With the penultimate stretch of the season now concluded, I am pleased to see many strong performances from our members over a two-month stretch where the Asian Tour was in full swing in seven out of the eight weeks.
We also sanctioned five Asian Development Tour (ADT) events over a similar period which has been highlighted by several notable performances from the likes of Joohyung Kim (Tommy) and Naoki Sekito who will undoubtably be playing on the Asian Tour regularly in the near future.
Starting in August, the Asian Tour began the second half schedule with our stop in East Malaysia where the second edition of the Sarawak Championship saw our top-two players on the Habitat for Humanity Standings Jazz Janewattananond and Scott Hend join a strong field.
The tournament concluded in dramatic fashion with Andrew Dodt emerging victorious in a play-off over Richard T. Lee, who made a spectacular eagle on the 72nd hole courtesy of a three-wood second shot which is arguably the shot of the year so far.
The Sarawak Economic Development Corp was the major sponsor of the event and was very pleased with the media attention the event received.
We then headed to the Pondok Indah Golf Course in Jakarta where the Indonesia Golf Association graciously hosts the Bank BRI Indonesia Open every year.
Needless to say, the location in the heart of the city is always one of our most popular Tour stops. The weekend would see a home-grown product of the Indonesia Golf Association – Naraajie E. Ramadhanputra set the pace and take a commanding six-shot lead into the final round but Argentinian Miguel Carballo would outlast the youngster down the stretch.
Miguel produced an outstanding display of consistency and made only one bogey the entire tournament on his way to lifting the trophy. Understandably, the Indonesian crowd was left disappointed but yet optimistic about the future of Indonesian golf.
We would then jump to Chinese Taipei for the 10th edition of the Yeangder TPC which saw one of our in-form members Yikeun Chang come out on top following a dominant display where he fended off the ever-present challengers from Chinese Taipei. Yikeun’s victory in Taipei was a validation of his outstanding season, where he had finished runner-up in Indonesia the week before his breakthrough.
On the tournament development side, we were delighted to see the Classic Golf & Country Club host their first Asian Tour event in a decade. 10 years on from our last visit, the course has matured well and was presented in outstanding condition together with a new clubhouse and facilities.
The Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship was a joint initiative between the host venue and the Asian Tour which brought a new event onto the schedule and crowned the first ever Indonesian winner on Tour – Rory Hie. We look forward to returning to the same venue in November for the Panasonic Open India.
The Shinhan Donghae Open broke new ground by becoming the first ever tri-sanctioned event in Korea with the inclusion of the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) this year. The logic behind this exercise was for Shinhan Financial Group to do their part by helping to ease the recently reported trade tension between Korea and Japan and using sports as a medium.
This was a landmark event for all the stakeholders involved and it was deemed a great success. On the golfing side, South Africa’s Jbe Kruger produced a masterclass in tough Sunday conditions to pip Chan Kim and Scott Vincent who have been racking up top-three finishes at the Bear’s Best Golf Course.
The magnificently manicured Higashi Hirono Golf Club in Kobe would see out the 2018-19 Panasonic Swing which was made up of five events in Asia, including the 2018 Thailand Open, 2018 Panasonic Open India, 2018 BNI Indonesian Masters and the 2019 Maybank Championship, before culminating at the Panasonic Open Golf Championship in its new September date.
The sponsors could not have asked for more befitting finale with Jazz Janewattananond needing to birdie one of his last two holes to finish in top spot ahead of Poom Saksansin and Panuphol Pittayarat. Toshinori Muto collected a very deserved first Asian Tour title, shooting back to back 64s on the weekend. We are also currently in discussions with our Japan Tour counterparts to collaborate on several new co-sanctioned events in the future.
The week of the 33rd Mercuries Taiwan Masters got off to a slightly rocky start with Monday being abandoned due to an impending typhoon. Luckily there was little impact and the tournament resumed as normal with the pro-am and tournament proper enjoying ideal weather conditions.
Defending champion Adilson Da Silva put up a valiant title defence along with Miguel Tabuena and Ajeetesh Sandhu who would come up just one shot shy of eventual winner Suradit Yongcharoenchai. Suradit now joins the list of maiden winners this season which also include Zach Murray, Sadom Kaewkanjana, Miguel Carballo, Rory Hie, Taehee Lee, Yosuke Asaji and Toshinori Muto.
WGC-HSBC Champions & CJ CUP
In other noteworthy achievements, we have reached the end of our qualifying period for the WGC-HSBC Champions which sees the top four players from a cumulative 12-month money list, from November 2018 to present, automatically qualify. They are namely Jazz Janewattananond, Scott Hend, Jbe Kruger and Masahiro Kawamura.
The CJ Cup @Nine Bridges in Korea next week also gives exemptions for our Merit leader Jazz and the leading Korean on our Habitat for Humanity Standings – Taehee Lee. We wish all our members the best of luck in the three lucrative PGA TOUR and WGC events in October. They are a great opportunity to earn substantial OWGR points and FedEx Cup points not to mention the high prize purses!
Thai Country Club – Host venue of the 2019 Thailand Open
We now take a well- deserved break before resuming with the Thailand Open in early November where the Tour will be in full flow until right before Christmas.