Tag: black mountain

Matteo the World Golfer

Matteo the World Golfer

Matteo Manassero’s been in Asia, the Middle East, off to the States, then to Europe and now back in Asia all since January.

I caught up with him this week at the Maybank Malaysian Open where he had arrived on Monday to really taken in playing back on the slower greens.IMG_1467

I first asked Matteo what were his recollections of playing in his first Royal Trophy?

‘It was amazing. Nobody expected us to win and we as a team were on a high and felt we could win. Everything went right from the beginning actually, and we were up after three holes right to the end. It was fantastic really!’

That was Matteo’s first time in Thailand and he told me he really enjoyed the trip.

‘I enjoyed staying in Hua Hin and I liked Thailand. Everyone there does not have any problems, and you don’t see anger in Thailand. Everyone is smiling and that’s what makes Thailand such a great place.’

I then asked him what he thought about playing at Black Mountain.

‘I think it is a good course. It was fantastic. It was always in good condition and is a well shaped course and the greens are pure. The shape of a course is what makes a great course. It’s quite a long course but I enjoyed that week. The par 3 hole 11 is fantastic with the lake and it is one of the tough holes there. I know Johan Edfors and a few of the other guys actual practice there in the winter and it is definitely a good idea.’

Compared with us weekend golfers and even the Asian Tour players, you guys at the Royal Trophy were getting onto the greens on a few of the par 4’s.

‘Yes we were able to get close with the following wind, so it was worth the go,’ he told me.

Finally I asked him if he plans to keep Asia on his schedule in the future.

‘Yes definitely. I am a great fan of a worldwide tour, as you want to play in Europe, the States, the Middle East and here in Asia. If there is a chance of playing a Worldwide Tour that would be good. It is just a great experience.’

He’s currently ranked 57 in the World and with a good showing in KL where he lead the first round Matteo could be soon in the top 50 at the age of 17 years old.

 

Major Winners in Asia

Major Winners in Asia

Sometimes everything just falls into place and as a journalist, all the travelling and waiting around just pays off.

Being based here in Bangkok, the big names on the professional circuit tend to side step playing in our local tournaments, perhaps with the exception of the popular Royal Trophy.

Therefore twice a year I need to stock up with pictures and stories by covering the bigger events here in Asia. On Tuesday I therefore flew to Kuala Lumpur.

This week was very unusual, as the 50th running of the Maybank Malaysian Open could almost be termed as the Asian Major, having attracted three out of this year’s Major winners to participate.

World number 1 Martin Kaymer and British Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, were invited some time ago by the sponsors, along with a certain Rory McIlroy.

Then much to the delight of the tournament organisers, Charl Schwartzel, who had actually been scheduled to play anyway, won last weekend the coveted green jacket, and the Maybank’s global TV audience had now skyrocketed. Great for the sponsors, even better for Asian golf!

In the space of 20 minutes last Wednesday at the KLGCC, I managed to grab all three Major winners for a quick interview. As they had all flown from Augusta, they were naturally all jet lagged, but were genuinely keen to get out on the course.

Both Charl and Rory travel over together from Augusta, and the airline had managed to lose their clubs; therefore both were starting their first rounds without even seeing the course before. Reminds me of all us weekend golfers who turn up and play at the 280 Thai golf courses without even having the yardage books or even a reliable caddie!

All three told me that they had played before in Asia, and in fact Martin had made his first cut here IMG_1513 in Asia in 2007, earning him his first pay check. Fond memories!

So far Thailand was still to be tested by them, but Martin certainly was keen to play and jokingly said ‘send me an invitation.’ He knew all about the end of season Asian Tour Masters and the Royal Trophy, and his manager admitted it would make a good end of season break for the World No 1. Maybe Black Mountain or Colin Montgomerie should take note?

The media circus then moved on and they were back on duty playing in the Pro Am.

This is a great time for me to grab those relaxed photos of the stars, so I managed to get a Media Golf Cart and waited at the start.

One of the organisers ran up and said would I mind taking a caddie and his player to the first tee, as they were late. Yes I said, and who should sit down next to me but Craig, Martin Kaymer’s Scottish caddie along with the great man’s golf bag. Martin hung onto the back and off we went for the four minute ride.

If only I had someone free to take a picture!

Not to miss an opportunity, when we got to the first tee, instead of a tip, I cheekily asked if I could have a picture with Martin. Craig the caddie turned photographer and duly obliged. Result was me the Editor with Number 1 …my own personal scoop!

As I say some days it all just falls into place. If Martin does fly over to play in Black Mountain in the next few years then I will have done the job and Thailand can experience why he is World Number One.

Westwood to join Jaidee in Asia

Westwood to join Jaidee in Asia

Asian golf legend and three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand will compete in the inaugural US$750,000 Indonesian Masters next month, joining world number two Lee Westwood of England in the elite field at Royale Jakarta Golf Club.

22_VMA06_Winner_Thongchai Jaidee_resize Organisers announced today that PNTS, one of Indonesia’s fastest growing off shore bulk cargo handling companies, Garuda Indonesia, the national flag carrier, and Mercedes-Benz have also signed up as sponsors of Indonesia’s newest Asian Tour tournament from April 21 to 24, 2011.

Normally if you are planning to catch the stars playing in Asia, they only used to fly here at the beginning of the season. Now as Asia is seen as the growing market, more and more sponsors are prepared to open their cheque books, and there are now several tournaments in the spring and autumn.

 Black Mountain here in Thailand has hosted two championships in the past quarter, and there are several Asian Tour and One Asia tournament due in Thailand shortly.

India’s rising star Gaganjeet Bhullar, a two-time Asian Tour champion and no stranger to success in Indonesia, and Thai standout Chapchai Nirat, a three-time winner, will also feature in the Indonesian Masters which will be beamed live throughout four rounds to over 40 countries and 440 million homes worldwide.

After writing several pages in Asian golf history with his exploits, Thongchai is determined to become the inaugural champion of the Indonesian Masters.

“I am looking forward to the Indonesian Masters next month, especially when it will be played at Royale Jakarta. I have heard it is a fantastic golf course and I believe it will contribute to a very successful week of golf,” said Thongchai.

 The 41-year-old Thai is presently the most successful golfer in Asia following an unprecedented three Order of Merit triumphs in 2001, 2004 and 2009. He also holds the most number of victories on the Asian Tour with 13 titles and is the leader of the career earnings ranking with over US$4 million in winnings since breaking into the scene in 1999.

 In 12 seasons on the Asian Tour, the former paratrooper has finished outside the top-10 of the merit list only twice to cement his reputation as one of the most consistent performers on the region’s elite circuit.

“I owe my success very much to the Asian Tour and it is tremendous to see new tournaments like the Indonesian Masters coming up on our Schedule. I will always support the Asian Tour,” said Thongchai.

 Thongchai is perhaps Thailand’s number one ambassador promoting golf in the kingdom wherever he goes around the globe.

 ‘I love to come home and experience some of the great variety of golf courses across Thailand. And of course with our wonderful caddies you cannot beat their infectious smiles’ said Thongchai.

Thailand Golf Attracts the Big Stars

Thailand Golf Attracts the Big Stars

Most countries are lucky if they can attract one major golf tournament a year. Thailand on the other hand seems to be able to host more than its fair share of major golf events.

In November a certain Mr Tiger Woods made an emotional return to his mother country along with Casey and co. Then along came the Asian Tours Masters in December followed in early January by the Royal Trophy both hosted at Black Mountain in Hua Hin.

Honda-lpga Now the 2011 season is about to start with most of the top 50 woman in the World competing in the Honda LPGA at the Siam Country Club in Pattaya in mid February.

Paula Creamer, Michelle Wei, Shin Jiyai and defending champion Ai Miyazato will all be there along with a few Thai girls trying to earn some big bucks.

Also in February Amata Spring Country Club will become the first Thai venue to host Open Championship International Final Qualifying Asia from February 24-25, 2011.

The Club will welcome a field of a maximum of 78 players, who will compete for four places in the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's.

  Royal-trophy-2011-monty "Amata Spring is a fitting venue for IFQ's first visit to Thailand," said R&A Director, Michael Tate. "In its short history, it has proven itself a stern test for some of the world's best players, and it will undoubtedly give us four qualifiers worthy of their place at Royal St George's."

The closing date for entries is 14 February. Last year, Asian Tour members Hiroyuki Fujita of Japan, Malaysia's Danny Chia and newly-crowned Order of Merit champion Noh Seung-yul of Korea qualified for the Open.

Later on in June the Queens Cup, part of the Asian Tour, returns to Santiburi Country Club on the beautiful island of Koi Samui.

Thailand is now recognised as the perfect destination to host major golf championships, and the players enjoy their time in the Kingdom of smiles as well.

Mike Bridge   Editor Thai Golf News

Media Scrum at Royal Trophy Press Conference!

Media Scrum at Royal Trophy Press Conference!

Interest in the Royal Trophy is already extremely high, with over 250 journalists from Europe and Asia keen to get their pictures and stories, at yesterday’s press conference.

Although Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie OBE is here in Thailand, along with a host of top stars, the media’s attention was focused on super star Rio Ishikawa, the Japanese pin up boy.IMG_6826

In 2010 Rio made a World record closing round of 12 under par 58 and is returning to represent Asia at the Royal Trophy for a third successive time, and he is still only 19 years old.

Europe not to be out done, have invited their very own super kid, Italy’s Matteo Manassero. Matteo won his first European Tour title at just 17 years old, claiming the Castello Masters last October. He was also recently named European Tour’s Rookie of the Year 2010.

Latest team news is that Eduardo Molinari has had to pull out of the European Team due to injury and Fredrik Andersson Hed has flown in last night to take his place.

Peter Hanson, Thomas Bjorn, Johan Edfors, Matteo Manassero, Henrik Stenson, Pablo Martin and Rhys Davies make up the rest of Monty’s team.

Asia has ten of their players in Thailand to choose from, as Jeev Milka Singh is still recovering from a back injury. He told the media yesterday that he would eventually decide if he was fit to join the team after today’s pro am at Black Mountain Hua Hin.

Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, who is the only player to have taken part in every Royal Trophy match said’ He felt that the Hua Hin course was tougher than last year’s host Amatar Spring Golf Club, and that everyone will need to be aware of some of the greens.’

European team member Rhys Davies from Wales, who is known as the World’s Best Putter, maybe has an advantage, but everyone is predicting a very close fight to the finish on Sunday January 9th at Black Mountain Hua Hin.

The enormous media interest in this event is great for sponsors Tourist Authority of Thailand, as it is promoting golf in Thailand to the masses of fans around the World.