A Mouth-Wa­ter­ing Month of Golf

Oc­to­ber will high­light a truly mo­men­tous month for pro­fes­sional golf in Asia with the stag­ing of three mega PGA TOUR tour­na­ments in Malaysia, South Korea and China of­fer­ing a su­per cool US$26 mil­lion in to­tal prize money, writes Chuah Choo Chi­ang.

HK Golfer - - Con­tents - By Chuah Choo Chi­ang

Oc­to­ber will high­light a truly mo­men­tous month for pro­fes­sional golf in Asia with the stag­ing of three mega PGA TOUR tour­na­ments.

In­ter­na­tional su­per­stars led by world No. 1 Dustin John­son, third-ranked Hideki Mat­suyama, world No. 4 Justin Thomas and Ma­jor cham­pi­ons Jason Day and Adam Scott are amongst the big names headed full speed to the Far East, long re­garded as the next bas­tion of growth for the game. The US$7 mil­lion CIMB Clas­sic at TPC Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, where Thomas will bid to be­come the first player since Steve Stricker in 2011 to se­cure a three-peat of wins, will get Asia’s fes­ti­val of golf rock­ing and rolling when the only PGA TOUR tour­na­ment in South­east Asia re­turns for its eighth edi­tion from Oc­to­ber 12-15.

The TOUR then breaks new ground with its first of­fi­cial FedExCup tour­na­ment in South Korea when the US$9.25 mil­lion CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES makes its debut. CJ Corporation, one of the na­tion’s largest con­glom­er­ates with a global vi­sion, signed a 10-year deal to host what will be one the world’s most lu­cra­tive golf tour­na­ments.

Day, Scott and Thomas, who has en­joyed a stand­out 2016-17 cam­paign with five wins in­clud­ing a first Ma­jor tri­umph, will head­line the CJ tour­na­ment which will also fea­ture Korea’s new­est star Si Woo Kim, win­ner of THE PLAY­ERS Cham­pi­onship in May.

The three-tour­na­ment ex­trav­a­ganza con­cludes with Asia’s lone and prized World Golf Cham­pi­onships show­piece, the US$9.75 mil­lion WGC-HSBC Cham­pi­ons at She­shan In­ter­na­tional Golf Club in Shang­hai where Ja­pan’s ris­ing son Mat­suyama will de­fend his ti­tle against a stel­lar field which in­cludes topranked John­son, win­ner of the tour­na­ment in 2013.

Against a back­drop of global stars head­lin­ing the ex­cit­ing stretch of events which form the early 2017-18 PGA TOUR

Fall sched­ule, the Asian Tour’s lead­ing golfers such as S.S.P. Chawra­sia, Scott Hend and young ta­lent Phachara Khong­wat­mai, will have ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to shine un­der the in­ter­na­tional spot­light.

The CIMB Clas­sic, sanc­tioned with the Asian Tour, will in­clude the lead­ing ten play­ers from the re­gion’s Or­der of Merit in ad­di­tion to two Malaysians, while the CJ CUP could see up to twenty Korean or Korean de­scent golfers go­ing head-to­head with the game’s top stars as it lives up to the tour­na­ment’s tagline of “Bridge to Re­al­iza­tion”. A vic­tory at Jeju is­land will lead to a cov­eted PGA TOUR card and a world of earn­ing and play­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Sim­i­larly, lead­ing play­ers from Asia and China will also be ex­empt into the WGCHSBC Cham­pi­ons where a golfer like Li Hao­tong, fa­mous for his third-place fin­ish at the Bri­tish Open in July, can pro­pel his ca­reer to Amer­ica with a home vic­tory.

There will be no doubt­ing that Thomas will start as a firm favourite to sparkle in Asia, es­pe­cially af­ter a spec­tac­u­lar sea­son. A re­turn to Malaysia will pro­vide happy me­mories as his first PGA TOUR ti­tle was recorded in the 2015 CIMB Clas­sic. In eight rounds at TPC KL, he has ac­cu­mu­lated 59 birdies, two ea­gles and stands at a stag­ger­ing 49-un­der­par.

PGA TOUR com­mis­sioner Jay Mon­a­han, dur­ing the launch of the CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, hopes that the new­est tour­na­ment on the sched­ule will pos­i­tively shape the land­scape of the game in South Korea and be­yond.

“This an­nounce­ment is a his­toric land­mark for the PGA TOUR as we add an­other tour­na­ment in Asia. We had such a phenom­e­nal ex­pe­ri­ence in Korea at The Pres­i­dents Cup (in 2015), and we hoped an of­fi­cial, per­ma­nent event in this great coun­try would be the re­sult of that suc­cess,” said Mon­a­han. “We have a tremen­dous pop­u­la­tion of Korean golfers on the PGA TOUR, and we an­tic­i­pate that will con­tinue as THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES in­spires a new gen­er­a­tion of play­ers, not only in Korea but also around the world.”

Since mak­ing its debut in 2005, the HSBC Cham­pi­ons has cel­e­brated a myr­iad of in­ter­na­tional win­ners in a tour­na­ment many have la­belled as “Asia’s Ma­jor”. Giles Mor­gan, HSBC Global Head of Spon­sor­ship and Events, must take credit for be­ing a driv­ing force be­hind the tour­na­ment’s growth into a WGC tour­na­ment.

“WGC-HSBC Cham­pi­ons is our flag­ship event in global golf. Qual­ity of field is the calling card for this tour­na­ment which has earned the rep­u­ta­tion of ‘Asia’s Ma­jor’, and for the past three years, we have at­tracted 40 of the world’s top 50 golfers. Fol­low­ing re­cent hero­ics, China’s lead­ing play­ers are truly com­ing of age at just the right time. This event means so much to them. It is their ma­jor. It first in­spired them into the game then nur­tured their skills. Now it gives this new gen­er­a­tion a chance to un­leash their tal­ents against the world’s best. All in front their home fans. It’s a mouth-wa­ter­ing prospect.”

In­deed, it’s go­ing to be a mouth-wa­ter­ing month of golf in Asia. Chuah Choo Chi­ang is Senior Di­rec­tor, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions of the PGA TOUR and is based at TPC Kuala Lumpur.

The US$9.25 mil­lion CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES will also fea­ture Korea’s new­est star Si Woo Kim, win­ner of THE PLAY­ERS Cham­pi­onship in May

Can Li Hao­tong pro­pel his ca­reer to Amer­ica with a home vic­tory at the WGC-HSBC Cham­pi­ons?

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