When the DP World Tour’s Asian Swing kicks off in neighbouring Singapore this week before journeying to Thailand and India, it will serve as a massive boon to the region’s aspiring golfers, including Malaysia’s very own Gavin Green, who hold dreams of chasing history and legacy.

In the past, Asian greats including Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, Zhang Lian-wei of China and India’s Arjun Atwal had notched historic wins for their respective nations in DP World Tour-sanctioned tournaments across Asia, and reaped immediate rewards by earning playing rights in what was formerly known as the European Tour.

The stakes will be so much higher now as a total of 10 PGA Tour cards will be up for grabs on the DP World Tour in 2023 for the crème de la crème to gain direct entry to the pinnacle of the men’s professional game.

“It’s a great motivation and definitely something to play for,” said Green, who will tee up at Laguna National Golf Club this week. “Being in Asia, it’s like going back to my roots. Being this close to home, I feel comfortable. I’m still working on my game and some things have yet to click, but I’m working hard for these next three events. It’ll be nice to give myself a chance.”

“The 10 PGA Tour cards is good,” added Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who spent five years on the PGA Tour before losing his status last season. “This creates opportunities for a new generation of golfers to play on a higher tour. As for me, I’m trying to play decent golf again on the DP World Tour, maybe win a couple and then get back onto the PGA Tour,” added the 33-year-old, whose four DP World Tour wins include two in Asia.

The strengthening of a Strategic Alliance between the DP World Tour and PGA Tour, which was initially formed in 2020, has created clear career pathways for the likes of China’s Wu Ashun and Li Haotong, India’s Shubhankar Sharma, Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura and Jeunghun Wang of Korea, all regulars on the DP World Tour, to shoot for their American dreams. Even the likes of Singapore’s 23-year-old amateur Ryan Ang, who tees up in this week’s US$2 million Singapore Classic at Laguna National Golf Club, may fancy a shot at the big league. After all, it only takes one week in pro golf for a player’s life to be transformed.

“I think it is a great opportunity for players,” said 26-year-old Sharma, who holds two victories on the DP World Tour and finished 29th in the Race to Dubai ranking last season. “Getting onto the PGA Tour has been the dream for most players. It is the biggest tour in the world, so this alliance between the DP World Tour and PGA Tour could be a huge game-changer.”

China already has Marty Dou and Carl Yuan plying their trade full-time on the PGA Tour after graduating from the Korn Ferry Tour in the US, and countrymen Li and Wu are hoping to join them via the DP World Tour route. In 2018, Li finished ninth in the Race to Dubai ranking and holds three career wins on the DP World Tour.

"This year, a lot of players will target for that, including me,” said the 37-year-old Wu, who is competing in Singapore this week alongside Li. “I have a chance. I have been doing well and I trained well in the off-season,” added the four-time DP World Tour winner as he seeks to emulate countrymen Zhang and Liang Wen-chong — who both won in Singapore previously.

With other Strategic Alliances forged recently between the DP World Tour/PGA Tour and Japan Golf Tour, Korean PGA Tour, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) and PGA of Australia, players from the various domestic circuits will now enjoy various pathways onto the DP World Tour, and subsequently have a legitimate chance to get onto the PGA Tour so long as they can perform at the highest level.

Kiradech, who was once ranked as high as 29th in the world, plans to maintain Bangkok as his home base as he seeks to regain his best form. During his five-year stint in the US, the amiable Thai had a tough time adjusting to life away being from his family.

“Staying at home now, it’s amazing. I’ve got family around me all the time … it’s our culture, we stick together, eating, spending time together and staying in the same area. I can also spend more time with my cars,” said Kiradech, a well-known lover of fast cars.

With the Thailand Classic being played at Amata Spring Country Club from February 16-19, the burly Thai, who was once dubbed Asia’s John Daly for his grip-it-and-rip-it style of play, hopes to get back onto the winning trail at his home course.

“I’m looking forward to playing in my own country as there will be a lot of support from fans and family members,” he added.

Sharma hopes to see more Indian golfers joining him on the DP World Tour after compatriot Manu Gandas become the first PGTI player to earn a tour card through the new alliance, which benefits include the launch of two new Challenge Tour events in India along with the staging of the Hero Indian Open later this month.

“The DP World Tour’s alliance with the Indian (PGTI) Tour for the winner of the Order of Merit could be a game changer. There will also be spots in Qualifying School. This means over the next two to three years, we will have more Indians with a card on the DP World Tour,” said Sharma. 

 

Chuah Choo Chiang (the writer) is senior director, marketing & communications – APAC for the PGA Tour and is based in Malaysia.

Rising talents Muhammad Fakhrul Akmal and Paul San shared first-place honours in the 2023 Professional Golf Association of Malaysia (PGAM) Satellite Tour’s first leg, held at Danau Golf Club today.

Akmal and San carded identical 68s to reach the top of the professional leaderboard in the season opener. Three shots behind the winning duo at joint third with matching 71s were M. Sasidaran and U Minn Woon.

As young professional talents, Akmal came close to clinching his very first Professional Golf Malaysia (PGM) Tour title at the 2022 season-ending PGM Danau Championship last December, while this will be San’s fifth PGAM Satellite Tour title to date.

In the amateur category, Edward Sanders finished first at one-over par 73. Following in tied second were Nasrullah Zulkifli and Sapuan Nonan at two-over par 74.

Results (Top 5 and ties)
Professional
68 - Muhammad Fakhrul Akmal, Paul San
71 - M. Sasidaran, U Minn Woon
72 - Azmi Hashim, Chan Soo Keong

Amateur
73 - Edward Sanders
74 - Nasrullah Zulkifli, Sapuan Nonan
76 - Mohd Adzrienn Fariss, Muhammad Amir Luqman

Professional golf in Malaysia will reach new heights when the 2023 Toyota Tour tees off from early March with a nationwide trek across some of the country’s leading golf courses.

This year’s much-awaited season starts with the PGM Tun Ahmad Sarji Trophy at Saujana Golf & Country Club on March 8-11, followed by eight more closed tournaments including stops in Sarawak and Sabah. The 2023 Toyota Tour will culminate with the Toyota Championship at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC) on November 14-17, which will be a co-sanctioned event with the Asian Development Tour (ADT).

The Toyota Tour is the result of a tri-party agreement between the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour, UMW Toyota Motor as the Naming Partner and MST Golf as the Delivery Agency. The PGM Tour was formed in 2010 by the late Tun Ahmad Sarji and has been a vital cog in the wheel of Malaysian golf since then.

The PGM Tun Ahmad Sarji Trophy will offer RM230,000 in total prizemoney, with RM200,000 allocated for the men’s event and RM30,000 for the ladies. The eight other closed tournaments will each offer total prizemoney of 210,000 with RM180,000 allocated for the men’s event and RM30,000 for the ladies’ championship.

The field for each closed tournament will consist of Malaysian professionals who hold PGM Tour cards, along with dedicated slots for the country’s leading amateurs as well sponsor’s invitations. Apart from the Tun Ahmad Sarji Trophy, each tournament will be named after a Toyota vehicle model.

The Toyota Championship meanwhile will boast a whopping RM350,000 prize pot with a mixed field comprising players from the Toyota Tour and some of the region’s leading golfers from the ADT, along with sponsor’s invitations.Promising young golfer Nor Heikal Hadi in action

In addition to the main events, there will be two Toyota Tour Qualifying Tournaments for players who do not hold tour cards. The first Qualifying Tournament is set for February 21-23 at Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam and the second will be held at Palm Resort Golf& Country Club on September 12-14.

“The 2023 Toyota Tour certainly sets the stage for an exciting year for golf in Malaysia. I am sure our professional golfers will make full use of this opportunity to elevate their games and we look forward to crowning the inaugural Toyota Tour Order of Merit winner at the end of the season,” said PGM Tour Acting Chairman Tan Sri Dato' Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman during the Toyota Tour Calendar Launch at KLGCC on February 7.

“The partnership with the ADT for the season-ending Toyota Championship will also provide an avenue for our professionals to progress to the regional circuits and beyond,” added Tan Sri Hamad.

UMW Toyota Motor President Datuk Ravindran K. stressed that the Toyota Tour reflects the company’s relentless drive for perfection. “As a mobility company we support initiatives that encourage us to push our limits. The Toyota Tour is a welcome addition as we see a lot of synergy between golf and Toyota.

“At Toyota, we are driven by passion and continuous improvement, for instance fine tuning small details to get the best performance. This drive for perfection is also present in golf and is something we want to support,” said Datuk Ravindran K.

MST Golf Chief Executive Officer Ng Yap lauded UMW Toyota Motor for investing in golf and the professional game. “We are very pleased that the Toyota Tour is coming to fruition to continue the legacy of the late Tun Ahmad Sarji. We thank and applaud UMW Toyota Motor for investing in the golf industry and having the foresight to use golf as part of Toyota’s brand communications platform,” he said.

“As part of MST Golf’s role as the Delivery Agency, we are elevating the tournament standard and experience in line with Toyota’s objectives. We will also create greater synergy with amateur golfers and the amateur game through our strong industry position and extensive reach to golf consumers via our retail chain stores and ilovegolf membership. Our overall aim is to create a stronger and more sustainable golf industry,” added Ng Yap.

The calendar launch was followed by a pro-am game at KLGCC’s East Course which saw some of Malaysia’s leading professionals team up with invited guests in a Modified Scramble format. The professionals included two-time Asian Tour winner Danny Chia, Amir Nazrin who just last week became the first Malaysian to win on the All Thailand Golf Tour, and rising star Ervin Chang, along with lady professionals Ainil Bakar, Michelle Koh and Nur Durriyah Damian.

The pro-am gave participants a preview of the excitement of a Toyota Tour event, including an outdoor hospitality area where golfers enjoyed food, refreshments, shoulder massages and music.

 

Toyota Tour Calendar 2023 

Date

Tournament

Venue

Prize Money

Feb 21-23

Qualifying School Leg 1

Kelab Golf Perkhidmatan Awam, Kuala Lumpur

RM15,000

Mar 8-11

PGM Tun Ahmad Sarji Trophy

Saujana Golf & Country Club, Selangor

RM230,000
Men – RM200,000
Ladies - RM30,000

May 2-4

Mirai Cup

Sarawak Golf Club

RM210,000
Men – RM180,000
Ladies - RM30,000

May 16-18

Hilux Cup

Sabah Golf & Country Club

RM210,000
Men – RM180,000
Ladies - RM30,000

June 20-22

Vios Cup

Templer Park Country Club, Selangor

RM210,000
Men – RM180,000
Ladies - RM30,000

July 11-13

Corolla Cup

Royal Perak Golf Club

RM210,000
Men – RM180,000
Ladies - RM30,000

July 25-27

Supra Cup

The Mines Resort & Golf Club, Selangor

RM210,000
Men – RM180,000
Ladies - RM30,000

Aug 8-10

Alphard Cup

Palm Garden Golf Club, Putrajaya

RM210,000
Men – RM180,000
Ladies - RM30,000

Sept 12-14

Qualifying School Leg 2

Palm Resort Golf & Country Club, Johor

RM210,000
Men – RM180,000
Ladies - RM30,000

Oct 3-5

Camry Cup

Forest City Golf Resort, Johor

RM210,000
Men – RM180,000
Ladies - RM30,000

Oct 17-19

Corolla Cross Cup

Kota Seriemas Golf & Country Club, Negeri Sembilan

RM210,000
Men – RM180,000
Ladies - RM30,000

Nov 14-17

Toyota Championship

Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club*

RM350,000

The Aramco Team Series will return in 2023 on the Ladies European Tour with Singapore its first stop, as an array of the world’s best players are set the feature once again.

2022 saw the Aramco Team Series go to new heights and this year’s edition will begin in a similar fashion as world number one Lydia Ko has confirmed her attendance at Laguna National Golf Resort Club.

The New Zealander was the youngest player to be ranked number one in golf when she reached the top of golf’s standings in 2017 – at just 17-years-old. She returned to the top of the pile in December eclipsing Nelly Korda as the No 1 player in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings. This is the third time Ko, who notched three LPGA Tour victories and nine other top-five finishes in 2022, has been the best player on the planet.

Ko will appear in her first ever Aramco Team Series event at Laguna National Golf Resort Club and is excited to tee it up in such a unique and innovative format. The 25-year-old commented: “I am really looking forward to playing my first Aramco Team Series event in Singapore after hearing such good things from players on both the LPGA and LET.

“From the outside it seems like a really fun week to be a part of with both the team and individual elements to play for and the set up both on and off the golf course being outstanding. I am looking forward to teeing it up at Laguna National in March and being a part of a golf tournament that offers something completely different to the norm.”

Noah Ali Reza, newly appointed CEO of Golf Saudi is thrilled by the return of the Aramco Team Series and excited to be taking the tournament to a completely new venue.

He added: “The Aramco Team Series events have gone from strength to strength since their inception and provide an exceptional experience both on and off the golf course for the best female golfers in the world.

“It is exciting to be heading to a new venue in Laguna National Golf Resort Club, it looks an incredible venue, definitely befitting of an Aramco Team Series event and I hope that players and supporters alike have a great week.”

Kevin Kwee, Executive Director of Laguna National Golf Resort Club concluded: “We are absolutely delighted to be holding such a prestigious tournament at our fabulous golf course.

“To have a player of Lydia Ko’s calibre confirmed as the first player that will be appearing shows how strong an event it is going to be and excites everyone here at the golf course, and beyond. The talent arriving for this event will be sure to inspire our future local and regional champions.

“As the host venue, we will ensure we provide all players, caddies, sponsors and fans with an unforgettable experience so they leave Laguna National Golf Resort Club with only incredible memories from the week.”

Ticket information will be available soon and for further information on the Aramco Team Series please visit aramcoteamseries.com.

Following a successful debut on the Ladies Asian Tour (LAT) Series last August, the Simone Asia Pacific Cup is set to make a welcome return to Indonesia, scheduled for December 22-24.

The tournament venue and prize fund for the second edition will be announced in due course; however talks are ongoing for the Jakarta-based Pondok Indah Golf Club to host for the second year running.

The inaugural edition in 2022 offered a total prize money of US$750,000, positioning itself as one of the most lucrative women's golf tournaments in the Southeast Asian region.

A 54-hole strokeplay event with no cut, the Simone Asia Pacific Cup features a unique format where players compete for both individual and team titles.

Last year’s edition, which comprised a 44-strong field representing 16 countries (South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, India, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, China, Chinese Taipei, Myanmar, Hong Kong and the United States), featured some of the world's best female talents, including Major winners such as New Zealand's Lydia Ko, South Koreans So Yeon Ryu and Hyo Joo Kim, as well as Japan’s Hinako Shibuno.

However, it was Princess Mary Superal of the Philippines who stole the thunder when she upstaged her more illustrious rivals to claim the individual title, winning by three shots from 2011 US Women's Open champion Ryu.

Ryu still had a reason to celebrate as she partnered Bo Mee Lee to come out tops in the team competition.

"Following the highly successful staging of the maiden Simone Asia Pacific Cup last year, we believe that everyone will be looking forward to the second edition this year,” said Paul Park, Secretary-General of the Asia Golf Leaders Forum (AGLF).

"We would like to thank Simone for their continuous support and making this event possible.

"What could have been a better storyline than Princess Mary overcoming a host of heavyweights to become the inaugural winner. I have no doubt that another great battle with plenty of dramas is on the cards come December."

 

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