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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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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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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Golf a unique experience in Hanoi

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Twenty LPGA Tour players join with Song at Q-School final

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song-aree

Aree Song wins Q-School

Aree Song won the LPGA Tour’s Q-School finals on Sunday, shooting a 1-over 73 in wind, rain and cold for a two-stroke victory over 17-year-old Jessica Korda.

The 24-year-old Song, from South Korea, finished at 6-under 354 in the five-round event at LPGA International to earn one of 20 full 2011 tour exemptions.

“Any time you enter a competition and come out on top, you feel pretty good,” said Song, of Seoul, South Korea, who makes her home in Orlando, Fla. “(With this weather), I couldn’t hit it as close as the I did in the last four days, but I still hit it well.”

Korda, the daughter of former tennis star Petr Korda (who served as her caddie this week), closed with a 77. After playing the tournament as an amateur, she said after the round that she was turning pro. Because of the tour’s age restrictions, Korda will need to seek special permission from Commissioner Mike Whan to play next year.

“It was a tough, tough day because it was really windy, and I lost my balance about 20 times,” said Korda, from Bradenton, Fla. “But this is a dream come true.”

South Korea’s Jimin Jeong (71) was third at 3 under.

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