he recommends a truncated university career as being better than nothing: “Even two years can help with the growing up process.” He sees Ko, with her amazing amateur credentials, as a player who was probably right to make the transition sooner rather than later but still he worries about her. As he sees it, his new pupil is practicing too hard and is in danger of running into unnecessary injury problems. “Lydia,” he says, “is only 17 and if she keeps going at this pace, things are going to get out of hand.” He remembers Wie making kindred mistakes
at a time when she and her family did not fully understand the implications of injury problems tucked away, say, in a wrist. There was more than one occasion when Michelle came back too soon and, even as recently as 2012, there was no question that was affected by a degree of physical and mental burn-out. Leadbetter still winces at the memory of how an injured Wie set out to play alongside the men in the 2005 Omega European Masters in one of those periods when she was light years removed from full fitness. She finished last, or close to last, and her performance precipitated a fresh wave of criticism, with the European Tour deciding, then and there, that they would not want a repeat performance. When Leadbetter saw how much good it did Michelle to take six weeks off at the start of this season – “the whole family went back to Hawaii and she didn’t touch a club in that period” – he made sure that Ko was aware. Not only that, but he asked Wie to talk to her – past prodigy to present. “There is a certain empathy between them,” says Leadbetter. “Michelle’s dealt with much of what Lydia is having to deal with and Lydia sees Michelle as someone who understands.” HKGOLFER.COM
Courtesy of the Gleneagles Hotel
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The Jack Nicklausdesigned Centenary Course at Gleneagles, which hosts the Ryder Cup this month, is a thoroughly modern affair, one that is unlikely to provide either team a particular advantage
The epic biennial team match that is the Ryder Cup is once again upon us, but as Alex Jenkins explains, the Europeans are going to have to fight hard to ensure the Cup remains on their shores.
here's nothing quite like the Ryder Cup. By far and away golf's premier team event, this year's edition, which takes place from 26-28 September at the stunning Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire , will see US skipper Tom Watson lead a side desperate to avenge that spectacular loss at the hands of Europe at Medinah two years ago. He’ll have his work cut out however because Europe, skippered by the tenacious Paul McGinley, will go into the event as firm favourites, thanks in part to the strength of their side – spearheaded by world number one Rory McIlroy – their home advantage and, arguably the most important asset, their camaraderie. Taking part in a Ryder Cup, for most Europeans, is rated second only to winning a major. Indeed, Colin Montgomerie, one of the greatest players in the Cup’s history, even went as far as saying that nothing in golf could surpass
the importance of a Ryder Cup victory. While you have to take the Scot’s words with a pinch of salt – he famously never won a major championship on the regular tour, although he has since won two as a senior – there is no doubting the significance that the Europeans place in the competition. Even in leaner years, when their side looked on paper to be vastly inferior to their American counterparts, their strength was always greater than the sum of its parts, with relative unknowns like Phillip Price, David Gilford and McGinley himself rising to the occasion and pulling off remarkable wins when it mattered most. The stats themselves make easy reading for European fans: their team has won five of the six Cups that have been played this century and you have to go back to 1993 when the Americans last tasted success on European soil. Adding to Watson’s woes is the fact that he’ll be without two of his main men. Although
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The stats themselves make easy reading for European fans: their team has won five of the six Cups that have been played this century and you have to go back to 1993 when the Americans last tasted success on European soil.
AFP / Courtesy of Rolex / Courtesy of the Gleneagles Hotel
Clockwise from above: Paul McGinley will be looking to make it six wins in seven events for his European side; Jordan Spieth is one of at least three rookies for the American team; Martin Kaymer celebrates holing the winning putt in 2012 at Medinah; Ryder Cup stalwart Phil Mickelson played his way into the side with his fine end-of-year play; there can be few venues as picturesque as Gleneagles 62
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Tiger Woods has never been at his best during the Ryder Cup – his record of 13 wins, 17 losses and three halved matches is surprisingly poor and contrasts strikingly with the form he’s displayed at the Presidents Cup – there can be little doubt that the American side is weaker without him. The same can also be said of Dustin Johnson. The long-hitting Johnson, who has taken a leave of absence from the professional game amid much speculation about his private life, will certainly be missed. Although the match is being played in Scotland, the Centenary Course at Gleaneagles is a thoroughly modern affair, one that was designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus. You have to think that Johnson, who prior to his withdrawal had been in rich vein of form, would have bagged a hatful of points for his captain. So the Americans are up against it. Or are they? Some have derided their side (even before Watson announces his wildcard picks) as the worst since the US team that capitulated at the
K Club in 2006, losing by a full nine points. The Americans fielded four rookies that year and they’ll have at least three at Gleneagles this time around. But in Jimmy Walker (three-time winner on the PGA Tour this year), Jordan Spieth (one of the most promising young prospects in the game today) and Patrick Reed (a feisty competitor who has already won a World Golf Championships event) talent abounds. Mix this with the experience of the in-form Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, double Masters champion Bubba Watson and the impressive Rickie Fowler and this is certainly a team that could spring a surprise. If anything, holding underdog status is a boon for the Americans. In 2008 at Valhalla, when the Europeans were expected to clean up, that Tiger-less side, captained expertly by Paul Azinger, gelled immediately and completely outplayed Nick Faldo’s. Who’s to say the same won’t materialise again? That’s the beauty of the Ryder Cup. Very little is certain. But it’s sure to provide great entertainment. HKGOLFER.COM
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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE RYDER CUP
The first official Ryder Cup competition is held at Worcester Country Club, Massachusetts, USA. In 1921, matches similar in format to the Ryder Cup were played in Perthshire, but Samuel Ryder attended the 1926 match and donated the cup, and so the official Ryder Cup was born.
1936 1937 1939 1967 1969
Samuel Ryder, who sponsored and donated the trophy for the very first Ryder Cup, passes away in London.
The US team wins in Lancashire, England, with a score of 8–4, marking the first time a team wins on foreign soil. As a result of World War II, all Ryder Cup matches from 1939 to 1945 are cancelled – four matches in total. The US defeats Europe with the highest score in Ryder Cup history: 23½–8½ at Champions Golf Club in Texas, USA.
The Cup sees its very first draw when Jack Nicklaus famously concedes a short putt to Tony Jacklin, ensuring that the US retains the Ryder Cup after winning the previous event.
British player Peter Butler scores the tournament’s first hole-in-one at Muirfield, Scotland. The British team adds players from the Republic of Ireland for the first time, but the US continues to dominate.
GLENEAGLES: HOME OF THE OLD AND THE NEW Despite the Gleneagles Hotel celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, the PGA Centenary Course is one of the more modern additions to the Scottish golfing landscape. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the championship layout opened in 1993 and was originally called the Monarch’s Course. At the time, Nicklaus described it as “the finest parcel of land in the world I have ever been given to work with”. Created specifically to host big tournaments, the PGA Centenary Course has achieved this, playing home to the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles since 1999 (incidentally, Diageo, the owners of the Johnnie Walker brand are also owners of Gleneagles). The King’s Course, one of the two other James Braiddesigned layouts on the estate, is no stranger to tournament golf either, having previously hosted the Scottish Open from 1987 to 1994.
WHERE THE RYDER CUP COULD BE DECIDED The 16th hole on the Centenary Course could be the big turning point for quite a few matches over the three days as players decide whether or not to take on this long par-5 in two. The wide fairway is dissected by a fairway bunker some 285 yards from the back tee, which will force players to lay up should they find the sand. Avoid it and a lengthy second shot is on the cards to find the long, thin green in two. Take this route and the player will need to cross a water hazard before finding the heavily contoured green. An eagle here would be priceless.
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The Great Britain team branches out to include Continental Europe and is subsequently known as the European Ryder Cup team.
After a record 13 consecutive victories for the US, Europe finally defeats the Americans at The Belfry with a score of 16½–11½. Scotland’s Sam Torrance sinks the winning putt.
The teams record the second tie in Ryder Cup history. As per the rules of the event, Europe retains the Cup.
Dubbed “the War on the Shore”, the rivalry between Paul Azinger and Seve Ballesteros intensifies after they accuse each other of cheating at the previous Ryder Cup event. The match is closely contested, with the pair provoking each other on the course, and the US ultimately prevails with a score of 14½–13½.
Spain’s Valderrama hosts the Ryder Cup, marking the first time the event is held outside the US or the United Kingdom.
The US team is caught up in controversy when supporters run onto the green after a magnificent putt by Justin Leonard on the 17th – running over the putting line of his opponent, José María Olazábal. The event becomes known as “the Battle of Brookline”.
Once again, the Ryder Cup is postponed, this time because of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 September. The match is moved to 2002, although it is still referred to as “the 2001 Ryder Cup”.
2006 2008 2010
Europe grabs its third straight victory, finishing with a comfortable 18½ to 9½ win. Team USA, without the injured Tiger Woods, secures its first victory since 1999.
Graeme McDowell beats Hunter Mahan in his singles match at Celtic Manor in Wales to end a strong American comeback and win the Ryder Cup for the Europeans.
A remarkable comeback on the final day from 10-6 down sees the Europeans complete “the Miracle at Medinah”, winning by 14½ to 13½.
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Beginnings The glorious Perthshire resort hosted the first ‘Ryder Cup’-style match against the United States over nine decades ago. Some say that it can even lay claim to be its spiritual home … if only that first encounter had not gone quite so badly! Story by Dale Concannon. Pictures courtesy of Old Golf Images
Courtesy of Old Golf Images
he eyes of the golfing world will be on Gleneagles this month as Ryder Cup gets underway. What few people know is that six years before St Albans seed merchant Samuel Ryder put his name to the bi-annual slug-fest between professionals from Britain and America, this quiet corner of Perthshire played host to a similar match. 66
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Long forgotten to all but the Right Honourable Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, he made reference to it in a speech prior to the memorable 2012 match at Medinah Country Club near Chicago. In it he described how much he looked forward to the match returning to its “spiritual” home of Scotland two years later. “For it was in Gleneagles in 1921,” he proclaimed with fervent nationalistic passion, “that the first international match was played HKGOLFER.COM
that inspired the Ryder Cup ...” What Mr Salmond failed to mention is what a complete and utter calamity it proved and how it would be many years before someone felt brave enough to reintroduce the format we enjoy today. Not so much the “Miracle of Medinah” but more the “Curse of Gleneagles,” the story of that first match involved a half-built hotel, railway carriages substituting as sleeping quarters and a barely playable golf course. No wonder it took another six years before Old Sam Ryder uttered those immortal words: “we must do this again ...” Details are sketchy but most historians credit Ohio businessman Sylvanus P Jermain with coming up with original idea for an international match for professionals. Instrumental in getting British stars Harry Vardon and Edward Ray to compete in the 1920 US Open at his home Club of Inverness, he even commissioned a silver trophy in the hope it would happen one day. That dream became reality in February 1921 when the PGA of America received a surprise invitation from the owners of the new Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. Advertised as “The Palace in the Glens” and “The Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Caledonian Railway Company cordially invited them to send a representative group of professionals to play in their Glasgow Herald-sponsored ‘1,000 Guinea Golf Tournament.’ Scheduled for the first week in June, they even penciled in a ‘GB versus USA International Challenge Match’ for the 6th – the day preceding the main event. HKGOLFER.COM
The story of that first match involved a half-built hotel, railway carriages substituting as sleeping quarters and a barely playable golf course.
Clockwise from above: 1921 map of the course; Gleneagles poster from 1924; the competitors’ medal; the British team for the match, including Harry Vardon and Abe Mitchell
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Courtesy of Old Golf Images
Described in the cablegram as: “a massive handsome affair and quite suitable to represent the championship of the world,” the invitation was enthusiastically accepted along with another from the British PGA to play in the Open Championship at St Andrews two weeks later. The only problem now was finding the money and while Mr Jermain took no part in the actual organization, he did donate a sizable sum to “The British Open Championship Fund” set up by James Hartnett, Circulation Manager of Golf Illustrated magazine, to cover travel expenses. Setting sail from New York on 23 May onboard RMS Aquitania the American ‘team’ landed in Southampton ten days later. It was not an auspicious start. Taking the sleeper train from Southampton to Glasgow many arrived in Scotland still struggling to overcome the effects of sea-sickness. Not that it made much difference to the quality of the side. Established players like Jim Barnes and Gene Sarazen had refused the trip and apart from Walter Hagen – who still had to make his mark in Britain despite being a two-time US Open champion – the group included a motley bunch of inexperienced pros like Clarence Hackney, ‘Wild Bill’ Mehlhorn and Tom Kerrigan. Indeed, the nearest the ‘American’ side came to star players were Scottish exiles Jock Hutchison (who went on to win the Open at St Andrews two weeks later) and the 1908 US Open champion, Fred McLeod, who later declared that he only wanted to return to Scotland to visit his elderly mother. Lying in wait at Gleneagles was a British side that included the legendary ‘Triumvirate’ of Harry Vardon, JH Taylor and James Braid. No longer the players they once were at least they were joined by reigning US Open champion Edward Ray and the 1920 Open winner, George Duncan. Along with rising stars Abe Mitchell and Arthur Havers, it definitely looked a touch one-sided with veteran Scottish professional Andra Kirkaldy predicting a complete whitewash saying, “Those Yanks haven’t got a chance in hell.” Considering the conditions that greeted them on their arrival at Gleneagles the ‘Sage of St Andrews’ may well have been right: despite being described as 68
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“pretty as a picture” by Hagen, the James Braiddesigned King’s Course had only been open for play since 1919. Rubbished in the press for its ragged fairways and unkempt greens, Bernard Darwin of The Times even mentioned how: “The sand used in the bunkers is of the wrong type being far too gritty and full of shells.” Sadly that was small beans compared with the state of the so-called luxury Gleneagles Hotel. Faced with little more than a massive building site, it wasn’t scheduled to open its doors to the paying public for another two years! Even James Gourlay, Chairman of Outram & Co, referred to it as: “Rather a blot on the landscape.” Accommodation was obviously a big problem. A story even went out that rooms set aside for the American team had been hit by lightning just weeks before which had destroyed the roof above where they planned to sleep. Adding to the rumour that the hotel was somehow cursed, it was more likely that it simply did not have a roof ready in time! Either way it was a far cry from the description which said how Gleneagles was: “admirably suited to such an international contest ...” Without a bed for the week American team members were shuttled off each evening to a railway siding at nearby Gleneagles Station. Forced to hunker down in five sleeping carriages they were even forced to fetch and carry their own water to the washrooms each morning. This HKGOLFER.COM
included Hagen, who often employed an Indian manservant to run his baths for him in America. Unlike the Brits who were comfortably lodged in a local hotel, food was also an issue. Spending most evenings trawling around Auchterarder High Street searching for something more appetizing than boiled beef or haggis, at least they were able to enjoy a dram or two of whisky – something denied to them in the Prohibitionhit United States. The match when it finally took place proved a big disappointment as Britain thrashed America 10½ to 4½. Losing three of the opening fourball matches and six of the individual ties, it was not even close. The 1,000 Guineas Tournament also offered little consolation as Englishman Abe Mitchell beat Australian pro Joe Kirkwood to take the honours and the £160 cash prize. Maybe the Gleneagles Curse had got its way after all? Heading home it was certain that neither team saw themselves as pioneers. Sam Ryder’s cup was six years distant and nobody in America – especially Walter Hagen – was keen to risk another thrashing at British hands. After the international match, commemorative gold medals were presented to all the players courtesy of the Glasgow Herald but no one suggested that it become a regular event. Or if they did, no one listened. Put simply, the experiment had failed. Considered little more than a crude exhibition HKGOLFER.COM
Clockwise from above: Competitors for the 1,000 Guinea Tournament; the Hotel in 1944; Harry Vardon, Ted Ray, James Braid and JH Taylor
match, crowds were sparse and the atmosphere muted. The teams hardly socialised and even the course at Gleneagles had come in for harsh criticism. There was talk of gamesmanship and double dealing but like the actual match, it was quickly forgotten; even more so when the Ryder Cup finally took hold on the public imagination. As for the so-called ‘Gleneagles Curse’ we can only hope it doesn’t return to haunt either team at the 2014 Ryder Cup but that’s the thing about curses: you simply never know. HK GOLFER・SEP 2014
GOLF ATRAVEL Player’s Guide
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Imaginative bunkering is a feature at the revolutionary Nikanti Golf Club in Nakhon Pathom
The soon-to-open Nikanti Golf Club, within easy reach of central Bangkok, has the potential to become one of Thailandâ€™s very best courses, writes Alex Jenkins. Photography by Patrick Lim
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G Strongly contoured greens, protected by run-off areas and, in some cases, water offer a formidable defense at this Piraporn Namatra / Golf East design 72
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uangdong province aside, Bangkok is the most popular destination for Hong Kong golfers. This really comes as no surprise: countless flights serve the Thai capital, reasonably-priced yet quality hotels abound and, above all, there are golf courses galore. W hen one considers t he best golf ing experiences in and around this pulsating city of six million, it is hard to look past the likes of Alpine Golf and Sports Club, Rajpruek Golf Club and Thai Country Club. All three offer the required combination of strong design, excellent service and upscale off-course amenities. The only problem, however, is they’re all private; getting on them without a member’s introduction, is not especially straightforward. Enter the brand-new Nikanti Golf Club. This 18-hole track, situated in Nakorn Pathom to the west of the city, dares to be different. The work of charming Thai architect Piraporn Namatra of the Golf East design firm, Nikanti is the 291st course to open in the Land of Smiles and it surely ranks among the very best. Namatra, or Khun Ope as is he known, isn’t afraid to think outside the box – his
thought-provoking designs at Banyan in Hua Hin and Santiburi, that cliffhanger of a course on Koh Samui pay testament to that – and he has crafted something revolutionary at Nikanti, and in more ways than one. Nikanti, which is scheduled to open to the public in December, is a breath of fresh air and almost the complete antithesis to what has become known as the modern course. For a start it measures less than 7,000 yards from the very back tees – how refreshing! – but it is Khun Ope’s ‘triple-six’ concept that is really unique. Sign of the devil it may be but at Nikanti three sixes equates to fun, for here there are six par-3s, six par-4s and six par-5s. The idea of having an equal number of par3, par-4 and par-5 holes might sound whacky, but it isn’t. Indeed, the philosophy makes perfect sense; this is not a course that has been designed to stage a professional tournament, it has been created for amateur golfers to enjoy themselves, which one could argue has been missing from the design brief of countless courses that have sprung up in recent times. There’s something reassuring about having more than the standard number of par-3 and par-5 holes. Golfers, almost regardless of ability, HKGOLFER.COM
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The par-3 eighth requires a precise long iron; the closing hole, a reachable par-5, offers just the right amount of risk and reward are always looking for holes to score on – and Nikanti’s configuration provides opportunities to do so. But don’t be mistaken. This is not a course which your average player is going to start carding personal bests. The fairways, while wide enough to accommodate drives that haven’t necessarily been struck from the centre of the club, feature plenty of movement; you’re not always going to have a nice flat lie. Many of the greens, meanwhile, are strongly contoured (and at times frighteningly quick) and are impressively defended by attractively sculptured bunkers. Where water has been used it has been used intelligently, particularly on the par-5s. Nor is Nikanti flat. Bangkok courses often get criticized for their lack of elevation change, but that’s not the case here. Furthermore, clubbing is made trickier by an almost constant breeze that sweeps through the property. It could be said that Nikanti rewards good play more than any other course in Thailand. But ignore its strategic demands by trying to bit off more than you can chew and you’ll soon find yourself in trouble. Nikanti distances itself yet further than the norm by its routing. Rather than having traditional front and back nines, here there are three loops of six, each one returning to the stylish and soon-to-be sumptuously appointed clubhouse. The reason? Flexibility. Don’t have 74
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time for a full 18? Just play 12. Want to have another go at the reachable but dangerous par-5 18th? Why not squeeze in that final loop of six? While the club’s owners, headed by managing director “Nick” Warawit Sasomsub, another personable young chap, have yet to determine whether they will introduce a membership structure, the course is open to all. And they’re not looking at cramming people on, either. Tee times will be staggered at 15-minute intervals, which should help with the pace of play. So how much will a round here cost? On the face of things, THB5,500 (approximately HK$1,300) on a weekday and THB7,000 (HK$1,700) on a weekend might sound high but it’s an all-inclusive fee which includes golf, cart, caddie and two meals (breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner). In reality, it’s a small price to pay for what will surely be considered one of the finest clubs in the kingdom. nikantigolf.com HKGOLFER.COM
IN AND AROUND BANGKOK: OTHER TOP TRACKS MUANG KAEW Occupying a splendid location within easy reach of downtown Bangkok, the redesigned Muang Kaew is among the most popular courses in the capital with local golfers. It’s easy to see why. Not only it is quick and easy to get to but it’s also a lot of fun to play. The work of prolific Schmidt-Curley Design, this water-laced track offers plenty of room off the tee but comes into its own around the greens. These are interesting complexes – elevated and protected by run-off areas and deep bunkers it is here, rather than in the aquamarine depths of the lakes that flank many of the fairways where recreational players will lose strokes. Candidate for best hole on the course is the risk/reward 13th, an exciting par-5 featuring a blind drive, but there is a fine variety of holes here
Muang Kaew Golf Club
Muang Kaew has Tiff Eagle greens and Paspalum fairways, which when in perfect condition translate to very quick putts and perfect lies. Off the course the club continues to impress. Although the clubhouse doesn’t seem to have been renovated since it opened in 1992 and there’s no driving range to warm up on, the staff are courteous and the food is universally excellent. All in all, Muang Kaew is a rewarding choice. muangkaewgolf.com
SUWAN Situated close to Nikanti among the rural villages of Nakorn Pathom, about an hour’s drive from the city, Suwan is an at times challenging layout, one that uses its naturally undulating terrain to great effect. Rolling elegantly through palms and ornate lakes and ponds, Suwan is not the work of an internationallyrecognised architect – not that it seems to matter one bit. A Thai Army Major-General, Weerayudth Phetbuasak, is credited with the design here and he has done a fine job of providing a strategic test, one that benefits aesthetically from its country idyll. A host of a handful of professional events, including the 2011 Thailand Open, a OneAsia Tour event, Suwan is routinely found to be in excellent condition. Signature hole honours have been given to the 17th, a mid-length par-4 whose green sits on a lakeside promontory, and while this is understandable it has rivals, especially among the par-3s. The one hole that is difficult to love however is the 14th, another mid-length par-4 but one which confuses due to the extremeness of the angle of the dogleg. Not all will agree with that sentiment but it is fun discussing the matter over a Singha in the clubhouse’s comfortable restaurant that overlooks the ninth green. suwangolf.com
SIAM COUNTRY CLUB, WATERSIDE COURSE Siam Country Club has long drawn visitors thanks to the quality of its Old and Plantation courses, and its new Waterside layout, an IMG creation, is a very welcome addition to this top-drawer complex. Featuring gently sloping terrain, making it very different than the other two hillier courses, the Waterside is another strategic gem, with numerous lakes and creeks framing the holes.
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Suwan Golf and Country Club
The Waterside Course at Siam Country Club Despite this it is a very manageable proposition, one rather friendlier for the higher handicapper, because the landing areas are generous and there is more often than not the opportunity to run shots up on to the putting surfaces. The exception to this is the 17th, a huge par-5 that requires players to take on an approach shot over a deep ravine if the green is to be found in regulation. The 18th, a strong par-4 that plays around a large lake and into the prevailing wind, provides a grandstand finish. Because of its location in Chonburi, a good 90-minute drive from the centre of Bangkok, many will prefer staying in and around Pattaya, which is not only a lot closer but which boasts a slew of other fine courses – including the excellent Jack Nicklausdesigned Laem Chabang International – within easy reach. siamcountryclub.com
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PROPERTY | SPECIAL
A VERY DIFFERENT APPROACH RUPERT SMITH OF COMPLETE RPI EXPLAINS HOW TAKING A COMMERCIAL VIEW TO MANAGING YOUR UK PROPERTY IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO.
elcome to my sixth article discussing the hot topic of residential property investment, letting, management and sale in the United Kingdom. Please take a look at the HK Golfer website to access all back issues. My name is Rupert Smith and I am the founding director of Complete Residential Property Investments Ltd (hereinafter CRPI). We are a specialist property investment company offering a unique and results-orientated commercial approach to UK property investment. Established in April 2001, CRPI is a far cry from your traditional estate agency business. Following on from last month’s article I wish to cover the portfolio management of UK residential property from either a letting or sales perspective. Whether you own one or multiple properties it is vitally important that a commercial approach is applied to the day-to-day management of the asset. We at CRPI treat the property as an asset class and monitor the performance of return on investment closely. Active asset management is vital to performance, whether reducing soft costs such as maintenance or increasing rental levels.
We at CRPI treat the property as an asset class and monitor the performance of return on investment closely. Active asset management is vital to performance, whether reducing soft costs such as maintenance or increasing rental levels. Typically in the UK one (the investor) would appoint an estate agent closest to the property or be guided in the right direction to an agency who may well have an affiliation with the property developer, which forgive me for saying may well have a slight conflict of interest. At CRPI our business model is fundamentally different and we offer much more of a strategic all-of-market approach, and I will explain how this works. As we remain totally independent we have the ability to reach out to the entire market place offering our clients maximum exposure to both the sales and letting market nationwide. Many of our clients own more than one property or wish to acquire further investment opportunities, which will need to be serviced in different locations across the UK. Traditionally, unless the client used a national agency, who would not necessarily be able to service the property or indeed be best to do so, invariably multiple agents would need to be instructed which is of course a
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time-consuming exercise. The reputation of UK agents – how shall we say? – is far from glowing and in fairness this is due to a lack of commercial savviness. This doesn’t apply to all agents, but sadly it does to a large number. At CRPI we are able to consolidate a client’s property portfolio anywhere in the UK with a single point of contact from a letting, management, sales or acquisition perspective. Many clients come to CRPI who do may not wish to acquire future property but merely consolidate their current portfolio under one roof. Our key services are search and acquisition, letting, property management and sale. From a let ting and management perspective there is a misconception that you cannot change managing agents whilst under tenancy, which is simply not the case. CRPI win the business of many clients who are unhappy with their current agent for a multitude of reasons and we seamlessly transfer the management without affecting the current occupant. Any third party letting liability is met by us and more often than not the client benefits from a more cost effective fee structure than before. When any of our clients express an interest in acquiring investment property we create a detailed acquisition strategy with income and expenditure analysis, source funding and identify suitable investment opportunities that best meets their requirements – either capital growth or yield-orientated, or ideally a mixture of the two. We also facilitate the sale of property either as an income generating investment with proven case history of rental, void, etc, or with vacant possession in the open market. With one of the strongest UK rental markets in history why not sell your investment with a tenant in place rather than lose the income up to the day of practical completion? HKGOLFER.COM
We advise many clients to acquire pre-let property rather than “off the shelf” as generally no premium is paid as you would for newbuild, there is no competition of letting on completion, historical vital running costs can be calculated and income is received from the day of ownership.
BESPOKE ONLINE PLATFORM At CRPI we have created a bespoke online platform allowing our clients to access vital information about their property 24/7, such as: • • • • • • • • • • • •
References Tenancy Agreements Income and Expenditure Reports Management Statements Invoices Works Orders Live Capital and Rental value reports Postcode Demographic Information Inventories Interim Inspection reports Internal / External photographs Investment Analysis
Access is gained through a web portal of which our clients are given an encrypted password. Limited access is also available in the accounting section designed for accountants and tax returns, which our clients really like! Feel free to contact us and we can give you a guided tour at completerpi.com
EQUITY INVESTMENT IN UK REAL ESTATE Not only do we acquire individual residential investment opportunity for clients we also raise capital and co-invest with UK residential developers, which has proven to be very lucrative. HKGOLFER.COM
As senior debt has been harder to identify and the “pinny strings” have been tightened we at CRPI have identified the opportunity to co-invest before the bricks have been laid. We work in conjunction with many smaller developers across the UK which have obtained planning permission to develop smaller more boutique residential developments and require an element of equity to complete the scheme. Historically we have raised capital either with one or a number of clients anywhere from £100,000 to £10,000,000, with a return paid on capital invested securitised by the land and a profit share. We have also grouped together investors who wished for exposure in a prime market as a collective which reduces risk capital exposure. In most circumstances investors who injected capital from the outset decided to retain the “end product” which we let and manage and they have had significant capital uplift in. Should this topic be of interest please do not hesitate to contact us and we can discuss previous and current opportunity. Next month I shall be covering the topic of alternative property investment and global exposure. Many thanks for reading.
YOUR PROPERTY, OUR PRIORITY Let Complete RPI overview your UK property free of charge and answer the following questions: - Is your property under-let? We increased our rental income for client's by 7% last year, did your agent? - Have you contracted with the most up to date tenancy agreement? Changes in legislation occur daily. - We only charge monthly fees, are you paying up front? We charge a monthly Letting & Management Fee and no up-front fees, does your agent do the same? - We offer free rental guarantee insurance, does your agent? - Is your property inspected every three months by an independent inventory clerk? If not it should be and we pay the cost. Does your agent? - Do you have 24 hr access to your very own bespoke online property platform which allows you to view all aspects of your property including management statements, invoices, interim inspection reports, values, gearing ratios, etc ... at Complete RPI this is standard. The answers to these questions and many more could both save you money and increase the return on your capital invested. Please call us on +852-9307-0337 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org Why not visit us at www.completerpi.com ... “Your Property, Our Priority."
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©2014 Dr Milton Wayne
RYDER CUP SPECIAL
1 3 5 6 7 9 10 13 16 18 19 20 23 24 27 29 30 31 33 34 35 36 37
1 2 3 4 5 8 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 21 22 25 26 28 29 31 32
(& 30A) He has the most wins for USA (6,6) (&14D) 2014 course designer (4,8) See 3D (&36A) Captain a record six times (6,5) (&18A) The golfer atop the trophy (3,8) See 1D (&5D) Team Europe captain (4,8) Phil, with most matches played for USA (9) (&25D) Source of Mr Ryder’s fortune (6,5) See 7A (&31A) He has most points for USA (5,6) See 4D (&37A) Oldest ever player, aged 51 (7,5) (&17D) Competition founder (6,5) See 26D (&8D) European legend, with 3D held team scoring record of 12 points (4,11) See 1A See 19A See 12D See 29D Scene of USA’s biggest ever comeback (9) See 6A See 23A
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(&9A) Worst record of all time: 0-7-0 (3,7) See 3D (&5A, 2D) Euro captain at Medinah (4,5,8) (&20A) Played in three Cups and won all six matches he played (5,7) See 10A See 29A Number of automatic qualifiers per team (4) (&33A) Team USA captain (3,6) Scene of greatest Euro comeback (7) See 3A See 32D 2014 host venue (pictured) (10) See 24A See 31D See 28D See 16A (&27A) Racked up a record 21 losses (4,5) (&22D) Europe’s wild-eyed hero (3,7) (&34A) Youngest ever player, aged 19 (6,6) (&21D) Best singles record, and a winning captain in Wales (5,11) (&15D) Former Euro captain, holds record for most appearances (4,5) HKGOLFER.COM
WIN A SIGNED LEE WYBRANSKI POSTER! To enter, complete the crossoword and send a scan or photo of the completed grid to Crossword@HKGolfer.com, with “September Crossword” as the subject. Remember to include your name, address and contact number. Entries close on 15 October. ONE LUCKY WINNER WILL BE DRAWN FROM THE CORRECT ENTRIES. Congratulations to Paul Lynch who won the July crossword. JULY ANSWERS Detail of Wybranski’s poster of The Road Hole at St Andrews
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Zac Purton The reigning Hong Kong champion jockey, who carded 112 race wins last season, talks to Alex Jenkins about his love of playing at Fanling, his bestever round and who would be in his dream fourball. When did you start playing, and where? When I was about seven-years-old I used to hack around after my dad when we were living in New Zealand. I can’t remember what course it was but I didn’t really start to play properly until moved to Hong Kong in 2007. How often do you play? I would like to play every day but unfortunately I can’t. I average a game a week during the racing season and usually play at Fanling. [HKPGA pro] James Stewart is a good friend of mine and I play with him a lot. I also play with some of the other jockeys, a couple of trainers and many of the owners. There’s always someone looking for a game.
All I had to do was make par on the 18th to break 80 but I caught my approach shot heavy and sadly watched it splash in the water. It was a heart-breaking moment. What’s been your best ever round? Being an athlete I think I should be better at golf than I really am! My best round was when I shot 81 on the Eden Course at Fanling. All I had to do was make par on the 18th to break 80 but I caught my approach shot heavy and sadly watched it splash in the water. It was a heart-breaking moment.
Do you have a favourite course? I love playing the Eden Course, it’s a nice test without being too hard. I am also a member of New South Wales Golf Club (pictured) in my 82
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home town of Syd ney, a nd a lt hough it frustrates the hell out of me because it’s such a tough course, I somehow rea l ly enjoy playing there. The want to conquer it keeps drawing me back and the guys that play there are such a great bunch it’s always good to have a beer a nd a laugh a f ter the round. Who would be in your dream fourball? T i g e r Wo o d s , b ec au se he ’s t he best I’ve seen. R o r y M c I l r o y, because I love the way he plays – he’s an exciting player. And Amber Heard (pictured), because she’s smoking hot! What do you love most about the game? I love being outdoors and love a challenge. I find golf very relaxing but also love the competitiveness of it: it’s such a hard game to master it keeps pulling me back to want to get better. I always dream of being a pro golfer and then get a nice wake-up call when I shank one off the first tee. HKGOLFER.COM