February 2018 | Asian Tour

ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open – Round 1 Tee Times


 

AT THE MILLBROOK COURSE

AT THE HILLS COURSE


Mexico City, February 27: Despite banking close to US$700,000 following two victories since December, India’s Shubhankar Sharma has kept his feet firmly grounded, even if it meant flying halfway around the world on economy class for his maiden World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship this week.

The 21-year-old Indian enters the US$10 million showpiece as the No. 1 ranked golfer on both the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity standings but he is happy to fly under the radar as the game’s elite gathers at Golf Club de Chapultepec.

A year ago, Sharma was waking up in the middle of the night to watch the WGC-Mexico Championship, won by Dustin Johnson, but victories at the Joburg Open and Maybank Championship, both sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours, have propelled him into the limelight.

“It’s really exciting to be here. This is the biggest event I’ve ever played in. I’m looking forward to it,” said Sharma, who will play the opening two rounds with Malaysia’s Gavin Green and American Chan Kim.

The son of an Indian army colonel, Sharma has burst onto the scene in quite some style. He won in South Africa with a 23-under winning total which included a 61 in the second round in December and then followed up with a second title in Malaysia after a closing 62 gave him a 21-under winning total.

“I could not have imagined this happening (three months ago). I wouldn’t have imagined myself playing on the European Tour, let alone a WGC event. That’s how the game is. When you play good, anything is possible. You need those small breaks and I got those breaks in Johannesburg and Malaysia. That shows you anything is possible. You just have to keep working hard,” said Sharma.

With full playing status in Europe and Asia, Sharma said he is learning to adapt to being in the company of the game’s marquee names and conceded he was star-struck when he teed up in Abu Dhabi and Dubai earlier this year.

“I’m getting used to it. Seeing Rory (McIlroy), Dustin (Johnson), all these guys in the Middle East, I was a bit star-struck. I’ve got to step it up and play my own game. It’s great to be playing in these events with all these great players. Up to last year, I was watching these players on TV and now playing here this week is a dream come true.”

Despite the new-found fame and heightened media interests, Sharma insisted he was still the same person. And while he has added a few more zeroes into his bank account, he flew into Mexico City from Doha, Qatar on economy class.

“Personally, nothing has changed. I’m the same person. I’m probably getting a bit more attention, getting more interviews. I think it’s great as long as it raises more awareness on golf in India. I’m still trying to be the same person, still trying to be the best that I can be,” said Sharma.

“I probably should fly business class … Maybe the flight back to India, I’ll try to fly business. I flew from Qatar to Dallas and then into Mexico. It was nice. Economy isn’t that bad. You get an aisle seat and it’s perfect,” he insisted.

Ranked 75th in the world, Sharma, who is now the highest ranked Indian in the world, knows a strong week in Mexico could open more doors into the big tournaments on the PGA TOUR. The top-64 will qualify for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play next month while the top-50 will get into the Masters Tournament in April and May’s THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

“There’s a lot at stake but at the same time, I don’t want to put pressure on myself. I’ve worked really hard to get to this level and I just want to have fun. To be honest, I know that if I play my best, it is good enough for a win or a top five or top-10. It’s about going out there and shooting some good numbers. Come Sunday, I’ll be happy if have played to my potential. I know that if I can play my best, I’ll be right up there.”

About the World Golf Championships – Mexico Championships

The World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship is regulated and organized by the operational committee of the International Federation of PGA Tours and due to its great importance it annually attracts the top golfers from across the globe including those from the Asian Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA TOUR, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour. The other World Golf Championships include Dell Technologies Match Play (Austin, Texas, U.S.), Bridgestone Invitational (Akron, Ohio, U.S.) and HSBC Champions (Shanghai, China).

Dustin Johnson of the U.S. will be the defending champion when the Mexico Championship returns with a total purse of USD$10 million to Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City for its second year and as the second of four World Golf Championships of the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season on February 28 – March 4, 2018.

For more information visit www.wgcmexico.com, as well as the tournament’s social media accounts @WGCMexico (in English with international scope) and @TVAztecaGolf (in Spanish with international and Latin American scopes).


Mexico City, February 27: Malaysia’s Gavin Green hopes his “A” game will show up when he makes his debut at the US$10 million World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship which begins on Thursday.

The reigning Asian Tour No. 1 will carry the region’s charge in the year’s first WGC tournament at Club Golf de Chapultepec which will feature 45 of the world’s top-50 players led by world No. 1 and title holder Dustin Johnson and FedExCup No. 1 Justin Thomas.

The 24-year-old Malaysian spent several days sharpening his game with swing coach Chris O’Connell in Dallas last week and will count on experienced caddie Mark Crane to give him an edge in Mexico.

“My result was a little bit on the low side and I wasn’t comfortable with my swing. Thankfully, I had a week off, saw my coach and I’m way more comfortable now which is great. I like feeling like this going into an event,” said Green, who became the first Malaysian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit last season. 

“He (O’Connell) sorted me out where I have more of a one-way miss now and not a two-way miss, so that’s huge for me. Being on a course like this, obviously it’s a huge thing because left and right, you have trouble. We’ve straightened things out.”

After finishing tied 38th in his first WGC tournament at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China last October, Green is eager to make progress in his blossoming career. His success in Asia has given him playing rights on the European Tour this year but his goal will be to get onto the PGA TOUR in the near future.

A graduate from University of New Mexico, Green knows he must remain patient in everything that he is doing, including tackling this week’s tree-lined test with precision from off the tee. “I think patience is one thing but I also think experience plays another part. If you’re constantly playing the bigger events, all of a sudden you go to a European Tour event, you feel very much more comfortable. When I was with the Asian Tour, I was like, man, this is a big event. Then I got used to it, and all of a sudden a couple of top fives came, and I calmed down,” said Green.

As much as he is keen to make an impression this week, Green knows he must take it one shot at a time and stick  to his game plan. “It’s important that I don’t overdo things just because of the event. I kind of had a little feel about it in China (WGC-HSBC Champions) and obviously in the CJ CUP (in South Korea), they were big events, but you can’t overdo things. I think I’m taking a different approach where I’m just going to go nine, nine, nine, take it easy, do some work on the range, chip and putt,” he said.

His caddie Crane, who has worked with Ryder Cup players Paul Casey and Chris Wood, will be very much counted upon by Green to give him the right yardages at a venue which is some 7,000 feet above sea level, which means the golf ball will travel further here.

“He’s seen how good things can happen and how bad things can happen here. So he knows what are the risks and he knows a little bit about my game and where I should hit it and all that kind of stuff, and what suits me,” he said.

“It’s important for me to listen and trust him because sometimes I look at some holes, I’m like, I think it’s driver, but he says no, it’s a 5 wood or a 2 iron.  It’s tough for me to just do that because I’m so tempted to just hit driver. I guess it’s part of experience and just trusting,” said Green.

About the World Golf Championships – Mexico Championships

The World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship is regulated and organized by the operational committee of the International Federation of PGA Tours and due to its great importance it annually attracts the top golfers from across the globe including those from the Asian Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA TOUR, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour. The other World Golf Championships include Dell Technologies Match Play (Austin, Texas, U.S.), Bridgestone Invitational (Akron, Ohio, U.S.) and HSBC Champions (Shanghai, China).

Dustin Johnson of the U.S. will be the defending champion when the Mexico Championship returns with a total purse of USD$10 million to Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City for its second year and as the second of four World Golf Championships of the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season on February 28 – March 4, 2018.

For more information visit www.wgcmexico.com, as well as the tournament’s social media accounts @WGCMexico (in English with international scope) and @TVAztecaGolf (in Spanish with international and Latin American scopes).


Queenstown, New Zealand, February 28: Korea’s K.J. Choi returns to New Zealand for the first time in 23 years, ready to show how far he has come when he steps up to the tee at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open which starts on Thursday.

Choi first visited New Zealand as an aspiring 24-year-old professional attending a golf winter training camp in the country then. Almost two decades later, the 47-year-old, who once reached a career high of fifth place on the Official World Golf Ranking in 2008, is arguably one of highest profile players to compete at Millbrook Resort & the Hills this week.

The Korean acknowledged the expectations of the fans and is looking forward to putting up a performance befitting of his reputation as one of the most successful golfers to come out of Asia.

Defending champion Michael Hendry also makes his return to familiar winning ground having made history by becoming the first New Zealander in 14 years to win his National open last year.

While he only has one top-10 finish to show for this year, Hendry believes he will have the form to contend at the highest level when the tournament tees off tomorrow.

Thailand’s Pannakorn Uthaipas, who topped the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit in 2017, is excited with his first start at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open after a fantastic ADT season on the Tour’s secondary circuit which has presented him with numerous playing opportunities this year.

Did you know?

  • K.J. Choi grew up in a farming family on the island of Wando, off the southern coast of Korea and was a powerlifter at his local high school.
  • In his early golfing years, Choi would take a two-hour bus ride at 5am each morning to the golf course where he would practise until dark and then return home.
  • Choi’s first professional win came two years after he turned professional when he won the Korean Open in 1996.
  • Choi became the first Korean to earn a PGA Tour card in 2000 and went on to record eight wins there including the Players Championship in 2011.
  • He credits Jack Nicklaus for playing an influential role in his career. He said reading Nickaus’ book, "Golf My Way" book early in his golf career assisted him in becoming the golfer he is today.
  • He founded the K.J. Choi Foundation in 2007 with the mission of helping Korean children and communities, but his reach has extended to global aid for hurricane and tsunami victims today.
  • Michael Hendry became the first New Zealander in 14 years to win their National Open title last year.
  • He also enjoyed seven top-10s in Japan and finished 17th on the Japan Tour Order of Merit in 2017.
  • Pannakorn had a year to remember in 2017 where he notched one victory and four top-10s to clinch the ADT Order of Merit.
  • In doing so, he became the second Thai after Pavit Tangkamolprasert in 2014, to win the accolade. 

Players’ Quotes:

K.J. Choi (Kor)

This is my first time playing the New Zealand Open and it has been absolutely wonderful since the first day. The people could not have been more amazing and hospitable to me. I’m sure there will be lots of fans out there and I’m really looking forward to meeting them. I first came here in 1995 for winter training and I remembered playing on several tree-lined courses. The trees were very thick and it was pretty difficult to avoid those trees. But I told myself if I train really hard here and do well, I can go far in my game when I get back on Tour. I had first turned professional at that time and I really pushed myself very hard. Those memories have continued to stay with me even until today. I wanted to get my career started at that time and whenever I look at the local golfers here now, they remind me of how far I’ve come. While a lot has changed, my work ethics continue to remain the same.

Michael Hendry (Nzl)

My form hasn’t been great but I feel I have played better than my results. I have been working particularly hard and was happy with how I played today. Confidence levels and expectations are always changing but it takes a certain amount of pressure off. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone that I can win it because I’ve done it. That said I would love anything in the world to win it again and I have done pretty well defending golf tournaments. It’s amazing even when you haven’t been playing your best what good memories and confident thoughts can do when you come to venues you have played well at before. If you know deep down that you are good enough on your day that counts for a huge amount.

Pannakorn Uthaipas (Tha)

I think my mental game is stronger now. I told myself to keep things simple and not overthink on the course. Playing on the ADT has given me a lot of experiences and I was able to hone my skills. It’s very exciting and this place is simply beautiful. I’ve been practising a lot before I came here as I’m the ADT Order of Merit champion and I’ve to show that. Hopefully, I can play well this week and have something to show for.

Ends.


Gurugram, India, February 27: Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, Thomas Bjorn, will become the first-ever current Ryder Cup captain to make an appearance when he tees off at the Hero Indian Open next week.

Bjorn, winner of 21 titles worldwide, and runner-up three times at Major tournaments, will be among the international star cast from over 30 countries at the US$1.75 million event.

The field includes six players from the World’s Top-100 who are all set to battle it out on the Gary Player layout of the DLF Golf and Country Club from March 8 to 11. The field includes a plethora of Order of Merit winners, past champions, Ryder Cup captains and a Major champion.

Interestingly, Bjorn will not be the only Ryder Cup captain in the field, as Darren Clarke, the 2011 Open champion, has also confirmed his presence.

Clarke led the European Ryder Cup team in 2016, while Bjorn will be at the helm for the 2018 Ryder Cup in France this year.

Meanwhile, as the 54th edition of the Hero Indian Open comes closer, many of the top players have shown excellent form in the run-up to the event.

One of the biggest draws in the event, Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, a teammate of India’s own Anirban Lahiri at the 2017 Presidents Cup, is coming fresh of a Top-10 finish last week on the PGA Tour. Both Grillo, a past winner on the PGA Tour, and Lahiri are flying in straight from the PGA National in Florida where they played last week.

Grillo, who was in the top-20 of three of the four Majors in 2016, is looking very strong once again in 2018. In the current wrap-around season, he already has two Top-10s on the PGA Tour, besides another tied-12th in Mexico.

Anirban Lahiri of India

India’s Lahiri is also coming off two top-10s in CIMB Classic and CJ Bridges Cup in addition to a tied-14th finish at Mayakoba, Mexico.

Even as the international players hold the spotlight, there will be considerable interest in India’s latest star, Shubhankar Sharma, who also features in his maiden World Golf Championships in Mexico this week. Shubhankar won two Asian Tour titles in the last four months, at the Joburg Open and the Maybank Championship.

The men in form on the European Tour, Joost Luiten, winner of the NBO Oman Open, and Chris Wood, who was second at the Oman event and tied-13th in Qatar Masters, alongside England’s ever-smiling and hugely popular, Andrew Johnston, tied-12th in Oman, are all looking forward to the event. Luiten was also tied-12th in Malaysia, where Shubhankar emerged champion.

 “I have heard so much about India and Indian golf that I can’t wait to get there,” said Andrew Johnston.

The Englishman, who has also had a stint on the PGA Tour, added: “I simply love Indian food and Shiv Kapur has promised to take me out for an Indian meal and I am looking forward to that. As for golf, Indians like S.S.P. (Chawrasia) and Shubhankar (Sharma) are doing so well, so it will be great to play in India.”

 Also looking forward to India is Chris Wood, whose six-foot-six-inch height will make for a great visual contrast as he stands alongside the reigning two-time Hero Indian Open winner diminutive S.S.P. Chawrasia. The two have played together often on European Tour and were also pitted against each other in the singles at the 2016 EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.

S.S.P. Chawrasia of India

On the Indian side, the virtual who’s who of Indian golf will be present and that includes the two players who have accounted for the last three Hero Indian Open titles – Anirban Lahiri in 2015 and Chawrasia in 2016 and 2017. Also present is Siddikur Rahman winner in 2013.

All the five Indian winners on 2017 Asian and European Tours, Shiv Kapur (three titles in 2017), Chawrasia, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Ajeetesh Sandhu and Shubhankar are present in the field.

The field also includes the last three winners of the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings – Gavin Green (2017), Scott Hend (2016) and Lahiri (2015).

Ends.


Queenstown, New Zealand, February 28: Korea’s K.J. Choi returns to New Zealand for the first time in 23 years, ready to show how far he has come when he steps up to the tee at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open which starts on Thursday. 

Choi first visited New Zealand as an aspiring 24-year-old professional attending a golf winter training camp in the country then. Almost two decades later, the 47-year-old, who once reached a career high of fifth place on the Official World Golf Ranking in 2008, is arguably one of highest profile players to compete at Millbrook Resort & the Hills this week.

The Korean acknowledged the expectations of the fans and is looking forward to putting up a performance befitting of his reputation as one of the most successful golfers to come out of Asia.

Defending champion Michael Hendry also makes his return to familiar winning ground having made history by becoming the first New Zealander in 14 years to win his National open last year.

While he only has one top-10 finish to show for this year, Hendry believes he will have the form to contend at the highest level when the tournament tees off tomorrow.

Thailand’s Pannakorn Uthaipas, who topped the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit in 2017, is excited with his first start at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open after a fantastic ADT season on the Tour’s secondary circuit which has presented him with numerous playing opportunities this year.

Did you know?

  • K.J. Choi grew up in a farming family on the island of Wando, off the southern coast of Korea and was a powerlifter at his local high school.
  • In his early golfing years, Choi would take a two-hour bus ride at 5am each morning to the golf course where he would practise until dark and then return home.
  • Choi’s first professional win came two years after he turned professional when he won the Korean Open in 1996.
  • Choi became the first Korean to earn a PGA Tour card in 2000 and went on to record eight wins there including the Players Championship in 2011.
  • He credits Jack Nicklaus for playing an influential role in his career. He said reading Nickaus’ book, "Golf My Way" book early in his golf career assisted him in becoming the golfer he is today.
  • He founded the K.J. Choi Foundation in 2007 with the mission of helping Korean children and communities, but his reach has extended to global aid for hurricane and tsunami victims today.
  • Michael Hendry became the first New Zealander in 14 years to win their National Open title last year.
  • He also enjoyed seven top-10s in Japan and finished 17th on the Japan Tour Order of Merit in 2017.
  • Pannakorn had a year to remember in 2017 where he notched one victory and four top-10s to clinch the ADT Order of Merit.
  • In doing so, he became the second Thai after Pavit Tangkamolprasert in 2014, to win the accolade. 

Players’ Quotes:

K.J. Choi (Kor)

This is my first time playing the New Zealand Open and it has been absolutely wonderful since the first day. The people could not have been more amazing and hospitable to me. I’m sure there will be lots of fans out there and I’m really looking forward to meeting them. I first came here in 1995 for winter training and I remembered playing on several tree-lined courses. The trees were very thick and it was pretty difficult to avoid those trees. But I told myself if I train really hard here and do well, I can go far in my game when I get back on Tour. I had first turned professional at that time and I really pushed myself very hard. Those memories have continued to stay with me even until today. I wanted to get my career started at that time and whenever I look at the local golfers here now, they remind me of how far I’ve come. While a lot has changed, my work ethics continue to remain the same.

Michael Hendry (Nzl)

My form hasn’t been great but I feel I have played better than my results. I have been working particularly hard and was happy with how I played today. Confidence levels and expectations are always changing but it takes a certain amount of pressure off. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone that I can win it because I’ve done it. That said I would love anything in the world to win it again and I have done pretty well defending golf tournaments. It’s amazing even when you haven’t been playing your best what good memories and confident thoughts can do when you come to venues you have played well at before. If you know deep down that you are good enough on your day that counts for a huge amount.

Pannakorn Uthaipas (Tha)

I think my mental game is stronger now. I told myself to keep things simple and not overthink on the course. Playing on the ADT has given me a lot of experiences and I was able to hone my skills. It’s very exciting and this place is simply beautiful. I’ve been practising a lot before I came here as I’m the ADT Order of Merit champion and I’ve to show that. Hopefully, I can play well this week and have something to show for.

About Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), Habitat for Humanity (Official Sustainable Development Partner), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), Titleist and FootJoy (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

Please visit us at:

www.asiantour.com

www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf

www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf

www.youtube.com/theasiantour

www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf

 


Queenstown, New Zealand, February 28: Korea’s K.J. Choi returns to New Zealand for the first time in 23 years, ready to show how far he has come when he steps up to the tee at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open which starts on Thursday. 

Choi first visited New Zealand as an aspiring 24-year-old professional attending a golf winter training camp in the country then. Almost two decades later, the 47-year-old, who once reached a career high of fifth place on the Official World Golf Ranking in 2008, is arguably one of highest profile players to compete at Millbrook Resort & the Hills this week.

The Korean acknowledged the expectations of the fans and is looking forward to putting up a performance befitting of his reputation as one of the most successful golfers to come out of Asia.

Defending champion Michael Hendry also makes his return to familiar winning ground having made history by becoming the first New Zealander in 14 years to win his National open last year.

While he only has one top-10 finish to show for this year, Hendry believes he will have the form to contend at the highest level when the tournament tees off tomorrow.

Thailand’s Pannakorn Uthaipas, who topped the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit in 2017, is excited with his first start at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open after a fantastic ADT season on the Tour’s secondary circuit which has presented him with numerous playing opportunities this year.

Did you know?

  • K.J. Choi grew up in a farming family on the island of Wando, off the southern coast of Korea and was a powerlifter at his local high school.
  • In his early golfing years, Choi would take a two-hour bus ride at 5am each morning to the golf course where he would practise until dark and then return home.
  • Choi’s first professional win came two years after he turned professional when he won the Korean Open in 1996.
  • Choi became the first Korean to earn a PGA Tour card in 2000 and went on to record eight wins there including the Players Championship in 2011.
  • He credits Jack Nicklaus for playing an influential role in his career. He said reading Nickaus’ book, "Golf My Way" book early in his golf career assisted him in becoming the golfer he is today.
  • He founded the K.J. Choi Foundation in 2007 with the mission of helping Korean children and communities, but his reach has extended to global aid for hurricane and tsunami victims today.
  • Michael Hendry became the first New Zealander in 14 years to win their National Open title last year.
  • He also enjoyed seven top-10s in Japan and finished 17th on the Japan Tour Order of Merit in 2017.
  • Pannakorn had a year to remember in 2017 where he notched one victory and four top-10s to clinch the ADT Order of Merit.
  • In doing so, he became the second Thai after Pavit Tangkamolprasert in 2014, to win the accolade. 

Players’ Quotes:

K.J. Choi (Kor)

This is my first time playing the New Zealand Open and it has been absolutely wonderful since the first day. The people could not have been more amazing and hospitable to me. I’m sure there will be lots of fans out there and I’m really looking forward to meeting them. I first came here in 1995 for winter training and I remembered playing on several tree-lined courses. The trees were very thick and it was pretty difficult to avoid those trees. But I told myself if I train really hard here and do well, I can go far in my game when I get back on Tour. I had first turned professional at that time and I really pushed myself very hard. Those memories have continued to stay with me even until today. I wanted to get my career started at that time and whenever I look at the local golfers here now, they remind me of how far I’ve come. While a lot has changed, my work ethics continue to remain the same.

Michael Hendry (Nzl)

My form hasn’t been great but I feel I have played better than my results. I have been working particularly hard and was happy with how I played today. Confidence levels and expectations are always changing but it takes a certain amount of pressure off. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone that I can win it because I’ve done it. That said I would love anything in the world to win it again and I have done pretty well defending golf tournaments. It’s amazing even when you haven’t been playing your best what good memories and confident thoughts can do when you come to venues you have played well at before. If you know deep down that you are good enough on your day that counts for a huge amount.

Pannakorn Uthaipas (Tha)

I think my mental game is stronger now. I told myself to keep things simple and not overthink on the course. Playing on the ADT has given me a lot of experiences and I was able to hone my skills. It’s very exciting and this place is simply beautiful. I’ve been practising a lot before I came here as I’m the ADT Order of Merit champion and I’ve to show that. Hopefully, I can play well this week and have something to show for.

About Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), Habitat for Humanity (Official Sustainable Development Partner), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), Titleist and FootJoy (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

Please visit us at:

www.asiantour.com

www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf

www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf

www.youtube.com/theasiantour

www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf

 


Mexico City, February 26: A casual observer likely would not have realized the history made solely from the moment alone. A stoic Dustin Johnson, with a short tap-in and a quiet fist pump. It appeared, on the surface, like any other win under his belt.

 

But when Johnson raised the venerable Gene Sarazen Cup in 2017—its classic, yet intricate blue-and-gold design glistening under the Mexico City sun—he etched his name in the history books. With his victory in the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, he became just the fifth player in the storied history of the game to win his first tournament as the world’s No. 1-ranked player.

 

Johnson is back this week to defend his crown at Club de Golf Chapultepec. With a diverse field from across the globe set to challenge him, will history repeat itself or give way to a new victor?

“Obviously it’s a big tournament,” he said of last year’s event. “Most of the best players in the world are here.”

 

It could be an Asian who stakes his claim to that big tournament. With seven players from five different Asian countries in the field, the group is primed to appear at the top of the Sunday leaderboards.

 

One player who won’t have a shot at the title, however, is Hideki Matsuyama. Despite being slated to participate in the weeks leading up to the event, Matsuyama will no longer play, likely as a result of the nagging wrist injury that has plagued him since he withdrew midway through the Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February.

 

“The pain in my left-thumb area started on 13th hole yesterday,” he said at the time. “I did some treatment last night, but the pain was still there this morning when I practiced. I decided that it was not worth forcing myself to continue to play and worsen the injury, so I was disappointed that I had to withdraw. As much as I wanted to continue to play and with the three-peat in mind, the pain was just too much."

 

With the absence of Matsuyama—ranked No. 5 in the world—Asia will be without a PGA TOUR player in the Mexico Championship field. But others are ready to shine in his place.

Asian Tour Order of Merit champions Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Thailand) and Gavin Green (Malaysia), as well as young talents Li Haotong (China), Shubhankar Sharma (India) and Japan’s Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira and Yusaku Miyazato will all be on hand to take their shot at the championship. With a roster like that, the scales could tip in favor of the Asian entrants in Mexico City.

 

Li brings the most PGA TOUR experience to Mexico, having competed on the PGA TOUR Series-China in 2014 before moving on to the Web.com Tour. He’s made the cut in all three PGA TOUR events he’s played this season, including at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions last October. In his most recent appearance at the Genesis Open in February, he aced the par-3 sixth hole with a 6-iron from 189 yards, en route to a T53 finish.

Sharma also enters riding a bit of momentum, as the 21-year-old captured the Maybank Championship in February while also winning the Sunshine Tour’s Joburg Open in December 2017.

 

“Probably one of the biggest differences between the Asian players and the American [and] European players up until now has been actually the physical difference,” Matsuyama said earlier this year. “But of late, a lot of the Asian players are training better, getting stronger physically, also in stature.

 

“Hopefully I can continue to train hard and to narrow that gap between the European and American players, and all of Asia,” he added. “I hope the other Asian players are working hard, too.”

 

An Asian golfer has never won the Mexico Championship. Matsuyama looked like a contender to change that, as he responsible for Asia’s only two victories in the World Golf Championships, winning the Bridgestone Invitational in 2017 and the HSBC Champions in 2016. It will be up to players like Li and Sharma to change that now.

 

In all, 65 players from 19 different countries will navigate the narrow, tree-lined Club de Golf Chapultepec as they vie for the first World Golf Championships tournament of the calendar year, including 38 from outside the United States. England claimed the first World Golf Championships event of the season in a stunner, when Justin Rose rallied Sunday from eight shots back of Johnson to win the HSBC Champions last October in Shanghai.

 

At 2,225 meters above sea level, players in the Mexico Championship are already standing high before play even begins. Time will tell if it will be one of Asia’s best standing higher than the rest at the end.

 

About the World Golf Championships – Mexico Championships

The World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship is regulated and organized by the operational committee of the International Federation of PGA Tours and due to its great importance it annually attracts the top golfers from across the globe including those from the Asian Tour, European Tour, Japan Golf Tour, PGA TOUR, PGA Tour of Australasia and Sunshine Tour. The other World Golf Championships include Dell Technologies Match Play (Austin, Texas, U.S.), Bridgestone Invitational (Akron, Ohio, U.S.) and HSBC Champions (Shanghai, China).

 

Dustin Johnson of the U.S. will be the defending champion when the Mexico Championship returns with a total purse of USD$10 million to Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City for its second year and as the second of four World Golf Championships of the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season on February 28 – March 4, 2018.

 

For more information visit www.wgcmexico.com, as well as the tournament’s social media accounts @WGCMexico (in English with international scope) and @TVAztecaGolf (in Spanish with international and Latin American scopes).

 

About Grupo Salinas

Grupo Salinas (www.gruposalinas.com) is a group of dynamic, fast growing, and technologically advanced companies focused on creating: economic value through market innovation and goods and services that improve standards of living; social value, to create social capabilities to improve the communities’ conditions; and environmental value, by reducing the negative impact related to its business activities. Created by Mexican entrepreneur Ricardo B. Salinas (www.ricardosalinas.com), Grupo Salinas operates as a management development and decision forum for the top leaders of member companies. These companies include: TV Azteca (www.TVazteca.com; www.irtvazteca.com) Azteca America (us.azteca.com), Grupo Elektra (www.grupoelektra.com.mx), Banco Azteca (www.bancoazteca.com.mx), AdvanceAmerica (www.advanceamerica.net), Afore Azteca (www.aforeazteca.com.mx), Seguros Azteca (www.segurosazteca.com.mx), Punto Casa de Bolsa (www.puntocasadebolsa.mx), Totalplay (www.totalplay.com.mx) and Enlace TP (www.enlacetp.mx). TV Azteca and Grupo Elektra trade shares on the Mexican Stock Market and are part of its Sustainability Index. Each of the Grupo Salinas companies operates independently, with its own management, board of directors and shareholders. Grupo Salinas has no equity holdings. The group of companies shares a common vision, values and strategies for achieving rapid growth, superior results and world-class performance.

 

About PGA TOUR

The PGA TOUR is the leading global platform in professional golf, showcasing the highest expression of excellence, both on and off the course. The PGA TOUR’s mission is to entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back, generate significant charitable and economic impact in the communities in which it plays, grow and protect the game of golf and provide financial opportunities for TOUR players.

 

 The PGA TOUR co-sanctions more than 130 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, Web.com Tour, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR-China. Members on the PGA TOUR represent the world’s best players, hailing from 25 countries (84 members are from outside the United States). Worldwide, PGA TOUR tournaments are broadcast to more than 1 billion households in 226 countries and territories in 23 languages. Virtually all tournaments are organized as non-profit organizations in order to maximize charitable giving. In 2017, tournaments across all Tours generated a record of more than $180 million for local and national charitable organizations, bringing the all-time total to $2.65 billion.

 

The PGA TOUR’s web site is PGATOUR.COM, the No. 1 site in golf, and the organization is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

 


Queenstown, New Zealand, February 27: Korea’s Y.E. Yang, who once defied all odds to become the first Asian male golfer to win a Major in 2009, is looking to resurrect his career with a strong performance at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open which starts on Thursday.

Yang, an Asian Tour honorary member, has not reached the dizzy heights of 2009 where he defeat former world number one Tiger Woods to lift the PGA Championship.

The 46-year-old enjoyed a career high of 19th place on the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) in 2010 but has not returned to the winner’s circle since that year where he won twice in China and Korea.

Yang missed the weekend cut in his maiden appearance at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open last year and is hoping for a better showing at one of New Zealand’s leading sporting events this week.

Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat is eager to notch his second Asian Tour win following his breakthrough in Indonesia last year. The stocky Thai, nicknamed ‘Coconut’ by his parents, believes he has the game to contend at the highest level, having started his early 2018 season with two top-25 finishes in Singapore and Malaysia.

American Berry Henson is also optimistic of his chances at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open, having shown his impressive comeback from injury with three top-10s in four starts on the Asian Tour this year.

Henson, who took on a part-time job as an Uber driver during his rehabilitation period, will be seeking his first win since 2011 when he lifted his maiden title in the Philippines. 

Did you know?

  • Yang remains the only male Asian to have won a Major when he overcame a two-shot deficit going into the final round of the PGA Championship to eventually finish three shots ahead of Tiger Woods, his playing partner.
  • Ranked as high as 19th on the OWGR in 2010, Yang will be starting the week in 803rd place on the world rankings.
  • Yang’s best result in 2017 was a tied-sixth finish at the Volvo China Open- an event which the Asian Tour will be returning as one of the sanctioning partners next month.
  • Panuphol turned professional in 2007, at a young age of 14. He started plying his trade on the Asian Tour in 2009 and has not missed out on his playing rights since 2011.
  • He has never finished outside the top-60 on the Habitat for Humanity Standings for the last seven year and ended his 2017 Asian Tour season in 20th place on standings.
  • He also won his first Asian Tour title at the Indonesia Open last year.
  • Berry Henson returned to competitive golf last December after being sidelined by a wrist injury for 18 months.
  • Henson made his comeback by finishing strongly with a string of impressive results in Singapore (T8), Myanmar (Fourth) and Malaysia (10).
  • The American made about 1,500 Uber trips during his rehabilitation period for charity and to also earn some side income.

Players’ Quotes:

Y.E. Yang (Kor)

This will be my second time competing at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open and I’m looking forward to doing well. Queenstown is a very beautiful place and this is a very good golf course especially when the sun’s out. I’ve been playing mostly in Japan last year and have been playing in a couple of events on the PGA Tour too. But I’m focusing more on Japan now and playing on a couple of the Asian Tour too. It has been a long time since I won that Major at the PGA Championship and it really brings back beautiful memories for me. This is golf and hopefully, I can enjoy another good victory again.

Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha)

I’ve known New Zealand to be a very beautiful country and that’s what brings me here. It’s a long way to New Delhi after this week but I’m not complaining. We travel round the world as professional golfers and being here now just makes you feel so happy. My game has been great since my win in Indonesia last year. I feel very confident each time I tee up for a tournament and this week is no different. I’m very happy the Asian Tour is back in New Zealand as a full co-sanctioning partner as it gives us players more opportunities to travel round the world and play golf, which is something I always enjoy. I’ve played on similar golf courses like this before and hopefully they will provide me with the experience to do well this week.

Berry Henson (Usa)

I made 1,500 Uber rides in the year as I needed to kill some time because all I was doing was going to the gym and rehab. I had to keep my mind occupied. But I did enjoy driving Uber for charity and it also paid for my car rental expenses. There were so many moments when I didn’t think I could play golf again. I was looking at other options. I thought I had to do something else. It was depressing but I needed time for my body to heal. It was hard for me to stay patient. It took a long time and I slowly kept recovering and healing. Once I started seeing the pain decrease and that’s when the excitement started to come back in.

I got this second opportunity and I really want to take advantage of it. I’m super appreciative that the Asian Tour gave me my medical category. I’ve heard so many good things about this event. I’m excited and I love pro-am formats. I have a host family next week and they are really excited to have me. I’m staying with Jarin Todd as well. They’ve made it really comfortable for us.

Ends.

About Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), Habitat for Humanity (Official Sustainable Development Partner), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), Titleist and FootJoy (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

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Beijing, February 26: The 24th Volvo China Open, which will be held at the prestigious Beijing Topwin Golf and Country Club for the third consecutive year this April, will now be tri-sanctioned between the China Golf Association, the European Tour and the Asian Tour, after an agreement was reached with the tournament’s stakeholders. 

The storied event will offer a lucrative prize purse of RMB 20 million (approximately US$3.15 million) when it gets underway from April 26 to 29, 2018.

The Beijing Topwin Golf and Country Club, which opened in 2011 as an exclusive private members’ club, now ties the record set by Beijing International Golf Club for hosting the Volvo China Open on the most occasions in the Northern China area.

Zhang Xiaoning, President of the China Golf Association said that he was very pleased to see Topwin chosen to once again host China’s National Open.

“The previous two editions of the Volvo China Open ended in dramatic fashion so the Topwin course is clearly a challenge for all of the players, and only the best player on the day will win,” said Mr. Zhang.

“Li Haotong realized a dream by winning his first European Tour title at Topwin and he has gone on to prove that he is capable of winning more events on the European Tour.

“Everyone in China was proud of him when he won in 2016, and he then went on to represent the nation at the Rio Olympic Games with Wu Ashun, who also won the Volvo China Open in Shanghai in 2015.

Bowen Xiao of China, an Asian Tour winner

Photo caption: Bowen Xiao of China won his first Asian Tour title last year

Shi Lin, President of Beijing Topwin Group said that the staff and the members of the prestigious club are both proud and excited to know that their beloved golf course will once again host the National Open.

“It is indeed an honour for us to be in the position of hosting China’s most prestigious golf tournament for the third straight year,” said Mr. Shi. “We all know how challenging our golf course really is and it’s good for TV viewers around the world to be able to see for themselves that courses in China are just good as courses in other countries that have a much longer history of the game.”

Champions of the two previous events held at Topwin – Li Haotong and Alex Levy, also broke records thanks to their victories, with Li becoming the youngest winner of the event in 2016 and Levy becoming the first player to win the event twice (2014 and 2017). 

Victory at the 2016 Volvo China Open at Topwin earned Li a two-year exemption to the European Tour, which saw the talented 22-year-old gain a wealth of experience by competing with Europe’s best players.

Last month, Li won his second European Tour title by overcoming the former World Number One and four-time Major winner, Rory McIlroy, in the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic, earning his place in Chinese golfing history by becoming the first male player from the world’s most populous nation to enter top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking.

“This year’s event precedes the May 1st public holiday and is expected to see large numbers of spectators attracted to witness the stars of the European and Asian Tours, and also the rising local talent of Chinese golf,” said Mr. Shi.

The 24th staging of the Volvo China Open will be the Swedish brand’s 137th title sponsorship in men’s professional golf and the company’s 87th on the European Tour.

This year will see the 15th staging since the tournament became a European Tour event in 2004. It is also Volvo’s longest-running current golf sponsorship.

“We are very proud of our relationships with the Asian Tour and the China Golf Association so we are delighted to extend the tri-sanctioning of the Volvo China Open,” said Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour.

“This tournament is a really important one for the European Tour and we are determined to continue building our profile in China, especially after Li Haotong – a former winner of this event of course – became the first Chinese male golfer to break into the top 50 in the world.”

“The Asian Tour is delighted to join the Volvo China Open as a sanctioning partner alongside the CGA, with whom we formed a strategic partnership with in 2017, and the European Tour, with whom we’ve had a strategic alliance since 2016,” commented Josh Burack, CEO of the Asian Tour.

“We greatly appreciate them including us in this outstanding tournament.  We’d also like to thank title sponsors, Volvo, for their terrific support to involve the Asian Tour and our talented players in their flagship golf property,” added Burack.

Sven De Smet, Chairman of Volvo China Open Board commented that this year’s event is expected to be even more popular with increased galleries than in previous years.

“With the Volvo China Open now on Asian Tour schedule it will definitely bring the event to a higher level and will yield higher world ranking points,” said Mr. De Smet.

“Volvo was one of the earliest sponsors of both the European Tour and the Asian Tour. Our long-term investment in professional golf has created a model of mutual benefit in the history of sports sponsorship.”

Ends.

About Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), Habitat for Humanity (Official Sustainable Development Partner), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), Titleist and FootJoy (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

Please visit us at:

www.asiantour.com

www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf

www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf

www.youtube.com/theasiantour

www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf

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