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PGA Champs show SE Asian golfers can make it big

Update: May, 26/2019 - 08:13

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By Robert Bicknell

Ah, the PGA Championship event… which has always been sort of an afterthought when it came to majors, but some very big names have won it, as well as unknown players who went on to become stars, at least for a while… can you say “John Daly?”

While everyone was busy tuning in to watch Tiger Woods attempt his second major victory in a row, others in the broadcast booth were busy starting fights, namely Brandel Chamblee relentlessly mocking Brooks Koepka – until after the first round where he shot a 63.

After the round, Chamblee said it felt like “4 ½ hours of Brooks Koepka giving me the finger” so I guess we know who won that battle.

Other big names were on hand to take a run at the Wanamaker trophy, such as Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Jazz Janewattananond…

Huh?

OK, for those who don’t know, and are too lazy to Google it, Jazz (Atiwit) Janewattananond splits his time between the European and Asian Tours. He won on the Asian Tour three times and qualified for The Open Championship twice. Not too bad…

My take on this is very simple… the kid played great through three rounds in The PGA Championship and proved to everyone that Southeast Asian players are slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with. So far, he’s done better than any of the others and this should give all the other players here in SE Asia hope and rekindle their desire to make it to the big show someday.

Hideki Matsuyama and Kang Sung-hoon rounded out the top Asian’s in the event, but in my view, It’s Jazz who we need to focus on, at least for what his, and Asian Golf’s future represents.

Three rounds where he hung with the best in the game and didn’t falter. OK, the last round got to him, but that’s kinda to be expected considering his age and lack of experience at those higher altitudes in the rarified air of a Major.

Kids here in Southeast Asia should take note of his achievement and understand the future of golf includes them. They too can someday play on the Big Tour if they work hard enough. No, it’s not easy and the odds are stacked against everyone, but it’s not impossible and it’s certainly more possible now that someone proved it can be done.

That was a big moment for Asian golf, but we need to capitalise on it by providing more training facilities and programmes for juniors. We need more events for them to cut their teeth on and we need a more structured approach to the National Team – including sponsors and a full time professional coach.

Jazz turned the spotlight on us in Southeast Asia, now the rest is up to us.

I’m not really surprised at Tiger Woods failing to make the cut as he took a lot of time off, didn’t practice much and claimed he was suffering from some undisclosed illness. Probably the flu, but who knows?

When asked about his performance, he actually had the best “shut up” answer… “I’m the Masters Champion and I’m 42 years old. I’d say that’s an achievement.”

Then he jumped on his private jet to wherever, and cruised around on his yacht for a while, maybe doing some deep sea fishing or just enjoying being 42 years old with a yacht and a private jet and no financial worries.

I’d say he earned that right.

Now then, on to the elephant in the room, Brooks Koepka. Personally, I want to hate him but it’s hard to. If you wanted Hollywood to create a stereotypical Tour Pro, Koepka would be it. He’s got the look and the skills.

When walking from green to tee, he had his arms outstretched to “high-five” everyone on both sides as he made his way through. Who said he’s cold and unapproachable?

I don’t see any flaws in his game either. Sure, at the end he wavered a little bit, but when leading that much, everyone has to chase you and take risks, which is why we saw so many score balloon out there.

Dustin Johnson gave it a good try, but the course and Koepka were just a bit too much. But the good thing is we have many legitimate stars to watch now. VNS

 

 

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