July 2021 | Asian Tour

Vincent leads Asian Tour Olympians

Published on July 31, 2021

Zimbabwean Scott Vincent and fellow Asian Tour players Anirban Lahiri from India and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond all have an outside chance of finishing in the medals after another gripping day at the Olympic men’s golf competition today.

Vincent impressed in round three shooting one of the lowest scores of the day, a five-under-par 66, to move to seven under for tournament ‒ which is seven strokes behind American Xander Schauffele, who leads on 14 under after carding a 68.

Lahiri, one of the few players in the field to have competed in Rio five years ago, also fared well returning a 68 to lie a further shot back along with Jazz, who signed for a 72.

Jazz plays his shot from the 13th tee during the third round (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

All three will have to shoot low on Sunday at Kasumigaseki Country Club to challenge for honours.

Jazz did just that on day one when he came in with a 64, to sit second, but frustrating rounds of 71 and 72 have followed. He was paired with Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry today, who both excelled, firing 67 and 68, to finish three and four shots behind the leader, respectively.

Vincent, one of the most consistent performers on the Asian Tour over the past five years, was also a picture of consistency today, making five birdies and no bogeys.

And, Lahiri, determined to improve on his 57th placing in the previous Olympics, bravely fought his way back after a bogey at the first to birdie eight, eagle nine and birdie 14.

A total of seven Asian Tour players are competing in the star-studded 60 man field.

Matsuyama talks with Schauffele on the 12th hole in round thee (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

Second-round leader Schauffele made a brilliant birdie on the last to edge one ahead of Japan’s great hope for gold, Hideki Maruyama, who returned a 67.

England’s Paul Casey (66) and Carlos Ortiz from Mexico (69) are tied for third, a further stroke behind.

The last round sets up a fascinating battle between Schauffele and Matsuyama, who were also paired together in the final round of the Masters this year when the Japanese star triumphed.

“Yeah, it’s good,” said Schauffele.

“Hideki’s a great player, he’s our current Masters champion. I plan on wearing that jacket someday as well, and whenever you play against the world’s best you happen to see them a lot. So, we’re playing together tomorrow in the final group, and I assume we’ll be playing in more final groups for years to come.”

Published on July 30, 2021

Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond maintained his pursuit of an Olympic medal today at Tokyo 2020 when he carded an even-par 71 in the men’s golf competition, to sit at seven under par for the tournament ‒ just four shots behind second-round clubhouse leader Xander Schauffele from the United States.

Jazz, who won the Asian Tour Order of Merit title in 2019 thanks to four victories, was unable to repeat the heroics of his opening day 64 but was content with his performance during another weather effected day at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

“Sometimes you have a good day, sometimes you have a bad day. I would say today is kind of in the middle. I didn’t play as good, I didn’t hit it as good,” said the 25-year-old.

He made one birdie and one bogey but was unlucky not to make a four on the par-five 14th, when his brilliant approach hit the pin and ricochet 60 feet away.

Jazz Janewattananond of Team Thailand plays a second shot on the second hole during the second round of the men’s golf at Tokyo 2020 at Kasumigaseki Country Club on July 30, 2021 in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

His back nine was interrupted by an hour and a half weather delay but he was grateful to complete his round before another delay stopped play permanently for the day. Sixteen players will restart at 7.45am local time on Saturday.

“[I] just didn’t give myself enough chances. Struggling with lines, struggling with the spin, couldn’t control it. But I’m actually not too upset with my score because I knew I was struggling. I was just trying to get it around without doing too much damage.”

The Thai star is in privileged company as he is tied in seventh place with Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry.

Jazz added: “I think I have put myself in a pretty good position, like if someone were to ask me, okay, you’re two strokes back or three strokes back even going into the last two days would you take it right now before the tournament start and I would say I would. So, I mean you can say I played bad today, didn’t play as good as yesterday, but still I’m only two, three back. So, I’m actually pretty happy with myself.”

India’s Anirban Lahiri watches his drive from the 14th tee in round two of the men’s golf at Tokyo 2020 at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe on July 30, 2021. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

Schauffele took charge of the tournament with a stunning 63, which was highlighted by two eagles, to reach 11 under and lead by one from Mexican Carlos Ortiz, in with a 67.

Chilean Mito Pereira (65), Alex Noren from Sweden (67) and Austria’s Sepp Straka (71) are three behind the leader.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, this year’s Masters champion, is eight under with two to play.

Seven-time Asian Tour winner Anirban Lahiri from India will also complete his second round tomorrow as he has two holes remaining. He is still in the hunt for honours but will need to rebound from today’s round which saw him play 16 holes in one over.

Filipino Juvic Pagunsan, the 2011 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, is also far from out of it at three under but like Lahiri will need to improve on his second round 73.

Tied with him is Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino, the current leader of the Japan Tour money list, who played his way back into contention with a 68.

Hoshino, who has played on the Asian Tour for the past three seasons, had the honour of teeing off first in Thursday’s opening round.

Asian Tour regular Scott Vincent from Zimbabwe also shone on day two shooting a 67 to finish two under for event.

Scott Vincent of Team Zimbabwe plays his shot from the fourth tee during the second round of the men’s golf at Tokyo 2020 at Kasumigaseki Country Club on July 30, 2021 in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Published on July 29, 2021

Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, thrilled his army of followers in the region today when he shot a seven-under-par 64 to finish in sole possession of second place after the first round of the Olympic Games men’s golf competition.

A fine birdie on the long par-four 18th ‒ where he struck his approach to three feet ‒ saw him sign for a sublime and unblemished opening round, composed of seven birdies and no dropped shots, to finish one stroke behind Austrian Sepp Straka, whose 63 was a course and Olympic record.

Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and Carlos Ortiz from Mexico tied for third after shooting 65s, at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

In equal fifth is Filipino Juvic Pagunsan, the 2011 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, who carded a 66.

Pagunsan walks with his caddie in round one of the men’s golf competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe on July 29, 2021. (Photo by YOSHIHIRO IWAMO / AFP) (Photo by YOSHIHIRO IWAMO/AFP via Getty Images)

And, Indian star Anirban Lahiri made it three Asian Tour Order of Merit champions in the top-10 when he returned a 67, to tie for eighth.

Jazz, who claimed four Asian Tour titles when he won the 2019 Order of Merit, raced up the leader board with a four-under-par 31 back nine, with his other birdies coming on 10, 11, and 13. He also had four birdies in a row as he made birdies on eight and nine.

Impressively, Jazz ‒ who is one of 10 Asian Tour players competing in the elite 60-man field ‒ moved into contention despite having to finish his last three holes after two-hour and 19-minute weather delay.

“It’s early in the tournament,” Jazz said. “You can’t win the tournament on the first day, but you can get yourself in a good position for sure. So, I think I did that, I put myself in a good position and I just tried to hang on and try to keep going on.”

When asked what it is like to play in his first Olympics, he added: “Playing golf with a different mindset. You’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing for the country, you’re playing for the medals, you’re just going for it, you’re just playing with all your heart, it’s different.”

Having won his first title in Japan at the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open in May, Pagunsan today showed he is playing some of the finest golf of his career at the age of 43.

He fired six birdies and just one bogey, proudly flying the flag as the only Filipino in the field, with compatriot and former Tour player  Artemio Murakami on the bag.

Lahiri plays his shot from the fourth tee during the first round at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club on July 29, 2021 in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Lahiri won the Order of Merit in 2015 and is determined this week to improve on his 57th placing in Rio.

“It was good. I think I started off a little dodgy first few holes, couldn’t get my rhythm going early. But then I settled down nicely,” said the Indian.

“I think I played pretty good. I probably feel like I could have taken some more chances, some opportunities on the back nine I didn’t make as many birdies as I could have. But I’m playing well, so I have to build on this and as you can see already there’s a lot of opportunities if it keeps playing like this, soft, there’s not much rain today, then you have to go out there and just really be aggressive and make a lot of putts.”

Pre-tournament favourites Collin Morikawa from the United States ‒ winner of The Open two weeks ago ‒ Masters’ champion Hideki Matsuyama from Japan, and Ireland’s Rory McIlory all carded 69s.

Published on July 28, 2021

Anirban Lahiri and Udayan Mane are not just fighting for an Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 medal in the men’s golf competition this week – they are desperate to put golf firmly on the map in their native India.

The Indian duo will carry their nation’s challenge at Kasumigaseki Country Club beginning on Thursday, knowing full well an unprecedented medal in golf would do wonders in growing the sport and enticing greater support in their cricket-mad homeland.

“It will mean that the face of golf will change permanently,” said Mane, who is making his Olympics debut.

“Right now, there is a select amount of people who know what golf is in our country. If we can win a medal, people will know what golf is, all the 1.2 billion people in India. There’ll definitely be more kids taking up golf as there are these new opportunities staring at them. It will change how everyone looks at golf in India. Cricket will always be No. 1 but we’ll at least be able to shorten the gap.”

Lahiri – winner of the 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit – is on a quest for redemption in Tokyo after finishing 57th out of 60 golfers in Rio 2016. Back then, he was playing with an injury but the PGA TOUR regular enters the week in good form following a top-three finish at the Barbasol Open for his best finish of the season.

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 27: Anirban Lahiri of Team India plays during a practice round at Kasumigaseki Country Club ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

“It’ll be huge,” said Lahiri on the prospect of what a medal in golf would do for India.

“As you can imagine, it’s a big deal. The Olympics is a big deal. We had our first silver (women’s weightlifting) on the first day of the Games, which was the first time it’s happened. I’m beginning to see the ripples beginning to take effect at home and I can feel how it will boost that sport positively and I would love for it to happen in golf. This is a great opportunity to have a first with golf … for us to change the perception and attitude.

“I definitely have a lot more intent, more focus, more believe and definitely more confidence. To compare last time and this time, it’s totally different. I came with an injury and was coming off the back of some WDs going into Rio. Feels like I’m moving in the right direction with my golf and with my body. I think it’s good timing for me.”

Mane, a 30-year-old with 11 victories on his domestic circuit, grew up competing in swimming and basketball before being bitten by the golf bug which saw him pursuing the sport as a career. Getting on the flight to Tokyo was a dream come true after he qualified as the 60th player when entries closed last month.

“It feels surreal, it feels fulfilling and I feel proud. I am still in shock really and there’s a cocktail of feelings in my body that I can’t express through words fully yet. By the time the first round arrives, I would know what I’m feeling,” he beamed.

Staying with the Indian contingent at the Games Village has provided Mane with an experience of a lifetime and opened his eyes as well seeing how other Olympians prepare themselves for competition.

“I’ve definitely realised one thing … I’ve got to work much harder on my fitness seeing all the athletes over there. The atmosphere is really intense, and everyone is out there to win something for their country and make their country proud. The intensity at the village where everyone is trying to peak at the right moment is pretty cool to watch,” he said.

“I spoke to a few Norwegian female weightlifters and they had more muscles than I do! They were ripped and were as tall as I am. They were more curious about golf than anything else, asking me like how we play 18 holes and that was pretty cool. I met a few other Indian athletes and they’re so dedicated in what they want to do. They are so focused on what they want to achieve that you can learn from them.”

Donning India’s tri-colours will provide the motivation for Lahiri and Mane as they seek podium finishes. “It always invokes the feeling of going beyond yourself. You’re not here for yourself this week. Anirban Lahiri is not playing for Anirban Lahiri. I’m playing for India, for my motherland,” he said.

“You’re thinking of going beyond what you think is your best. Definitely wearing your nation’s colours make a difference. It’s a hugely positive thing. I believe I have experience, the game and fortitude to do what is needed. I want to give myself the opportunity come Sunday. That’s what I’m here to do and that’s all I’m thinking about.”

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Eight players from the Asian Tour will tee off in one of the tournaments of their lives tomorrow when they compete in the first round of the Olympic Men’s Golf Competition, at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

And, perhaps, none will be more excited and proud than Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino who The International Golf Federation ‒ organisers of the golf event ‒ have given the honour of hitting the opening tee shot.

Hoshino, who was the leading Asian Tour player to qualify after finishing in 24th place on the rankings, will start at 7:30 a.m. local time ‒ along with Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Sepp Straka of Austria.

The 25 year old, who has played on the Asian Tour for the past three years, has enjoyed a brilliant 2021, winning twice in Japan to take pole position on the money list there.

The other Japanese player competing ‒ Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama ‒goes off at 8:41 a.m.

India’s Anirban Lahiri, who competed in Rio five years ago, is the next Asian Tour player off at 8.52 a.m.; while Gavin Green from Malaysia, the other Asian Tour competitor in the field who competed in Rio, is in the following group at 9.03 a.m.

Both are former Asian Tour Order of Merit champions.

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 27: Anirban Lahiri of Team India plays during a practice round at Kasumigaseki Country Club ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul is in the threesome at 9.14 a.m; while his compatriot Jazz Janewattananond – the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit winner – starts his Olympics at 9.47 a.m.

Juvic Pagunsan from the Philippines and Zimbabwean Scott Vincent are the only Asian Tour players paired together at 10.58 a.m., and India’s Udayan Mane ‒ who earned the 60th and final Olympic qualifying berth ‒ makes his debut in the Olympics at 11.09 a.m.

In one of the high-profile groups, American Collin Morikawa ‒ last week’s winner of The Open ‒ Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland and Korean Sungjae Im begin at 10.25 a.m.

Published on July 27, 2021

As a boy, Rikuya Hoshino had visions of competing in the Olympics and challenging for a medal for his country, Japan.

Come Thursday, the 25-year-old gets to live his dream when the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 men’s golf competition tees off with the first round at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

Hoshino, a five-time Japan Golf Tour winner, was given the honour of hitting the opening tee shot scheduled at 7.30am after he was placed in the first group of the day with Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Austria’s Sepp Straka.

“The fairway on the first hole is very narrow, so I’m definitely going to be nervous about that but I want to really focus on trying to hit the fairway and have a good start,” he said in a press conference with compatriot Hideki Matsuyama on Tuesday.

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 25: Hideki Matsuyama and
Rikuya Hoshino of Team Japan pose for a portrait at Kasumigaseki Country Club ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

While most of the spotlight leading up to the men’s golf competition has been on Matsuyama, who won the Masters Tournament in April, Hoshino is relishing the opportunity of representing Japan and fighting for a podium finish.

“The Olympics is a stage that I’ve dreamed about since I was little growing up. And since the last edition of the Olympics, golf has been added and I’ve been wanting to participate. I’m finally happy to be able to join the Tokyo Olympics in my home country,” said Hoshino.

The slender local star is quietly confident he can enjoy a strong week. This season, he has won twice on the domestic circuit while a T26 finish at the U.S. Open in June for his best major finish in four appearances has given him new self-belief he can go toe-to-toe with the game’s top stars.

“It’s going to a very unique type of nervousness, but I’m going to try my best to win a medal,” he said. “At the U.S. Open, I went on to make the cut. So I felt like I could play well on the big stage and that became a catalyst to gain some confidence.”

With Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito making history for Japan on Monday as the mixed doubles pair produced an epic comeback to give the nation its first-ever table tennis Olympic gold medal, Hoshino hopes he and Matsuyama will also create their own Olympic moment at Kasumigaseki’s East course.

“I’ve been watching other fellow Japanese athletes compete and last night, I watched our team win the table tennis gold medal, which was inspiring. I think I want to join them and do my best and convert the inspiration into playing well on the golf course,” said Hoshino.

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 25: Hideki Matsuyama of Team Japan plays during a practice round at Kasumigaseki Country Club ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Matsuyama, a six-time winner on the PGA TOUR, will get his campaign underway at 8.41am alongside Australia’s Marc Leishman and Canadian Corey Conner while World No. 3 Collin Morikawa, who won The Open Championship two weeks ago for his second major victory, will launch his quest for gold alongside Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Sungjae Im of Korea.

With a Green Jacket already in his wardrobe following his historic Masters win which made him the first Japanese male major champion, Matsuyama is keen to grab gold despite the weight of a golf-mad nation resting on his shoulders.

“To be able to represent Japan and play in my home Olympics, this is probably the first and last time I’ll be able to do that,” said the 29-year-old. “I’m very happy to be able to participate here. Three weeks ago, I got tested positive for COVID-19 and I wasn’t really sure if I’ll be able to make it to the stage here, so finally I’m here and I’m very happy.

“I won the Asia Pacific Amateur here 11 years ago which got me into the Masters, which I went on to win this year,” Matsuyama added. “So, in a way Kasumigaseki has been a place for me to progress and grow. Hopefully I can do the same this week and move to the another level.”

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 24: A general view at the Kasumigaseki Country Club ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 24, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Featured photo: Credits to International Golf Feberation (IGF)

Published on July 26, 2021

Thai golf duo Jazz Janewattananond and Gunn Charoenkul have found added motivation ahead of the men’s golf competition at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 after finding inspiration from compatriot Panipak Wongpattanakit, who won gold in the women’s taekwondo 49kg event.

Both golfers were glued to the TV screen in the Olympic Village on Saturday night when the 23-year-old Panipak delivered Thailand’s first gold medal of the Games with a victory in the final seconds against Spain’s Adriana Cerezo Iglesias.

SAITAMA, JAPAN – JULY 26: Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand practices on the 18th hole prior to the Men’s Individual Stroke Play event on Day 6 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the Kasumigaseki Country Club on July 26, 2021 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR/IGF)

“Gunn and I watched Thailand take gold, and it was pretty amazing even watching it on TV,” said Jazz, a six-time winner and the 2019 Order of Merit champion on the Asian Tour. “We were like, ‘Oh my God, this is happening and we’re getting a medal.’ It kind of kickstarted our emotions a little bit and we’re now thinking it’s possible even in our sport to win a medal and let’s go do it.”

The 25-year-old Jazz and Gunn, 29, are making their Olympic debuts at Kasumigaseki Country Club starting on Thursday where they hope to land Thailand’s first-ever medal in the men’s golf competition. Five years ago in Rio, Kiradech Aphibarnrat tied for fifth and Thongchai Jaidee finished 15th.

Jazz, who is ranked 145th in the world, said being amongst other Olympians has been an amazing experience so far. “It’s pretty surreal. It didn’t hit me until pretty much arriving at the Games Village and walking around, going to the gym and walking to the recreation centre. It really hit me that I’m really one of the Olympians now. Back in the day, golf wasn’t in the Olympics, so I kind of had to pinch myself that I’m here now and representing Thailand. The dream is to get the gold but if you say ‘Jazz, you can go home now with any medal’, I’ll gladly take it.”

THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 23: Gunn Charoenkul of Thailand plays a shot on the second hole during the second round of the Zozo Championship @ Sherwood on October 23, 2020 in Thousand Oaks, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Gunn, a two-time winner on PGA TOUR Series-China and a regular on the Japan Golf Tour, said Panipak’s last-gasp victory in the martial arts event was awe-inspiring. “We were sitting on our couch and there were three Thai guys watching Thailand vs Spain and it was kind of scary at the same time as there were quite a few Spain athletes behind us! We kind of won gold in the last 15 seconds and overtook Spain by one point. It shows it can be done,” said Gunn.

“The Olympics are big in our home country,” Gunn added. “It’s also my first time representing my national team so I’m really proud and happy to be here. Not everybody gets a chance to compete in the Olympics. It’s massive. Everyone back home holds the Olympics higher than the majors. I’m just humbled to be here.”

Jazz competed in the 2010 Asia Pacific Amateur Championship at Kasumigaseki as a 14-year-old but has no recollection of his time at the historic venue. It was the same event that saw Hideki Matsuyama of Japan claim a five-stroke victory which propelled his golf career on the PGA TOUR. Matsuyama, the reigning Masters champion, will carry Japan’s golden hopes this week.

THOMASTOWN, IRELAND – JULY 01: Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand tees off on the fourth hole during Day One of The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet Golf Club on July 01, 2021 in Thomastown, Ireland. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

“I can’t remember much but it is good to be back,” said Jazz. “The course looks really nice, and the greens are pure. I played on the Japan Tour in 2019 and hope I can use my experience for this week. It’s just amazing to have the Thai flag on my shirt. I turned professional early so I didn’t have a chance to represent Thailand too much although we do it when we’re on Tour. But it’s not quite like this. This is different. We’re playing for Thailand and words can’t explain how it feels to be doing this.”

Gunn reckons the par-71, 7,447-yard Kasumigaseki’s East course could produce low scores with how conditions are set up. “This is a pretty long course,” he said. “With the weather forecast, the fairway might get softer and we’ll have long irons in. Some greens are really undulating too and you have to put your ball in the right spots to give yourself chances. The greens are soft and you can go really low. It could be 20 under and better.”

Featured photo: Credits to International Golf Feberation (IGF)

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A lack of form is not deterring Malaysian golfer and 2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Gavin Green from dreaming of winning an Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 medal when the men’s golf competition begins at Kasumigaseki Country Club from Thursday.

The 27-year-old admits his game has been stuck in the rough due to a combination of factors but feels he is on the verge of a resurgence as he prepares to go head-to-head against many of the game’s global stars.

“Of course, I dream about it (winning a medal). I just keep telling myself if I can play well and things click, anything can happen. It’s tough to say I want to win a gold medal as the field is so deep. You just keep practicing hard and sooner or later, it will happen. You just need to stay patient,” said Green.

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN – JUNE 11: Gavin Green of Malaysia tees off on the 13th hole during the second round of The Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik and Annika at Vallda Golf & Country Club on June 11, 2021 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

He has missed 11 cuts from 14 starts on the European Tour this season which is hardly the preparation for a second appearance in the Olympic Games following his debut in Rio in 2016. However, he believes he is turning the corner as he seeks to regain his best form.

“I don’t know what happened. Starting this year, it deteriorated bit by bit. You’ve got to get yourself out of the hole and it’s funny the scores reflect worse than what it actually is. I’ve been working quite a bit, and we’ve had to make a few changes to my swing due my wrist issues and to find consistency off the tee. I’m grinding and the goal will be to swing freely and enjoy playing golf again. I feel positive,” he said.

“I don’t think I’ve gone through something like this before. My game was always about getting better every year. It’s a new experience and a learning curve for sure. Once I get myself out of this slump, then I’ll know what to do the next time. All top players go through this,” added Green, whose father Gary will caddie for him this week.

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN – JUNE 11: Gavin Green of Malaysia looks down the 13th hole during the second round of The Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik and Annika at Vallda Golf & Country Club on June 11, 2021 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Despite the current state of his game, the long-hitting Green believes he is a far better golfer now compared to 2016 where he finished 47th in a field of 60 golfers in Rio. He knows it will take four really good rounds at the historic Kasumigaseki Country Club to give himself a chance of a podium finish.

“I think I’ve matured over the last four years. Being in Europe, you learn more about course management. Playing with strong players and in different weather conditions, you learn to adapt. I’ve gotten stronger in this area. And my mindset now is also to not put too much pressure on myself. I’m learning and always trying to improve and that’s not just about hitting golf balls at the range.

“I don’t think the gold medal is far away for Malaysia but at the same time, it’s not close. There are lot of things we can do as a country, and more people need to support golf.”

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – JANUARY 16: A detail of the Olympic rings tattoo of Gavin Green of Malaysia during Day One of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 16, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Like many other Olympians, Green had the Olympic rings tattooed below his right arm to remind him of his journey in the game. He was an outstanding amateur golfer and attended the University of New Mexico in the U.S. before turning professional.

“It (tattoo) brings back good memories and it reminds me of all the hard work that I went through to get to Rio,” said Green. “The timeline I had to make it to Rio was so limited and I made it right on the number (60th). It means a lot to me.

“The Olympics is a different kind of event and we got to see all the other sports in Rio and being around other athletes. As a golfer you never get to do that. For you to experience that and see how they work, it was cool. We got to watch Usain Bolt win the 100m race and we were right at the finish line and it was something else. To see the crowds going crazy and Usain doing his move, it was amazing.

“In Rio, it was more of an experience of being there. Now I want to compete. My mindset will be different.”

Featured photo: Credits to International Golf Feberation (IGF)

Published on July 23, 2021

Wooden clubs and mud greens, Indian Open champ C. Muniyappa lockdown innovations. By Robin Bose from thegolfinghub.com, in India.

C. Muniyappa, the 2009 Hero Indian Open champion, grew up learning golf on mud greens with handcrafted clubs. The setting used to be agricultural fields in his village before he moved to pristine championship courses like the Karnataka Golf Association in Bengaluru, his regular practice venue. But unknown to him then, staying connected to his village, called Poolampatti in the nearby state of Tamil Nadu, would help him many years down at a time when life and golf came to a standstill.

Since the pandemic struck last year, the visits to the village to escape the scourge of the virus were also used to stay sharp, albeit the traditional way. Muniyappa got little time to plan before the first visit and arrived in the village without his regular clubs save the odd iron and had to make do with ones carved out of the branches of a tamarind tree. It was nothing new for Muniyappa as access and affordability was not easy in the formative years. The clubs were improvised alright but in sync with the three mud greens he created last year in a portion of the land owned by his uncle.

He was better prepared this time and anticipating the second wave in late March moved to the village with a better ensemble of conventional clubs a week after the Professional Golf Tour of India got stalled again. Practice was on the mind, but also on the agenda was building a base for the family. Work on both projects started alongside and though it will be a while before the house is ready, Muniyappa was up and about with practice in no time.

Two-and-quarter acres were earmarked for the makeshift mini golf course, and it took Muniyappa and his sons Kiran (16) and Prem (10) about two days to get the facility ready. Making use of the hilly terrain to increase the difficulty quotient, two mud greens of 150 and 120 yards have been created at a higher level while the third measuring 140 yards is on a lower gradient. Irons and a sand wedge come into use here, and since the putter broke during practice, a 9-iron is being used as a makeshift putter along with a wooden one.

Through April and a portion of May, Muniyappa practiced hard, but just as the connect with the past was getting stronger, he was laid low by body ache and high fever. Given the times, it was a scare till medical reports confirmed dengue. A month went by without practice, and though yet to gain full strength, Muniyappa is getting back to the old schedule.

A typical day starts at 7am with an hour-long session of stretching, pull-ups, yoga and breathing exercises. Depending on the intensity of the sun, practice happens early in the morning or between 4-6.30 pm. Work starts from the makeshift range which allows a carry of 230 yards. Excited village kids wait at the other end to collect the balls, and for the odd golf ball as a giveaway after Muniyappa is done.

The action then shifts to the tight mini course. Teeing off amid lush green foliage, chipping and putting is a test of skill given the rocky and potholed terrain. But Muniyappa swears by it and claims the experience makes putting in tournaments seem like child’s play. Given the small coverage area, the exercise is repeated 4-5 times. As for the score, it mostly hovers around 1-2-over. The best he has managed till date is 1-under and that is a source of encouragement to keep at it in the hope when tournaments resume this unconventional practice drill will hold in good stead.



Published on July 21, 2021

The XXXII Olympiad is finally here, with the opening ceremony taking place on Friday, and next week will see the men’s golf tournament tee-off at Kasumigaseki Country Club. To whet your appetite, we look back at Rio 2016 ‒ when Justin Rose won gold in such glorious fashion.

Justin Rose’s exuberant fist pump celebration after holing the winning putt was one of the many lasting memories from Rio 2016.

Sadly, the Englishman did not make the Great Britain team for Tokyo, but he set the bar for Olympic golf in terms of passion and performance.

He became golf’s first Olympic champion since 1904 by overcoming friend and Ryder Cup partner Henrik Stenson from Sweden in a thrilling final round at the Olympic Golf Course.

Rose, 36 years old at the time, was level with Stenson on 15 under par after 17 holes but the Swede bogeyed the last while Rose sank a birdie putt to win by two shots.

The 2013 US Open champion closed with a four-under-par 67 to win on 16 under.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 14: Henrik Stenson (R) of Sweden congratulates Justin Rose of Great Britain as Rose celebrates winning in the final round of men’s golf on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Golf Course on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Stenson ‒ who two months earlier had claimed The Open ‒ took silver with a 68, while American Matt Kuchar carded a 63 to claim bronze on 13 under.

“That felt better than anything I’ve ever won,” said Rose.

“It was the best tournament I’ve ever done. Hopefully, we have shown Brazil what golf is about. I’m glad it was close. Not for my nerves, for golf.”

Rose had relished the prospect of becoming an Olympian since the moment the sport’s return to the Games was confirmed in 2009.

Such was his eagerness to be part of the experience, he arrived the week before the Olympics officially started to ensure he was part of the opening ceremony.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about Rio for a long, long time. I’ve been dreaming about coming here for a few years now. I was hoping my ranking would allow me to compete in the Olympic Games.

“I came here in good form, and I felt excited about competing, excited about giving it 100%. Then, when I actually got down to Rio and experienced the whole vibe of the Olympics, to come out of it with a medal is incredible. To come out of it with gold, unbelievable.”

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 14: Justin Rose (C) of Great Britain celebrates with the gold medal, Henrik Stenson (L) of Sweden, silver medal, and Matt Kuchar of the United States, bronze medal, after the final round of men’s golf on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Golf Course on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

The Englishman made history by hitting Olympic golf’s first hole-in-one in the opening round and started Sunday with a one-shot lead, before shooting four birdies and just one bogey on his outward nine.

Stenson carded birdies in four of his first 10 holes and drew level with Rose when the leader dropped a shot on the 13th.

It looked like a play-off would be needed to separate them, but Rose held his nerve on the par-five last, chipping his approach to two feet from the hole, while Stenson’s spun away to around 20 feet.

The Swede then raced his birdie putt eight feet past the hole and missed the return to allow Rose the luxury of two putts for victory. He needed just the one.

Earlier, Stenson had been forced to summon the trainer to help with back issues on the 14th hole, which left him face down on the tee for a brief spell. He went on to bogey the hole.

“I didn’t make the best swings there for a little while, but it wasn’t hindering me too much,” Stenson said. “But it’s not something you plan to have worked on out on the course.

“It did kind of put me out of rhythm a little bit, but I was still there till the end. It was just down to whoever made a birdie on the last, otherwise we would have been out for a play-off.”

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat competes in the men’s individual stroke play at the Olympic Golf course during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016. / AFP / Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

A total of 14 Asian Tour members competed in Rio, with several players excelling: in particular, Australian Marcus Fraser and Kiradech Aphibarnrat from Thailand tied for fifth, just eight shots behind Rose. Fraser, in fact, led after day one and two.

But more than the performances it was the Olympic experience that was remembered the most by the Asian Tour players who competed.

Bangladesh star Siddikur Rahman was the flag bearer for his country, Brazil’s Adilson da Silva was the first player to tee off in the first round, and Malaysian Gavin Green, inspired by the occasion, promptly got an Olympic tattoo on his arm when he returned home.