Japan, July 31: The Panasonic Corporation and Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO) today announced the cancellation of the 2020 Panasonic Open Golf Championship in Japan due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The popular event, which celebrated its milestone 10th edition on the Asian Tour in 2019, was originally scheduled to be held at the Joyo Country Club in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, from September 24 to 27.
However, due to health and safety concerns, as well as international travel restrictions on players living outside of Japan, organisers have decided to cancel the event where Japan’s Toshinori Muto clinched his first Asian Tour title last September.
The Asian Tour and JGTO will continue to work in unison with the Panasonic Corporation for the next and future editions.
Past champions of the Panasonic Open Golf Championship include Rahil Gangjee (2018), Kenichi Kuboya (2017), Yuta Ikeda (2016), Masahiro Kawamura (2013), Masanori Kobayashi (2012), Tetsuji Hiratsuka (2011), Brendan Jones (2010), Daisuke Maruyama (2009) and Hideto Tanihara (2008).
Sentosa, Singapore, July 31: Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore is set to make history today by becoming the world’s first golf club to join the United Nation’s Sports for Climate Action Initiative.
The prestigious golf venue, set on Sentosa Island alongside a diverse array of unique leisure experiences, is already highly regarded for its approach to environmental sustainability, and takes this significant step following its collaboration with international sustainable golf non-profit, GEO Foundation.
The UN’s Sports for Climate Action Initiative aims to support and guide sports organisations and their communities on a path to achieving the global climate goals set out by world leaders in the Paris Agreement.
The golf club will add its name to an already impressive list of sporting organisations to have joined including the New York Yankees, La Liga, Sky Sports and the All England Lawn Tennis Club (Wimbledon).
Sentosa Golf Club, currently holding the accolade of World’s Best Golf Club (World Golf Awards), will join these other participants in committing to a set of five agreed principles and incorporating them into their club strategy, policies, and procedures, as well as communicating them to their wider sporting community within Singapore and other golf clubs around the world.
The initiative also provides sports organisations with a forum to pursue climate action in a consistent and supportive manner by learning from one another, disseminating good practices, lessons learned, developing new innovations, and collaborating on areas of mutual interest.
It also aims to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius, as well as strengthening the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
Andrew Johnston, General Manager & Director of Agronomy at Sentosa Golf Club, said: “Becoming the first ever golf club to join the UN’s Sports for Climate Action Initiative is a tremendous honour for everyone associated with Sentosa Golf Club. We have already taken great strides with our sustainability programme in the last two years and are therefore extremely excited to be joining this initiative. We believe it is the right step for us as a club to continue on our journey to tackle climate change throughout the world and the game of golf.”
Sentosa Golf Club also recently announced a new partnership with GEO Foundation, an international non-profit which aims to inspire, support, recognise and share sustainability across golf. Through this collaboration, Sentosa Golf Club’s future sustainability work will be guided and supported by GEO’s sustainable golf agenda; tracked and evaluated using the industry leading OnCourse® program; verified and assured through the GEO Certified® label. It is also anticipated that GEO will help guide and accelerate sustainability action in relation to Sentosa Golf Club’s course renovations and the hosting of the SMBC Singapore Open.
Jonathan Smith, Founder and Executive Director of GEO Foundation, said: “This announcement underlines the strength of Sentosa’s forward-looking commitment to sustainability and climate action. We congratulate them on taking this important and ambitious leadership step, and look forward to supporting that commitment with the purpose-built tools, analysis and recognition that we provide to golf. Of course, we’d encourage other facilities interested in building sustainability and climate action into their operations to consider joining OnCourse® – as a practical first step to understanding current performance, guiding future efforts and establishing their position in the growing community of sustainable golf.”
Sentosa Golf Club’s green commitment was brought to the world’s attention with the launch of its #KeepItGreen campaign at the SMBC Singapore Open in January 2018. It has seen a number of key environmental features implemented at the club, such as the creation of its own bee colonies; using rechargeable lithium batteries in its golf carts; banning single use plastics from the golf course and replacing them with water stations; as well as building its own sustainable herb garden.
In January 2020, the club unveiled a new sustainability campaign, GAME ON, at the SMBC Singapore Open, that is designed to unite the global golf community in addressing the growing concerns of climate change. It aims to help golf clubs around the world to better prepare for climate change by introducing modern sustainability practices to reduce their own environmental footprint.
The campaign is closely aligned with The R&A’s 2030 Golf Course Initiative that considers the impacts, both positive and negative, of the changing climate, resource constraints and regulation on course condition and playability.
The R&A’s Asian headquarters is based at Sentosa Golf Club and they too are pushing an important sustainability agenda. Dominic Wall, Director – Asia-Pacific at The R&A, said: “We consider sustainability to be an important priority for golf and is crucial to the sport’s contribution to society, including its impact on the environment and use of resources.
“Our own Golf Course 2030 initiative aims to produce a roadmap that will outline steps to mitigate the challenges created by climate change, as well as taking advantage of the opportunities that exist to provide improved on-course conditions and playability for golfers around the world.”
ABOUT THE SPORTS FOR CLIMATE ACTION INITIATIVE
The Sports for Climate Action initiative calls on sporting organizations to acknowledge the contribution of the sports sector to climate change and our responsibility to strive towards climate neutrality for a safer planet.
Through collective action and bold leadership, sport has the power to make this fast and drastic transformation. By signing the Framework, signatories demonstrate a commitment to playing their part to ensure the sports sector is on the path to a low-carbon future.
In line with the five core principles enshrined in the Framework and the aims of the Paris Agreement, all signatories will strive to:
1) promote greater environmental responsibility;
2) reduce the overall climate impact from sports;
3) use the platform to educate for climate action;
4) promote sustainable and responsible consumption; and
5) advocate for climate action through communications.
ABOUT SENTOSA GOLF CLUB
Sentosa Golf Club is one of the most established golf clubs in Asia. Set on Sentosa Island, with a breathtaking backdrop of Singapore’s iconic cityscape, the club regularly receives world-class accolades and is enjoyed by 1,500 distinguished members. Sentosa is currently ranked 59th ‘Top 100 World’s Greatest Golf Courses’ by Golf Digest, ‘Top 100 in the World’ by Platinum Clubs of the World, whilst both its courses occupy the top two places in Golf Digest’s latest biennial rankings for ‘Singapore’s Best Courses’. The club is home to two championship ready courses – The Serapong and The New Tanjong – which are among the most challenging yet exciting golf courses in the region. As well as its thriving reputation, the club has played host to several high-profile professional events, including the SMBC Singapore Open on a record 11 occasions, where many of the sport’s biggest names compete on the Serapong Course for one of Asia’s biggest prize funds. The club is also home to the HSBC Women’s World Championship, a marquee LPGA Tour event that has been dubbed as ‘Asia’s Major’. Offering more than a memorable golfing experience, the club has excellent meeting and banquet facilities for corporate networking, as well as high-end dining options. Between 2018 and 2019 Sentosa hosted six globally televised golf events, a feat unmatched by any other club in the world. In 2019 the club received two of Singapore’s high-profile sustainability awards, the RHT Environmental Sustainability Game Changer and Sustainability Innovator, and was voted ‘Singapore’s Best Golf Course’ and the ‘World’s Best Golf Club’ at the World Golf Awards. Sentosa currently holds no fewer than six Asian Golf Awards, including ‘Best Managed Golf Club in Asia Pacific’, ‘Best Maintained Course in Asia Pacific’ and ‘Best Championship Course in Asia Pacific’.
ABOUT GEO FOUNDATION
GEO Foundation is the international not-for-profit dedicated to advancing sustainability in and through golf. Its goal is to work collaboratively to help the sport embrace environmental and social issues and become widely acclaimed for its role in fostering nature, conserving resources, building healthy communities and taking climate action. GEO assures the OnCourse® programmes for grassroots golf facilities, new developments and tournaments, each of which can lead to the internationally accredited, endorsed and independently verified GEO Certified® label.
Jeev Milkha Singh, India’s most decorated golfer, is handling lockdown – caused by the coronavirus pandemic – with the same mental fortitude that has seen him achieve so much success in the game.
“I took something positive out of it [lockdown],” says Singh, who has been at home in Chandigarh, in Northern India, with his family since mid-March.
“I said it is time for me to work on my mental side, time for me to work on my yoga, time for me to spend time with my family, with my son, and with my parents – who are getting old. My dad is about 90 and my mum is about 85.
“Instead of getting down on myself and saying ‘what is this? I can’t go out’, you have to look at the positives, it has happened, you have to respect it, you have to be a responsible citizen, a responsible human being, and now we need to maintain what needs to be done: social distancing, stay at home, and enjoy time with your family.”
After playing in the Bandar Malaysia Open in March he was supposed to fly to Thailand but the event there was postponed, so he flew to Dubai to practice. But he soon realized that India was going into lockdown and he rushed home to be with his family.
He says: “The good part is that after so many years – I have been a pro for 26 years – I haven’t spent time like this at home. The first two and a half months when you could not go out anywhere was very tough because I was so used to travelling and playing events.”
With lockdown restrictions eased about a month ago he has been able to play golf and not surprisingly says his game is “quite rusty”.
While very aware that it could be a while before his next tournament, he has his sights set firmly on a new, more ‘mature’, phase of his career next year.
“I am looking forward to the Senior tour,” says the two-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, who turns 50 in December next year.
“Next year onwards I am a senior, I’m gonna be a little kid in a candy store. I am going to do the qualifying for the Champions Tour next year, in October. I should be exempt in Europe, and Japan because I won four times.
“People ask me if I am looking forward to the Senior tour – I say no, I am looking forward to my pension fund!”
And while playing at the highest level is still an objective, he does have many other responsibilities in the game – including being the host of his own tournament: the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational presented by TAKE. Played at Chandigarh Golf Club, he first became involved with the event two years ago.
“Hopefully this year we should have it. It’s on the local Indian Tour, but it all depends with the situation. Each day things keep changing.”
He is extremely proud that the first two editions of the tournament went into extra-time, drew strong galleries and received great reviews.
But success is something that Singh is no stranger to and we can expect more accomplishments when he takes on the legends in the Senior’s game in the not too distant future.
July 20: Korea’s Soomin Lee emerged victorious on home soil when he won the KPGA Open with SOLLAGO CC on Sunday.
Lee, along with compatriots Hanbyeol Kim and Minkyu Kim, headed into a three-way play-off at the end of regulation play after the trio had secured 50 points in the modified stableford tournament.
Hanbyeol bowed out after making a par in the first play-off hole while Minkyu and Lee extended the contest to the second play-off hole where Lee prevailed with a birdie.
“It was a very challenging day as the winds were very strong. But I’m glad I managed to get the job done and this win is dedicated to my wife-to-be,” said Lee, who revealed he will be getting married later this year.
Lee turned professional in 2014 and came through the Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2015, capping two top-three results to finish in 29th place on the Order of Merit in his rookie season.
Although he secured his first European win in China in 2016, Lee has yet to win on the Asian Tour, coming close at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open and Maybank Championship in 2015 and 2016 respectively where he finished runner-up
Tamsui, Chinese Taipei, July 15: The long-standing Mercuries Taiwan Masters, originally scheduled to tee off at the Taiwan Golf and Country Club from September 17-20, will be cancelled this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision to cancel the Mercuries Taiwan Masters was based on health and safety concerns as well as international travel restrictions on players living outside Chinese Taipei. The tournament will now be staged in 2021 in its traditional time slot.
The Mercuries Taiwan Masters was inaugurated in 1987 and has been held annually on the Asian Tour from 2004.
It was announced earlier this year that the total prize purse for the Mercuries Taiwan Masters will be increased to US$950,000 from US$900,000. It enjoyed a US$50,000 increase to US$850,000 in 2018, before another US$50,000 increase in 2019 took its prize purse to US$900,000 then.
Last year, Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai clinched his Asian Tour breakthrough at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters with a one-shot victory while local veteran Lu Wen-teh remains the only champion to have successfully defended his title in 2008.
Lu also holds the record of most wins in the event with four in 1994, 1996, 2007 and 2008.
July 13: Teenage sensation Joohyung Kim of Korea continued to prove his star credentials when he won the KPGA Gunsan Country Club Open on Sunday.
It was the 18-year-old’s first victory on home soil and was especially sweet for the one-time Asian Tour winner, having lost in a play-off barely a week ago on his domestic circuit.
Kim closed with a two-under-par 69 to sign off the week with a winning total of 16-under-par 268, becoming also the youngest winner on the Korea Professional Golfers’ Association (KPGA) .
Kim had won three times on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) to earn his promotion to the Asian Tour in 2019. He went on to clinch his breakthrough victory in India last November to become the second youngest professional player to win on the Asian Tour at 17 years and 149 days
“I really wanted to win in Korea and being the youngest winner on the KPGA means a lot to me. Losing in the play-off last week made me even more determined to try harder. I’m glad I managed to do better this week.
“I tried not to put too much pressure on myself today. I did not start off well with a bogey but managed to hit back with three birdies which was good. I’m glad I had the job done and I look forward to winning more titles in Korea,” said Kim.
Japan’s Naoki Sekito, who enjoyed two top-10s at the Hong Kong Open and Bandar Malaysia Open earlier this year, also clinched a home victory at Golf Partner with JGTO Exhibition Tournament. The 22-year-old posted rounds of 65 and 61 for a two-shot victory over compatriot Shotaro Wada.
Asian Tour Qualifying School graduate Tanapat Pichaikool of Thailand gave veteran Thaworn Wiratchant a run for his money by matching the old warhorse stride for stride in the final round of the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation 2020 before two bogeys in his last three holes for the 20-year-old Tanapat saw him finishing second behind Thaworn at the 54-hole event in Lop Buri, Thailand.
Over in the United States, Korean-American David Lipsky, the 2014 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, secured his maiden victory by winning the TPC San Antonio Challenge. Lipsky vaulted himself into the 54-hole lead with course-record 62 on Saturday and went on to win by four over Taylor Pendrith with a closing 66.
American John Catlin, a four-time Asian Tour winner, meanwhile closed with a 69 to finished tied-eighth at the Austria Open as the European Tour season restarted after a four-month break due to the global coronavirus pandemic.