Asian Golf Set To Boom According To Vijay Singh

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Vijay Singh is singing the praises of Asian golf as he prepares for the $6.1-million CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia today.

Singh claims that golf in Asia is “all they talk about” on the US PGA Tour as more and more players tune into the huge potential the region has to offer.

Now 48, the three time major winner and favourite son of Fiji says the explosion in the sports popularity as well as ever increasing financial support provides a huge opportunity for the game.

“It’s been going on for a couple of years now. India, China and Malaysia now. Coming over here, you can see the development,” he said.

“There are so many courses and so many tournaments now (in Asia). When we played here (a few years ago), we were trying to look for tournaments to play in. Nowadays, we can pick and choose what we want to play.

“That’s the big change. Golf in Asia is so much bigger now. You have courses wherever you go. The opportunities are there for the game to grow further.”

The CIMB Classic is co-sanctioned by both the PGA Tour and the Asian Tour and the apparent success it has had in attracting big name players means there should be more like it according to Singh.

“They need more events like this. There are big businesses that support big events like this,” he said.

“We need million-dollar-plus tournaments to make children want to take up golf and make a living out of it. If you get that, you’ll get the players.”

Singh, who is battling to regain the form he showed before years of injury, says he’s not sure that should extend all the way to the creation of  a fifth major though.

“It’s a strange one as you can call any event a Major but there are only four Majors,” he said.

“You can have a major for the Asians in this part of the world and it’ll be a good thing, but I don’t think it’ll be a Major. It’ll be a huge event.”

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Campbell Has Unfinished Business At NZ Open

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The New Zealand Open has secured a major drawcard with hometown hero Michael Campbell to return in pursuit of kiwi golf’s top honour.

Campbell became only the second New Zealand player in history to win a major when he claimed the 2005 US Open title.

New Zealand golfer and US Open champion Michae...

Michael Campbell will return to New Zealand for hometown Open.

The man before him was Sir Bob Charles but he has one accolade Campbell is yet to achieve, multiple NZ Open titles.

Despite winning the New Zealand Open back in 2000 Campbell has had no luck since and hasn’t even contested the past two events.

He says while claiming a major was the ultimate dream he now wants to sure up his standing at home as well.

“Winning your own national Open is very up there with winning a major so winning it two or three times would be even more so,” he said.

“To be put in the same category as Sir Bob Charles is definitely one of those things I’d be striving for.”

Campbell has won eight times on the European tour but by his own admissions has been somewhat wayward throughout recent years.

This season though he appears to be finding a bit of form and has been inspired by the efforts of Thomas Bjorn and Darren Clarke to  get back to his best.

“They are both around my age, around 42, 43-years-old. To see Thomas win three times this year and obviously Big D winning The Open this year was incredible stuff,” he said.

“It is very encouraging to see my mates do so well and I am around the same sort of age so it is definitely encouraging.”

He says he’s putting together a game that can be competitive when the Open kicks off on December 1st.

“Well my stats say it all. I have been hitting a lot of greens and a lot of fairways but my putts haven’t been any good as they have been over the last few years,” he said.

“I am heading in the right direction which is very, very positive. I feel very confident about my game. What I need to do now is put four rounds together so hopefully by the next couple of months I will be doing that.”

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McIlroy shakes off Master’s blues to lead Malaysian Open

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Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy leads Malaysian Open

Masters champion Charl Schwartzel narrowly made the cut Saturday to join joint leaders Rory McIlroy and Alexander Noren in the third round of the Malaysian Open.

Defending champion Noh Seung-yul of South Korea was not as lucky when the second round of the rain-disrupted tournament was completed Saturday. Officials were considering extending the tournament by an extra day because of bad weather.

Schwartzel and Noh were among 77 players who were unable to complete their second round Friday after rain and lightning halted play for nearly three hours.

With the cut set at 1-over 145, Schwartzel survived with a 144 after shooting a second-round 71. Noh was 145.

McIlroy shrugged off his recent final-round collapse at the Masters, sinking eight birdies Friday to lead the tournament with Noren of Sweden at 11-under 133.

The pair are a stroke ahead of England’s Simon Dyson. Stephen Gallacher of Scotland, 17-year-old Italian Matteo Manasserro and Australia’s Brett Rumford are tied for third at 137. World No. 1 Martin Kaymer of Germany is 3-under 141.

Officials from the Asian and European Tours — who co-sanction the tournament — are expected to decide Sunday whether to extend the Malaysian Open to Monday for the first time. In 2006, the tournament at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club was shortened to 54 holes due to heavy rain.

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Sandy Lyle returns to form after win in China

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Sandy Lyle in China

Sandy Lyle in China

It had been a long time. Too long. Nineteen years between victories plays serious tricks on the mind.

But Sandy Lyle endured. What else was he going to do?

The antidote is to just keep trying, keep grinding, keep looking forward.

When the moment finally arrived two weeks ago in China, it was a little unnerving. Like a pounding toothache.

Lyle began the final round of the ISPS Handa Senior World Championship at China’s sprawing Mission Hills complex solidly positioned to end his drought. He had a two-shot lead over Australian Peter Fowler.

“Even the start of the day, it was kind of gut-turning,” Lyle said. “A little bit like waiting at the dentist, not knowing what is before you, painful or easygoing. It was a horrible feeling, that I want to get this over with.”

When it did end, Lyle finally had his first victory since the 1992 Volvo Masters, his 18th European Tour title. This victory came on Europe’s version of the Champions Tour but it made little difference to Lyle when it was, or where, or even how.

“I’ve always said any win, even on a par-3 course, would be well received in my mind since it’s been such a long time … 19 years,” said Lyle, who is winless in 49 starts on the Champions Tour since 2008. “It’s happened at least.”

That it came in golf’s growing hotbed of China with his lifelong adversaries like Ian Woosnam and Sam Torrance in the field made it even sweeter. Lyle shot a bogey-free final round 70 over the World Cup Course at Mission Hills for a 12-under-par 204 total, three better than Fowler.

“You wonder after about four or five years whether you’ll ever win again let alone nearly 20, so this is very special,” said the 53-year-old Scot.

A lot has been made of the fact that two Scots — Martin Laird on the PGA TOUR and Paul Lawrie on the European Tour — made it into the winner’s circle last week on their respective tours. Less has been made of the fact that the first Scot to win in a fortnight was Lyle, the two-time major champion who next week will return to Augusta National Golf Club where he won the Masters in 1988.

Lyle watched “pretty closely” as Laird and Lawrie won their tournaments.

“I was pretty pleased to see Paul win in Spain,” Lyle said. “He had a little drought (nine years) since his last win. Then you’ve got Martin Laird in Orlando. I didn’t see any of the golf, busy at the airport at the time. It was very character building (for Laird). We know the last few holes can be very tough, no matter how good a player you are. He did great.”

Lyle and Laird hook up on Facebook from time to time and they have arranged a pairing for the Par 3 Contest Wednesday at Augusta National, where they will personally congratulate each other on their victories.

Just as Laird got it done down the stretch at Bay Hill, so did Lyle in China. Always a long hitter, Lyle blasted a good tee shot, 330 yards downhill, on the final hole.

“Even then you’re still wondering,” said Lyle, who was nursing a one-shot lead. “A wedge second shot 140 yards. You can still mess up here.”

Those are the doubts that set in when you haven’t won in nearly two decades.

He didn’t mess up.

“I wouldn’t say it was squeaky clean but solid enough that it tells me the game is there when I need it,” Lyle said. “I played the last hole pretty solid. No bogeys, two birdies but only because I wasn’t holing any putts. One bogey in three days on a Nicklaus golf course.”

Lyle, the 1985 British Open champion, started the 2011 season with a runner-up finish in the Handa Australian Senior Open and tied for fifth in the Handa Cup Senior Masters in Japan to take the lead in the European Senior Tour Order of Merit. He knew he was getting close.

“My trophy cabinet has been gathering dust over the years so I feel relieved to get a win and it’s even better that it’s here in China on this course,” he said. “This answers a lot of questions I had about myself.”

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Faldo designing new course in Cambodia

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Nick Faldo

Nick Faldo

Nick Faldo was a frequent visitor to Cambodia during the early part of this decade, and he’s about to become a familiar face once again. The British golf star has been hired to design a 36-hole complex outside the nation’s capital.
The championship-length tracks will serve as drawing cards for Vattanac Golf Resort, which is to take shape on 1,250 acres in the Kien Svay district of eastern Phnom Penh. At build-out, the resort will include houses, at least one hotel, and a variety of sports, recreation and entertainment venues.

The resort is being developed by Vattanac Properties, which is also building a 38-story office tower in Phnom Penh. The building, scheduled to open next year, will serve as the headquarters of Vattanac Bank.

Sam Ang Vattanac, Vattanac Properties’ executive director, has called his partnership with Faldo “a match made in heaven.” Late last year, he told Cambodian reporters that he plans to break ground on the courses “very soon” and expects to open them in 2013.

“We strongly believe in the Faldo design,” Vattanac said. “His projects are always successful and provoke interest from clients.”

No doubt, Vattanac is referring to Faldo’s course at Angkor Golf Resort, which opened in late 2007. The course sits at or near the top of the list of venues to which Cambodian tour operators send foreign golf travelers, particularly those who wish to experience the rich historical treasures of Siem Reap.

At Vattanac, Faldo and design associate Andrew Haggar aim to create two contrasting courses. In a press release, Faldo said he believes the complex will “further raise the standard for golf in Cambodia, attracting more visitors to the country from across the region.”

These days the Windsor, England-based golf celebrity has courses under construction in India (the Lavasa resort in Pune) and Vietnam (Laguna Lang Co in Hue).

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Tseng wins over Michelle Wie in Thailand

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Yani Tseng wins in Thailand

Yani Tseng wins in Thailand

Top-ranked Yani Tseng earned her third tournament win in three weeks Sunday, shooting a 6-under 66 to pull away for a comfortable five-shot victory over Michelle Wie in the Honda LPGA Thailand. The event served as the season opener on the 2011 LPGA Tour calendar.

Tseng led by one stroke over Wie and In-kyung Kim going into the final round and had the lowest score of the day with seven birdies and one bogey to finish at 15-under 273.

2011 HONDA LPGA THAILAND

The Honda LPGA Thailand is the season-opener on the 2011 LPGA Tour calendar.

Wie settled for a 70 to finish second, while Kim had a 71 was another stroke back in a tie for third with Karrie Webb, who shot a 69. Paula Creamer was fifth at 8 under after a 71.

Tseng took over the No. 1 ranking after winning back-to-back Ladies European Tour events, the Women’s Australian Open two weeks ago and then the Australian Ladies Masters last weekend.

“I just tried my best and I know I had lots of confidence,” Tseng said about winning three weeks in a row. “But with all the great golfers out here, you never know until the last putt drops in.”

Kim birdied three of her first six holes to sit tied for the lead with Tseng, and was at 13 under after a birdie on the 13th. However, she made a quintuple bogey on the 17th to fall out of contention before finishing with a birdie to secure a tie for third.

Wie also put pressure on Tseng by chipping in for a birdie on the first hole and picking up two more shots on the sixth and seventh. But she didn’t make another birdie the rest of the way and was four shots behind Tseng when she bogeyed the 17th.

“I feel like I played good out there today, but on the back nine I just didn’t make anything,” Wie said. “Yani played fantastic. She played like a rock star out there. She made every single putt and zero mistakes. Congrats to her.”

Tseng will go for a fourth straight victory next week in Singapore.

“I have lots of confidence and I’m looking forward to next week to see if I can win,” she said. “I feel very excited every week. I just focused on this week. I think to myself, ‘Last week has passed, don’t put pressure on this week.’ Next week is a new week and I’ll enjoy it.”

AUSTRALIA’S SMITH WINS IN NEW ZEALAND: Also Sunday, Australia’s Kristie Smith shot a 4-under 68 to overtake Italy’s Giulia Sergas and win the New Zealand Women’s Open.

Smith finished with a 72-hole total of 12-under-par 276 to claim her first title on the Ladies European Tour. Smith, a former Australian amateur champion, turned professional in 2009 and won her first title last year on the Australian LPGA Tour.

“I am over the moon,” she said. “My goal this year was to win on the LET Tour and it’s nice to do it early. I think I will have to reassess my goals. They had been to finish in the top five on the LET money list and play well in the majors.”

Sergas, penalized a stroke after Saturday’s round for slow play, entered the final round with a four-stroke lead, but the Italian had two bogeys and a triple bogey on her first three holes to finish with a 76.

Sergas shared second place with American Tiffany Joh, a graduate student at UCLA who shot a 70 to move up five places in the final round Sunday.

Defending champion Laura Davies briefly led the standings Sunday before dropping back with a triple bogey on the fourth hole. She finished with a 77 and was eight strokes behind the winner.

Sergas entered the final round with a four-stroke lead, but had two bogeys and a triple bogey on her first three holes Sunday and shot a 76.

Sergas and American Tiffany Joh, a UCLA graduate student, tied for second. Joh posted a 2-under 70 in the final round.

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Europe defends Royal Trophy at Black Mountains Golf Club

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Fredrik Andersson and Europe Team

Fredrik Andersson and Europe Team

Europe dominated Sunday’s singles matches to produce an unlikely comeback over Asia and defend its Royal Trophy title with a 9-7 victory at the Black Mountain Golf Club.

Asia needed 2 1/2 points from the eight closing singles matches to clinch the win but the Europeans held them to just one, winning six of the eight matchups with the other two all square.

The Royal Trophy is a five-year-old Ryder Cup-style event matching eight-man teams from Europe and Asia.

Asia had led 6-2 going into the final day after sweeping the fourball matches Saturday.

Peter Hanson of Sweden gave Europe a good start, fighting back from 2 down to win nine of the next 10 holes, beating Liang Wen-chong, 7 and 6.

“It’s been a good day for me,” Hanson said. “Liang’s early birdies really woke me up to play my best. It was always tough to play the first match. And I needed to win my point get some blue up here early to help the rest of the team.”

Rhys Davies of Wales, Fredrik Andersson Hed of Sweden and European playing captain Colin Montgomerie also picked up wins and the series was tied at 6 1/2 after Henrik Stenson of Sweden birdied the last hole to halve his match against Noh Seung-yul of South Korea.

Italian 17-year-old Matteo Manassero then put Europe in the lead for the first time by beating Shunsuke Sonoda of Japan 1 up, but it still looked like Jeev Milkha Singh of India and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand might rescue the situation for Asia.

Singh was all square with Pablo Martin of Spain after 17 holes, while Thongchai was one up over Johan Edfors of Sweden going to the 18th.

But a superb approach shot from Martin landed only 18 inches from the pin on the 18th green, and after Singh missed his birdie putt, the Spaniard made an easy tap-in to clinch the victory for Europe. Edfors then won the last hole to halve his match with Thongchai.

“With the score we had by Saturday, I … didn’t expect to lose,” Asia Captain Joe Ozaki said. “But I realized the difficulty of match play. It could change very fast.”

Davies was making his debut for Europe and said he can’t wait for another opportunity.

“I love team golf,” he said. “I played quite a bit as an amateur, (but) this is my first experience as a professional and I thoroughly enjoyed it, just really pushing hard for our team.”

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Australians who made a nice dent in the 2010 season

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RobertAllenby

Robert Allenby

Australians have generally fared well on the golfing tours of the world during 2010. Four golfers won events on the PGA Tour, four on the European Tour (with three of those events doubling as Asian Tour events), one on the Japan Golf Tour, three on the Nationwide Tour, one on the Challenge Tour, one on the LPGA Tour, two on the Ladies European Tour and one on the Futures Tour in the USA.

At home Geoff Ogilvy and Peter Senior won the Australian Open and PGA Championships. Those events doubled as events on the fledgling One Asia Tour while Stuart Appleby completed the Australian Triple Crown with victory at the Australian Masters.

Also at home Kristie Smith broke through for her first win when winning an ALPGA Tour event in Canberra and Karrie Webb continued her domination of the ANZ Ladies Masters an event jointly sanctioned between the ALPG and Ladies European Tours.

The year started with Geoff Ogilvy moving to the world number 9 position with his victory at the SBS Championship in Hawaii but soon after Ogilvy’s position inside the top ten was in jeopardy and by the time the Australian Open came along in December the Victorian had slipped to 43rd in the world. His impressive victory at the Lakes however restored some of his status in the game and when, seven days later, he added a runner-up finish at the Australian PGA Championship he had improved to 23rd position in the world.

It was down on where he had started the year but the encouraging finish augurs well for Ogilvy in 2011.

At year’s end he was not the leading world ranked Australian however. That honour goes to Robert Allenby who despite not winning during all of 2010 finishes the year in exactly the same position he started (21st) courtesy of his consistency throughout his PGA Tour season.

Allenby started the season with a runner-up finish at the Sony Open and when he again finished runner-up at the Players Championship in May it appeared as if he was on the verge of one of his best ever seasons in golf. He had moved to 12th in the world but over the next three months however he suffered illness (flu) and an injury from one of his great pastimes.

While fishing on his boat off the southern coast of Florida just prior to the US Open, Allenby incurred a wrist injury that slowed the momentum he had been building and although he did well enough to make it all the way to the Tour Championship, his year did not produce what might possibly have been.

He suffered a similar injury a few weeks later and it would take until late in the season for him to reproduce the type of form he showed early in the year. Allenby however finished as Australia’s leading world ranked male player and provided he can keep himself injury free in 2011 he could well force his way into the top ten by the end of a season for the first time in his golfing year.

Adam Scott won The Texas Open in San Antonio and in November defeated a strong field to win the Singapore Open to catapult him back to 24th in the world and he finishes the season as Australia’s number two ranked player behind Allenby.

Jason Day broke through for his first win on the PGA Tour when he won the Byron Nelson Championship in his now adopted state of Texas. He went on to make play his first major championship at the Open Championship at St Andrews. He made the cut there and just a few weeks later was right in the firing line at the PGA Championship before finishing 10th.

The 22 year old followed up with top ten finishes at the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship where he finished runner-up to Charley Hoffman after leading into the final day. The finish was good enough however for the Queenslander to play the Tour Championship and eventually finish the year in 38th position in the world ranking ensuring a start at Augusta National for the first time in 2011.

With recent surgery for a sinus condition a success, Jason Day now appears on the verge of the career that many were predicting three years ago. There appears to be no limits on just how far this immensely talented golfer can go.

Stuart Appleby may not have finished inside the top 50 in the world but the manner in which he turned around a dreadful run of form in the previous eighteen months is a great credit to him. His final round of 59 to win the Greenbrier Classic in August goes down as one of the great rounds of the year on the PGA Tour. When he broke through for his first win at the Australian Masters he completed a very satisfying comeback from the near wilderness. He was eventually named as the comeback player of the year by his peers on the PGA Tour.

On the European Tour, Andrew Dodt started the ball rolling for the Australians when he won the Avantha Masters in New Delhi and although he played the event as an Asian Tour player, the co sanctioning of the event would mean that Dodt had secured the rights to play in Europe. He had played well in two Nationwide Tour events in New Zealand and Victoria in the weeks prior and yet another Queenslander was making his mark in professional golf.

A few weeks later Marcus Fraser would win the Ballantines event in Korea which not only secured his position in Europe for the immediate future but would lead to him finishing runner-up on the Asian Tour’s money list.

Richard Green has seldom won on the European Tour but in October he secured his third title when he won the Portugal Masters with a whirlwind final round of 65. Green would finish the European Tour season as the leading Australian, earning more than €1.128 million, finishing 21st in the Race to Dubai and his second best ranking in 15 European Tour seasons.

A few weeks later Adam Scott would win the rich Singapore Open for the third occasion and completed one of Australia’s better European Tour season’s in recent years.

In Japan, Brendan Jones won the jointly sanctioned Asia Pacific Panasonic Open and as a result now enjoys status on both the Asian and Japan Golf Tours. Jones finished 7th on the Japan Tour money list earning more than A$1 million during a season marked with consistency. He was the only Australian to finish inside the top 50 in Japan this season and at the end of 2010 finds himself just four spots short of the top 50 in the world.

The Nationwide Tour would see three Australians winning titles but only one, Steve Bowditch, was able to go on and capitalise by securing one of the PGA Tour cards handed out to the leading 25 players on that tour at season’s end. Ewan Porter and Scott Gardiner also recorded victories but failed to finish inside the top 25.

Daniel Gaunt won an event on the European Challenge Tour and as a result now has European Tour status for 2011.

On the Ladies Tours, Katherine Hull finished the year as the leading Australian on the LPGA Tour, her victory at the Navistar Championship in October securing her second LPGA Tour career title and yet another good season for the Queenslander.

Karrie Webb was winless on the LPGA Tour but she began the year with one of the great rounds in women’s golf in 2010 to win the ANZ Ladies Masters for the 7th occasion. Her final round of 61 equalled her previous best ever in tournament golf and continued her remarkable record at Royal Pines. The event was jointly sanctioned between the Ladies European and Australian Ladies Professional Golf and gave Webb a great start as she headed into 2010 but she recorded one of her worst years on the LPGA Tour.

Karen Lunn would also win on the Ladies European Tour, the 44 year old turning back the clock to yesteryear by winning the Portugal Ladies Open and finishing 22nd on the money list there.

As mentioned earlier Kristie Smith won on the ALPG Tour in Canberra and on the Futures Tour in the USA before joining the Ladies European Tour where she put together a solid rookie season including a runner-up finish in Slovakia. She finished 25th on the money list.

To round off the season however it was another who was turning back the clock that perhaps left an indelible mark on all who were present at Hyatt Regency Coolum on 13th December. That morning, 51 year old Peter Senior birdied the 72nd hole of the Australian PGA Championship to force a payoff with Geoff Ogilvy and then beat him at the second extra hole.

The victory came on top of a successful rookie season for Senior on the Champions Tour in the US and left not only Peter Senior feeling good about 2010 but all of those who were present to witness what was an historic moment in Australian golf.

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Australian Masters gets bumped from its 2010 slot

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TigerWoodsinAustralianOpen

Tiger Woods in Australian Open

In a major shake-up of the triple crown calendar, the PGA of Australia announced yesterday that the Open would be held – probably in Sydney – from November 10-13, before the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne from November 17-20.

The Australian PGA will be played at Coolum from November 24-27, while the date for the Masters at Kingston Heath is tentatively set at December 1-4, but is still to be confirmed.

Tiger Woods has said he would prefer the Masters — usually held in the second week in November — was played the week before the Presidents Cup.

But PGA chief executive Max Garske said the schedule was made in the best interests of both Australian golf and the PGA Tour of Australasia.

“There were a number of factors that needed to be carefully considered in finalising the scheduling for 2011 including the timing of a number of international events, the availability of certain venues and the domestic schedule that best serves the Australian golfing public,” Garske said.

“With the focus of the golfing world set to be firmly on Melbourne come mid-November 2011, it is a given that the Presidents Cup will offer up a number of benefits to events falling on either side.

“So with these factors in mind we feel we have made the decision in the best interest of the game.”

Masters owner and promoter IMG declined to comment on the date change, saying it would elaborate on its position and the future of the tournament in the new year.

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Asian Tour member Arjun Atwal graduates to PGA Tour win

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ArjunAtwal

Arjun Atwal

Arjun Atwal’s historic title triumph on the PGA Tour was the high point of an otherwise moderate year for Indian golf during which seasoned campaigner Jeev Milkha Singh’s fortunes took a massive tumble due to nagging injuries.

Atwal, a former Asian Tour number one, scripted history by emerging as the first Indian to win on the US PGA Tour at the Wyndham Championship in August.

It was a resurgence of sorts for the Orlando-based golfer, who had struggled with injuries over the past couple of years and had lost his PGA card going into the tournament.

He was also the first Monday qualifier in 24 years to win a tournament on the PGA Tour. The victory secured Atwal an invitation to next year’s Masters Tournament, making him only the second Indian after Jeev to play in the year’s first Major at Augusta National.

The Wyndham triumph also fetched him a place in the list of nominees for the Asian Tour’s Special Achievement Award but he lost out to Thai legend Boonchu Ruangkit.

The 37-year-old neighbour and practice partner of Tiger Woods thus became the biggest name in Indian golf with one PGA, three European and seven Asian titles to his credit.

It was a fantastic turnaround of fortunes for the golfer, who was hampered by weightlifting injuries to both shoulders for a couple of seasons.

Three years ago, a driver racing with him on an Orlando street died in a crash and although Atwal was cleared of any wrongdoing, the year-long investigation took an emotional toll on the golfer.

But having recovered from the turmoil, Atwal ended the year as the highest-ranked Indian in Asia at 124th, which put him seventh on the regional list.

In contrast, it was a forgettable year for Jeev.

For a major part of the season’s first half, Jeev nursed a rotator cuff injury in his left shoulder and soon after recovering from that, he was laid low by a back problem due to which he experienced the “worst pain” in his career.

Part of the Asian team for next month’s Royal Trophy in Thailand, the Chandigarh-golfer is actually in doubt for the event due to the nagging problem due to which he skipped the Indian Open — the joint richest Asian Tour event held at the Delhi Golf Club.

Such has been the slide for Jeev this year that from being the first Indian to make the top-50 of world rankings, he is down to 168th and has been forced to cut down on the number of tournaments he played to avoid burnout.

“I generally play 36 tournaments but next year I would play around 30. So I will cut down around a month from my usual schedule,” the injury-ravaged golfer said.

Jeev has a minor medical exemption on the PGA Tour for 2011. After just two top-25 finishes in 19 events Jeev has been given a Minor Medical Extension in 2011.

The golfer — who has six Asian, four Japan and three European Tour titles — under his belt finished 164th on the PGA Tour Money List and has four events next season to earn USD 366,732 and get elevated to the Major Medical category.

Similar was the story of Jyoti Randhawa. The Delhi-pro missed several cuts on the European Tour leading to a loss of card and came a cropper at the Indian Open, where he went in as a three-time champion.

Towards the end of the season, a neck injury only added to his woes.

The other regular campaigners such as Shiv Kapur and SSP Chowrasia also struggled on the circuit and as a result of the Indians’ combined poor form, the Indian Open did not have an Indian winner.

Defending champion C Muniyappa struggled with a bad back and the rest of the top stars also failed to make good of the conditions as Swede rookie Rikard Karlberg lifted the trophy even though a little-known Manav Jaini did come close to winning the USD 1.25 million event.

The tournament itself is in doubt for next year due to a scheduling dispute and the Asian Tour has not given it a slot in its provisional calendar.

But there was reason to cheer as well when 19-year-old Rashid Khan led India to a silver medal in the Asian Games team event.

The lanky Delhi teen turned professional a month later at the Indian Open, made the cut and even managed to break par in the final round, holding out promise for a bright future.

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