Korea’s Y.E. Yang believes it will not take another 12 years for the region to herald a third major champion following Hideki Matsuyama’s stunning victory at the Masters Tournament last month.
Ahead of this week’s PGA Championship which is the year’s second major, Yang tipped six-time PGA TOUR winner Matsuyama to compile more major victories and expects his fellow countrymen such as Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim to also succeed on the major stage.
Yang wrote golf history in 2009 when he became Asia’s first male major champion by winning the PGA Championship at Hazeltine where he overcame a two-shot deficit in the final round to defeat Tiger Woods in a memorable head-to-head duel.
It strangely took more than a decade before Asia savoured another major high when Matsuyama became the first Japanese champion at the Masters, which Yang said he followed every shot of the final round at Augusta National on TV.
“I watched the final round until the final moment. Hideki stayed in control of his game until the end without losing focus. He earned the title to become the first Asian player win at Augusta National, which I want to congratulate him. I believe he can win more major titles and he will have a positive effect on Japanese and Asian golf. Prior to the Masters, I always felt Hideki could win one of majors,” said Yang.
As a former PGA champion, Yang will feature in this week’s elite 156-man field gathered at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. He will be joined by Matsuyama, Im, Kim, Byeong Hun An and last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson winner, K.H. Lee. Talented Japanese duo Takumi Kanaya and Rikuya Hoshino, and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond will also fly Asia’s flag at Kiawah Island.
Yang, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, is preparing to make the transition to PGA TOUR Champions as he turns 50 next January and he has kept himself competitive by playing in tournaments on the Korn Ferry Tour and in Asia in recent times.
“Twelve years have passed since the first Asian win in a major and Hideki subsequently won. I really think more Asian players will go on to win major titles now. Players who can potentially win are Sungjae Im, Siwoo Kim, Byeong Hun An and K.H.Lee. They are potential candidates to be our next major champion,” said Yang, who earned the nickname Tiger-tamer following his historic victory over Woods.
“As for Hideki, now that he has already won the Masters and several other PGA TOUR tournaments, I can only see him setting a record for most PGA TOUR wins by an Asian player as long as he keeps his focus on the game.”
Twelve years may be a long time but Yang has vivid memories of his great triumph over Woods.
“It’s been more than 10 years now that I competed against Tiger and won. That event will always stay in my memory for a very long time. It will be one of my career highlights for sure,” he said.
Yang is confident he can compete against the other legends of the game on PGA TOUR Champions. He should receive a number of exemptions next year through his success on the PGA TOUR.
“If I get onto PGA TOUR Champions, I will be one of the younger players. And for that, I will try my best to make every event count and perform well. When I play on the PGA TOUR and Korn Ferry Tour, I do feel I’m not the same like during my younger days. I hope to be more competitive on Champions.
“I’ve enjoyed my time on the PGA TOUR where there were some ups and downs. But I feel very proud with my success and have great pride and joy,” said Yang, who has made 192 starts on the PGA TOUR and earned close to US$9 million in prize winnings.
Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino made his 25th birthday a truly memorable one when he won the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup Golf on Sunday for his fifth victory on the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) and second triumph this year.
Hoshino, who turned 25 years old five days ago, started the week on a good note as he earned an invitation to this week’s PGA Championship by virtue of being ranked 100th on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).
The talented Japanese would go on to end the week on an even better note, securing another invitation to The Open this July following his victory, which also marked his third win in the extended 2020-21 season on the JGTO.
Hoshino battled against gusty winds to sign off with a second consecutive three-under-par 69 and win by four shots over 2011 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines with a 13-under-par 275 total at the Sagamihara Golf Club’s East Course.
“I just can’t believe that this could be done. I pushed myself to the limit and I have given it all. I felt so exhausted after the tournament,” said Hoshino, who climbed to a career-best 69th place on the OWGR following his win.
Hoshino extended his overnight two-shot lead to six after sinking birdies on the second, fifth and eighth holes. He dropped two straight bogeys on 11 and 12 but recovered swiftly with birdies on the next two holes.
“I was in shock when I made bogeys and that really put me under pressure. I told myself no matter how many shots I am leading, I wanted to play aggressively. That strong mentality gave me those birdies on 13 and 14”, added Hoshino, who won the Kansai Open Golf Championship last month.
Hoshino took over the driver’s seat on the JGTO’s money list, thanks to his win. He also put himself in a good position to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics with his new ranking on the OWGR where he hails as the second highest ranked Japanese following Hideki Matsuyama, who sits in 15th.
The 51-year-old Thai star finished tied 26th in the Mitsubishi Electric Classic at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Georgia on Sunday but the manner in which he closed out the tournament gave him plenty of confidence and optimism for his golf future.
After struggling with an outward 40, Thongchai birdied five of the closing seven holes to ensure his first competitive appearance on U.S. soil since March 2012 ended on a high note.
“It was a good comeback on the back nine. I enjoyed being here,” said Thongchai.
“I struggled with my putting on the front. We played all right all week but I didn’t have enough time to practice as I arrived on Tuesday from Thailand and was jetlagged. The greens here are very difficult and I couldn’t get the speed right. There were firm and fast but with it being softer today, I had good chances on the back nine. I missed only a few greens and had two three-putts on 8 and 9.”
The former three-time Asian Tour No. 1 and eight-time winner on the European Tour is playing catch-up on PGA TOUR Champions. After earning his card by finishing a creditable second in Qualifying School in December 2019 courtesy of a final round 62, Thongchai went on to finish T29 and T52 in his first two events last March before COVID-19 shut down all sports across the globe.
He returned to Bangkok subsequently and opted to remain in his home country due to the pandemic restricting international travel. It unfortunately resulted in him missing the restart of PGA Tour Champions last July and prior to last week, he had already missed 16 tournaments, thus limiting the opportunities that he will have on the over-50 circuit for the remainder of 2021.
“I enjoy being on PGA TOUR Champions which is a good tour. I was stuck in Thailand due to COVID and tried to leave the country to play here but I couldn’t do it. The situation at home was difficult and we didn’t have any vaccine then but now that I‘ve got both my vaccines, I have more confidence and I hope to spend more time in the U.S,” he said.
Thongchai added that his next start will be the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma from May 27-30, a venue which holds dear to his heart. The veteran Thai, who was a paratrooper and served in the army during his amateur days, knows every start must count to boost his position in the Champions re-rank category. He is also prepared to play Monday qualifiers to get into other Champions events should he be ineligible through his present status.
“At the moment, I’m not sure (about my schedule). There will be a re-rank and if I can’t get into tournaments, I will try to Monday qualify. I plan to hang around and to be here more,” said Thongchai, whose illustrious career also saw him become the first Thai to play in the Presidents Cup in 2015.
With an appearance in the Senior PGA, which will be his first major start as a Champions golfer, it will mark a full cycle in Thongchai’s illustrious career as his first major appearance was at Southern Hills when he made it into the 2001 U.S. Open through sectional qualifying. He finished tied 74th in what was the first of 32 career major appearances.
As the first Thai qualifier of the U.S. Open, Thongchai made global headlines that week after saying in a pre-tournament press conference that he opted to sleep on the floor of his US$200-a-night hotel room as the bed was “too soft.”
Twenty years on, he is prepared to toughen it out again to make his mark on PGA TOUR Champions.
Sentosa Golf Club has further expanded its sustainability agenda by announcing a new partnership with Porsche Asia Pacific.
Five new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations have been installed as part of Porsche Destination Charging, a global charging network available at premium lifestyle destinations, making Sentosa the first golf club in Singapore and the Southeast Asia region to join the programme.
From today, the AC destination chargers (11kW) are available for use by all plug-in-hybrid or fully electric vehicles that use a Type 2 connector, enabling members to top up their cars free of charge whilst going about their day-to-day business at the Club.
It coincides with Sentosa Island’s plan to transform into a carbon-neutral destination by 2030 and Singapore’s ambitious target to phase out all internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040, as well as to create 60,000 EV charging points by 2030 to pave the way for a greater uptake of electric vehicles. As of January 2021, there were just over 1,200 electric vehicles, out of a total car population of 636,483 units (0.2%), and 1,800 EV charging points in Singapore.
Sentosa Golf Club will use the opportunity to encourage its members to take a more sustainable approach and go electric for the good of the environment.
The installation is the latest sustainability initiative to be rolled out at Sentosa Golf Club, following its reduction of single use plastics, the introduction of numerous water conversation measures, housing bee colonies on the golf course and plans to grind down waste to reuse it as fertiliser.
The Club also became the first golf club in the world to sign the UN Sports for Climate Action Initiative last year and is widely recognised for its commitment to sustainability through campaigns such as Keep It Green and, more recently, GAME ON.
Sustainability is also a top priority for Porsche with the brand committed globally to reducing negative environmental impact while further reinforcing positive influence on society.
Andrew Johnston, General Manager & Director of Agronomy at Sentosa Golf Club, said “We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Porsche Asia Pacific and Porsche Centre Singapore to have five electric charging points installed at Sentosa Golf Club. Porsche are one of the most credible and best-known makers of top-quality luxury vehicles in the world and it is fantastic to be working with them on this project.
“This agreement aligns itself closely with our overall sustainability agenda, especially our #KeepItGreen campaign that has become one of the Club’s key pillars and a way of life. With this new introduction, we will encourage our members to act in a sustainable manner by going electric and helping us on our journey to becoming carbon neutral.”
Henrik Dreier, Director New Business Fields at Porsche Asia Pacific, said “We are continuously working with partners such as Sentosa Golf Club to provide more charging points at convenient locations that match and seamlessly integrate into the lifestyle of our customers. By leading the charge in expanding charging infrastructure for drivers in Singapore and around the globe, we hope the adoption of electric vehicles will become more widespread. Our goal is to become the most sustainable and recognised brand for exclusive and sports mobility in the world.”
Sentosa Golf Club’s latest environmental campaign, GAME ON, was launched at the SMBC Singapore Open in 2020 and is designed to help educate and illustrate to the wider golfing community how important modern sustainable practices are for the betterment of the environment, acting as inspiration for golf clubs around the world to make changes to reduce their own carbon footprint. Sentosa Golf Club also works closely with international sustainable golf non-profit, GEO Foundation, to pioneer innovative practices and elevate Sentosa’s commitment to serve as a centre of excellence.
Porsche launched the Taycan, the first all-electric Porsche, in Singapore last year. The highly lauded electric sports car has been declared the most important innovation driver in the global automotive market by the Centre of Automotive Management (CAM).
By 2025, Porsche aims to have 50 per cent of its vehicles sold to be either fully electric or plug-in hybrid models. The production process of the fully electric Porsche Taycan at the main plant in Zuffenhausen is already CO2-neutral. Porsche also involves its partners and suppliers in its sustainability strategy. For example, battery cell suppliers may only use electricity from renewable energy sources in their production processes. At the same time, Porsche is working to re-use or recycle used vehicle batteries once they have reached the end of their service life.
Sentosa Golf Club, regarded as one of the world’s most sustainable sporting venues, has announced a commitment to become the world’s first ever carbon neutral golf club by 2022.
The announcement comes during Sentosa Golf Club’s hosting of the HSBC Women’s World Championship, dubbed ‘Asia’s Major’, where 69 of the world’s best players are set to battle it out on The Tanjong.
Contributions from golf rounds over the next 12 months will be set aside to support the purchase of certified carbon offsets through regional Forestry or Blue Carbon projects, that will sequester atmospheric carbon while defending against deforestation and fostering conservation of forests, mangroves and reefs.
Sentosa Golf Club is also aiming to join the United Nations’ Race to Zero (carbon emissions) campaign following its pledge to neutralise the Club’s carbon footprint by 2022.
This latest goal builds on the Club’s various carbon mitigation measures over the past few years, including achieving Singapore’s Green Mark (Platinum) certification through enhancing the energy efficiency of its clubhouse, the first in the region to introduce lithium battery golf carts and increasing the efficiency of its irrigation system by deploying some 1,200 water saving sprinklers across the golf courses.
The Club has already undertaken the important first step of establishing its carbon footprint against the Green House Gas Protocol, in conjunction with Sentosa Development Corporation’s (SDC) island-wide carbon profiling efforts and GEO Foundation, the international non-profit dedicated entirely to inspiring, supporting, and recognising sustainable golf.
Moving ahead, the Club will further realise its carbon neutral goal by stepping up its efforts to pursue solutions that will make club operations and grounds maintenance more carbon efficient, including golf equipment and maintenance fleet electrification initiatives and renewable energy sources.
Sentosa Golf Club’s commitment is aligned with SDC’s goals towards sustainability. SDC announced in March 2021 that Sentosa Island would be transformed into a carbon neutral destination by 2030 as a key goal in its sustainability plan, bringing on board some 200 businesses within Sentosa to work towards the collective aspiration of island carbon neutrality.
Having become the first golf club in the world to join the United Nation’s Sports for Climate Action Initiative last year, Andrew Johnston, General Manager / Director of Agronomy and Resident Golf Course Designer at Sentosa Golf Club, commented on the latest pledge saying: “We are excited to set the aspiration to become the first golf club in the world to go carbon neutral. Since joining the United Nation’s Sports for Climate Action initiative in 2020 it has been our goal to become carbon neutral and hopefully inspire others around the world to follow suit.
“The Club is also proud to be aligned with Sentosa Island’s recent commitment to become a carbon neutral destination by 2030 and we are looking forward to working closely with SDC and other businesses on the Island to achieve this goal. Our vision is to deliver a world-class facility of exceptional quality, and our commitment to carbon neutrality will safeguard the Club’s long-term future and allow us to be a model for sustainability in golf worldwide.”
Thien Kwee Eng, Chief Executive Officer at Sentosa Development Corporation, added “Sentosa Development Corporation is excited by Sentosa Golf Club’s commitment to become the world’s first carbon neutral golf club. Golf can act as a catalyst in the fight against climate change and it is great to see one of Singapore’s premier golf clubs leading the way in reducing carbon emissions. The Club’s sustainability agenda is closely linked to that of the Island’s, and we are looking forward to working alongside the Club as we progress towards achieving Sentosa’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2030.”
This announcement is the latest in a long list of sustainable initiatives and commitments made by Sentosa Golf Club since the launch of its newest environmental campaign, GAME ON, at the 2020 SMBC Singapore Open. The campaign is designed to help educate and illustrate to the wider golfing community how important modern sustainable practices are for the betterment of the environment, acting as inspiration for golf clubs around the world to make changes to reduce their own carbon footprint.
Sentosa Golf Club intends to continue developing its sustainable initiatives in 2021 by installing two food and horticultural waste digesters to limit carbon emissions by grinding down waste on-site and reusing it as fertiliser on its two championship courses.
The Club also continues to explore alternative energy solutions such as solar, as well as other sustainable food produce options, whilst its collaboration with GEO Foundation aims to pioneer new innovative practices and report credible results to share with other golfing organisations around the world.