March 2020 | Asian Tour

Home Sweet Home


Sentosa, Singapore, March 26: It’s a Sunday afternoon and usually a day where the chase for sporting glory on the golf course is often foremost on their minds.

But with a virus that has little care about the movement on the leaderboard and has forced the lockdown of countries, closed borders and grounded planes, those Sunday aspirations and golf clubs have to be put away for a while.

The COVID-19 is virtually changing many aspects of everyone’s lives. But amid these unprecedented times, a beacon of joy has shone through very brightly.

Those lonely yearn for family and home comforts whenever they are away is gone and is liberating.

Away from the media glare, greeting the public and handling the pressures on the golf course, players like Gunn Charoenkul have finally found the time for peace and bonding with the people that matters most to him.

“While I hope to go back to the golf course really soon, I’m also enjoying my off season now and the time spent with my family is priceless,” said Gunn, who welcomed the arrival of his baby daughter, Vera in February and is relishing his new role as a full-time father now.

That bonding is infectious as India’s Anirban Lahiri, the 2014 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion is also enjoying his time away from the golf course.

He said: “I’m staying fit by working out, keeping myself updated with the news as well as playing some computer games. Above all, I’m enjoying my time with wife and my daughter, who is absolutely amazing to play with.”

Even as the virus has upend the golfing world with their careers coming to a standstill for now, the benefits of being homebound can be far-reaching too.

For Rahil Gangjee, who staged one of his career’s greatest comeback by winning the Panasonic Open Golf Championship in 2018, it could even mean unearthing a future golfing star too.

“I spent the last couple of days playing golf with my friend’s 10-year-old son who is showing a lot of promise. So who knows? Those two intense sessions of four hours with him each day may just unveil a star in the making.

“I also decided to stay in Kolkata with Mom. So, she has company and I also have company (and great food)! If I sit and do nothing I will put on weight, so I train and work out also. But of course, I also watch a lot of Netflix,” said Gangjee.

The coronavirus pandemic has left many with time on their hands with tournaments being postponed and golf courses closed now.

But as they combat a faceless enemy, it is the comforts of home that ultimately provide that sanctuary and safe haven for seasoned globetrotters like Shubhankar Sharma.

“As a professional golfer, one does not get much time with the family, but right now this is a good opportunity to spend time at home with them and catching up with a good read,” said the 2018 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion.

Ends.


By V.Krishnaswamy, @Swinging_Swamy

New Delhi, March 25: Indian golf legend, Jeev Milkha Singh has seen some tough days in his golfing career.

A series of runner-up finishes, loss of form, injury and so on. Yet, he has always stayed positive. He has always managed to find something to get by the tough days.

It is the same right now as the whole country is being advised to stay indoors in the times of COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is like a test, this time not just for me or golfers, but the whole country and mankind. We need to be disciplined, stay indoors and keep safe. That will help everyone stay safe,” said Jeev while elaborating on the risks of the virus.

“The doctors say this virus spreads from person to person, so we need to practice Social Distancing and stay indoors. I am taking this (staying indoors) also in my stride. This is not in our control,” said Jeev.  “Maybe this is a time to bond with my family, parents (Olympic legend Milkha Singh and Nirmal Milkha Singh) and kids. It also gives me quality time with my parents.”

He is however not allowing the break to halt his fitness routines. “I am doing Yoga, some swing drills, etc but all indoors.”

Jeev and his wife, Kudrat, have a couple of dogs, too. “They are amazing. They just love the fact that I am at home and all of us around with them.”

His son, Harjai, is also being made to participate in scrabble games. Jeev laughs and adds, “The dogs, too, want to play. So they often get on top of the scrabble box and seem to ask if they can join in. It is great fun inside the house, even though things are grim outside.”

Jeev, who has been decorated with the Padma Shri and the Arjuna Award, would love nothing more than going to an Olympic Games, which has now been postponed for a year.

He said: “My father did so well (came fourth in 400m) in 1960, and I wish I could go too, but my current form does not give me a chance. But hopefully if I can find my form soon – though the game seems fine on the range – who knows what can happen.”

He added: “The tough times have even led to postponement of Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, my favourite country, where I spent about six to seven years playing on Japan Tour.”

Back in 2006, Jeev was in a situation, where he had not won on any international Tour since 1999. Then he ended the drought at the Volvo China Open and went on to win four times, including twice on Japan Tour.

He ended the year as Asian Tour number one and that saw him become the first Indian to tee up at the Augusta National Golf Club for the 2007 Masters.

Two years later in 2008, he did the same again – won four times including twice in Japan. And again he won the Asian Tour Order of Merit and is the only Indian to claim that honours twice.

“If there is one thing I learnt from my Dad, it was to never give up. That stays with me. And yes, in golf, one can play for as long as you wish. My Dad, now in his 80s, still plays regularly and is fit as a fiddle,” added Singh proudly.

Finally, he said form his home in Chandigarh: “My goal is to get to the Champions Tour.” That will be when  he turns 50 and that will happen in about 18 months. “I need to stay fit, physically and mentally. There is still lots of golf to come.”

Ends.


Sentosa, Singapore, March 20: The coming months will be awkward as the daily rituals of all players have been thrown into a disarray with the global COVID-19 outbreak disrupting the normalcy of life.

While golf fans are left reeling from the unexpected dearth of action from the fairways, players are also making lifestyle adjustments as their sporting world grinds to an abrupt halt.

When it used to be a day out, navigating the tapestry of the golf course, battling the elements and fellow rivals, it is now turning out to be a fight against a deadly virus which is curtailing their golfing ambitions.

As many now embrace the sobering reality that it will be a while before they step back to the tee, golf, as with life, still has to go on albeit some adjustments.

With the Philippines in lockdown, Miguel Tabeuna, is keeping himself sharp while entertaining himself with playful golf trickeries in the comforts of his home.

“Life still goes on and it can actually be fun recreating my golfing experience in the comforts of my home,” said Tabuena, a two-time Asian Tour winner.

For Australia’s Scott Hend, the 10-time Asian Tour winner prefers to stay ahead of the game by keeping himself in tip-top shape when the season eventually resumes.

“It’s going to be a jammed packed end of year if we get to play so I plan to hit the gym and try to gain and put on some muscle. It’s better be fit and strong ready to go,” said Hend, one of the most well-travelled golfers from Australia.

HONG KONG- The Hong Kong Open at the Fanling Golf Club, Fanling, Hong Kong, the Asian Tour USD$ 1 million season opener event, January 9-12, 2020. Picture by Paul Lakatos / Asian Tour.

As true professionals, golfers are tuned to believe in hopeful outcomes.

And when this all blows over, Hend knows he is ready to take on the very best players from the world again.

“I know the guys on the PGA TOUR aren’t that much better than me. It’s just a matter of getting the breaks and taking advantage of those when they come around. There can only be so many guys on that Tour at one time. So sometimes, you just need to have some patience,” said Hend, the first ever Australian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2016.

From hitting the gym to recreating their own golf sanctuary at home, American Berry Henson, who won the 2011 Philippines Open, is attempting to create his own live talk show over social media so as to combat the tedium of spending his days stuck at home and ‘keeping the positive vibes going’.

“It’s something new which I’m trying to create. We’re going through some tough times at the moment and I just hope the golfing community can come together and share our knowledge, experience and basically enjoying each other company online. When you put everyone together in the same place, trying to overcome the problem together, the world will be a better place,” said Henson.


By V Krishnaswamy, @Swinging_Swamy

New Delhi, March 20: Rashid Khan, India’s top world-ranked player nurses hopes of teeing up at the Olympic Games later this year, but is realistic enough to feel that there is nothing he can do currently except to wait for Covid-19 to subside.

He laughs and says, “I am busy with PS4, fitness through martial arts (I follow Billy Blanks on YouTube) and then there is my nephew, who is just 15 months. This takes up a good part of my day.”

Sure he does miss going out to play at the course or competing at events, but admits, “That is not in our hands. Golf is not like other games, but the key is to stay strong mentally and to stay fit. That’s what I am doing. Anyway I have not been the kind to practice on the course each and every day.”

The lanky Indian is also keeping in mind the Olympics. “No one is sure about the situation, but I am keeping myself mentally ready for the Olympics and the events in the run up,” said Rashid

On how he is keeping fit, he added, “Billy Blanks is good. What he does is called, Tae Bo and it is a total martial art technique and helps total body fitness with martial arts. He has thousands of followers from all over.”

As for staying strong mentally, he adds, “There is nothing more relaxing than playing with my 15-month old and he is delight. I love that time. When I am on Tour, I have no time for these things, so might as well make the most of it now.”

Khan, whose last event was the Bandar Malaysia Open, where he finished tied-31st, has played three events in 2020 on Asian Tour and has two top-10s – sixth in Hong Kong and tied-eighth in Singapore Open, both having been held in January.

“I feel the Asian Tour was absolutely right in cancelling or postponing many events and the Tour has been giving us the information on that,” he said, “The safety and health of the players cannot be compromised and we need to be aware of the current situation.”

Ends.


Dear Fans of the Asian Tour,

As all of you are aware by now, most International sporting events scheduled for March, April and May have either been cancelled or postponed.

Nevertheless, the situation remains fluid and evolves every day and it is not possible at this time to predict when we will be able to resume conducting our events safely.

The Asian Tour and Asian Development Tour (ADT) seasons are on hold in an indefinite recess due to the inability to travel to and onward from host countries and restrictions from local governments on gatherings including sporting events.

We will only resume staging tournaments when it is deemed safe to do so in the most appropriate manner to ensure the security and safety of the golfing community, tournament stakeholders, players, officials, the hosting country, volunteers and fans.

With the disruption to the tournaments on our schedule, we will look into the possibility of extending the 2020 season into the calendar year 2021.

However, this cannot be determined until we have a clearer picture of the full extent of disruptions to our schedule of events. We will play events in 2020 if the situation permits but when that will be is still undetermined.

I hope all of you are safe and taking the necessary measures during this time of global concern.

Stay safe and keep well.

Regards,

Cho Minn Thant
Commissioner & CEO
Asian Tour


Sentosa, Singapore, March 18: The COVID-19 virus pandemic may have left a void and starved many of their golfing action on the fairways. But while waiting for the season and normalcy to resume, we look back at some of the best quotes heard so far this season.

“Scott (Vincent) and I grew up together and I have heard a lot of good things from him about the Asian Tour. I have been trying to get on the Asian Tour for three times now. It’s my third time so I hope to be third time lucky!” Zimbabwean Benjamin Follett-smith finally got what he wished as he secured his Tour card in his third attempt by topping the class at Qualifying School.

HONG KONG- The Hong Kong Open at the Fanling Golf Club, Fanling, Hong Kong, the Asian Tour USD$ 1 million season opener event, January 9-12, 2020. Picture by Paul Lakatos / Asian Tour.

“There are three things which we don’t want to be doing on the golf course, panic, don’t panic and don’t panic.” – World number 16 Tony Finau on his mantra to his rise on the world stage ahead of the Hong Kong Open where he finished in fifth place.

“I’m awfully proud of being able to bounce back from adversity and being able to not let hard things get the best of me.” – American Matt Kuchar on his mental fortitude as he overcame a calamitous triple-bogey on the seventh hole by charging back with three birdies in his back-nine to win the SMBC Singapore Open.

“I’ve never been to a golf tournament where I’m always taking out my phone to take pictures. But I’m doing it all the time here.” – Joohyung Kim in awe of the majestic views the New Zealand Open had to offer.

“It’s just amazing where I am right now.” – Trevor Simsby on his breakthrough after winning the Bandar Malaysia Open which made its return to the Asian Tour schedule after a four-year hiatus.

Ends.


Gurgaon, India, March 11: The Hero Indian Open, scheduled to take place from March 19-22 at DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram, New Delhi, has been postponed due to the ongoing threat posed by the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The decision was made following consultation between the Indian Golf Union , the tournament’s co-sanctioning partners – the Asian Tour and the European Tour – and the tournament title sponsor Hero MotoCorp Ltd, after the latest public health travel advisories announced by the Indian government.

All parties are looking into the possibility of rescheduling the tournament at some point later in the year, but there are no definitive plans at this stage.

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour said: “In these difficult global circumstances, we fully understand and appreciate the recent restrictions introduced in respect of travel into India. As these new measures now prevent many members of both Tours being able to play in the tournament, everyone involved in the staging of the Hero Indian Open felt it was the correct decision to postpone the tournament.

“I would like to thank Dr Pawan Munjal and everyone at Hero MotoCorp in addition to the Indian Golf Union for their continued support, and we look forward to returning to India in due course.”

Cho Minn Thant, Asian Tour Commissioner and CEO, said: “With these new travel regulations now in place, there has been a significant impact on the ability of our members, officials and service teams of both Tours to make their entry into India for the tournament.

“We will continue to take advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and local health authorities while monitoring the situation in relation to the possibility of rescheduling the event later in the year.”

Ends.


Kurmitola Golf Club

Dhaka, Bangladesh, March 9: The Bangabandhu Cup Golf Open 2020 will be postponed to a later date due to the ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

The US$400,000 full field Asian Tour event was poised to become the richest professional golf event in Bangladesh and was initially scheduled to be staged at the Kurmitola Golf Club in Dhaka from March 25-28.

Cho Minn Thant, Commissioner and CEO, Asian Tour said: “Several new cases of COVID-19 have recently been discovered in Dhaka and travel restrictions are being imposed on incoming and outgoing travellers for the immediate future to prevent further spread of the virus.

“In view of this global outbreak, a request has been made by the Bangladesh Golf Federation (BGF) to postpone the event and we have also decided that it is in the best interest of all the players, staff and officials to postpone the event.

“The Asian Tour will continue to work closely with the BGF to identify a new date for the event once it is deemed safe to travel.”

Ends.


Shah Alam, Selangor, March 8: American Trevor Simsby picked up his first Asian Tour title after sinking a four-foot birdie putt to emerge triumphant on the second play-off hole against Andrew Dodt of Australia at the weather shortened Bandar Malaysia Open on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Simsby, who earned his 2020 Asian Tour card after capping a commendable season on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) last year, opted for an aggressive style of play in his three trips down the 18th hole which clearly paid off for him at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club.

He went for the green on the par-five, 565-yard hole but found himself in the right rough in regulation play. He then hit his third shot to the green and two-putted for par to sign for a closing two-under-par 70 and a 13-under-par 203 total.

Simsby, who played in the second last group, endured an agonising wait in the clubhouse before countryman Jarin Todd and Australian Andrew Dodt matched his efforts by carding rounds of 70 and 72 respectively in the prestigious US$1 million event.

The trio returned to the 18th hole for the sudden-death playoff which saw Todd bowing out after missing a 15-foot birdie putt while Dodt, who led the first two rounds, made his from eight feet and Simsby nailing his from three feet after hitting his lob-wedge from a tough angle.

Simsby and Dodt returned to the 18th tee for the second play-off hole and Simsby found the fairway again after opting to tee off with his driver instead of his three-wood which he used on the first extra hole. His aggressive play proved rewarding as his second shot landed just short of the green.

Dodt hit his tee shot to the left rough and had to lay up with an iron to the middle of the fairway before hitting his approach to 15 feet, leaving himself a tough putt for birdie. Simsby, on the other hand, chipped up to four feet and eventually won after Dodt missed his putt.

Simsby, a graduate from the University of Washington where he played alongside PGA TOUR champion C.T. Pan of Chinese Taipei, was thrilled to claim his career biggest win yet in only his 12th start on the Asian Tour and first this season at the Malaysian showpiece.

The lanky American, who hails from Carlsbad, California, is playing in only his second year in Asia. He came through the 2019 Qualifying School and plied his trade on both the Asian Tour and the ADT last season.

He finished 84th on the 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit to miss out on his playing rights for 2020 but a seventh-place finish on the ADT Merit rankings last season saw him regain his Asian Tour card for 2020.

Simsby will take home a winner’s prize purse of US$180,000 courtesy of his win and move to second place on the latest Order of Merit, where Australian Wade Ormsby extended his lead following a top-10 finish at the National Open of Malaysia.

Charlie Wi, former winner of the Malaysian Open in 2006, posted a 69 to share fourth place with Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino (69) and Kosuke Hamamoto (68) of Thailand on matching 204s while young guns Amir Nazrin and Shahriffuddin Ariffin emerged as the best Malaysian performers after registering identical 70s to tie in 38th place.

The Bandar Malaysia Open, which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation, was reduced to 54 holes by officials on Saturday following several weather delays which saw more than 10 hours of play lost throughout the week.

The highly acclaimed Bandar Malaysia Open, which boasts a new tagline ‘Pride, Passion, Prominence’, is the flagship event for the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA). It returns to the Asian Tour schedule this week after a four-year hiatus.

Ends.


Trevor Simsby (USA) – Final round 70 (-2), Total 203 (-13)

This is the biggest win I have had in my career so far. It’s just amazing where I am right now. We were just hoping to get a full round of golf in today, and just knowing that this is going to be the final round, we were just giving it our all.

The course is playing a bit harder today. You have to be really patient out there. It’s been a challenging week. I’m just ecstatic to win this. Walking off the 15th green, my caddie told me that we’re still in it. He was saying it all day but I didn’t really think so until I birdied 16th.

I thought we definitely have a chance. And then I made a really good par on 17. I played aggressively on the 18th hole today. For me, I think that hole sets up better with driver just playing it up the right now.

I like just the mindset that it gives me of getting down there where I have a chance to get to the green. That was the right foot I guess, it just happened to suit my eye. I was chipping the ball amazing all week. I had two chip-ins in the second round which were huge, and it’s just amazing how it all came together nicely today.

I missed the cut in the last event on the ADT last year and just barely snuck into the top-eight on the Order of Merit. I got really motivated when I got back home to California and I met up some friends who are succeeding on the PGA TOUR as well. I just worked very hard after that and I’m just excited for the rest of the season now. I hope to keep the momentum going.

I shouldn’t have hit driver in regulation probably but you know the mind was spinning a little bit and I knew I was tied for the lead and trying to play a smart role and permit drivers to play for sure when opportunity sets.

I was just excited to even have a chance on the back nine. I made a little mistake on the par-five and I thought I was a bit out of it but I just stayed in it mentally, and somehow managed to birdie 16th.

I turned professional at the end of 2014 and I played on the KornFerry Tour in 2015. I’ve done a little bit everything. I’ve played a little bit in Canada and South America as well. I worked at a golf course for a little while too.

I’ve done a lot in the last five years of playing professional golf and I think the experiences have made me a different person and player now, in a good way. I think it was good for me just to kind of get away from home a little bit as well and kind of be on my own.

It’s just been an incredible year last year and a half, just kind of learning how to manage the travel and I couldn’t really pay for the experience and it’s just, just being here and going through it.

I would say my preparation and practice was really good, leading up to it and I was very motivated going into the week. I will remember this week for the rest of my life. It’s incredible. I met C.T. Pan, my colleage teammate, at Torrey Pines about a month ago. He’s obviously doing fantastic.

I played against Justin Thomas and Patrick Rodgers. A lot of guys that are having success so it’s definitely motivating for sure. I’m a competitor, I have a competitive nature. I love the challenge of golf and just what it brings every day and it’s always something new. I’m kind of a perfectionist and it just, you can’t perfect this day.

It’s like, today was a great example you just, you know, you just never, you just never know I you know I thought, you know, Andrew was gonna run away with it and then all of a sudden there was three or four guys at 1300 par and you got to get a chance to win and it’s just it’s just a really unique game that we play you just, you really don’t know until the final putt drops.

Andrew Dodt (AUS) – Final round 72 (even-par), Total 203 (-13)

It was a good week. Just disappointed to finish it like that but all in all, it’s still a solid week. Hats off to Trevor Simsby. I got off to a good start.

Thinking back about the double-bogey on 15th, I made a good bounce back with a birdie on 16. The birdie on 17th was also quite possible but didn’t make it.

I tried to be aggressive out there today. It just got really hard on the back nine, mentally and physically. Still a lot of positives to take from this week.

Jarin Todd (USA) – Final round 70 (-2), Total 203 (-13)

Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out, you know. I hit a really good shot in regulation. I think it made the pin. It might have been different. I made a good putt there but missed it. I hit another good wedge shot there but just didn’t come back off the hill.

Lots of positives to take home from this week. Nice to go home and be in a decent spot on the final leaderboard. Thrilled to mark my  best result on Tour this week too.

Charlie Wi (KOR) – Final round 69 (-3), Total 204 (-12)

I played really well. I haven’t been in contention for a long time so I was a little nervous coming down the stretch. I guess it showed on the putt on 17th.  And I told my caddie I just slipped up and I got so anxious, but still, it was a lot of fun to be in.

I was surprised that I got up to the top. I thought Andrew got off to a good start and was wondering what happened to him. The anxieties set in then but that’s the reason why we play.

I thought that I was going to make that putt on 17. I really had a good feeling, but you know just not being in contention, it really showed that things got the best of me. So next time I’m in that situation, I’ll handle myself better. I’m getting into golf and I’m really enjoying it.

Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) – Final round 68 (-4), Total 204 (-12)

To be honest, I was feeling quite anxious because I missed the cut last week. I didn’t play bad last week but I just got nothing going. I told myself to stay patient and it paid off today. It’s kind of my day because I made an eagle hole-out on the 12th from about 130 yards. That was pretty nice.

Amir Nazrin (MAS) – Final round 70 (-2), Total 211 (-5)

I will take the two-under today. I made an eagle on the first which was my 10th hole today. I tried to push myself to get more birdies out there but only managed one coming back. But overall, I’m very happy with my performance this week.

This is my first time playing in my own National Open. It’s been a good week. I love the course, the surroundings and the people. The weather hasn’t been great to us unfortunately but it’s still a great week.

I hit my driver off the tee and then an eight-iron downwind to the green. But the green was firm and I had an eagle putt from about a pin and a half which I fortunately made.

I took like three days off before my first practice round here this week. I didn’t touch the clubs. Just want to clear my mind and not stress myself with a good finish here. I love the way I hit my irons this week and also the way I putted. I could have driven the ball better.

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