World golf governors praise Indian success on Asian Tour

April 2nd, 2008 - 12:13 pm ICT by admin  

Singapore, April 2 (IANS) S.S.P. Chowrasia and Arjun Atwal’s successes in the joint-sanctioned events this season has had the Royal & Ancient, the world’s governing body for golf, gushing and praising both the Asian and Indian Tour’s rapid growth. R&A firmly believes the region can deliver a first Major champion in the near future, says its director Michael Tate.

“I’ve been coming out to Asia for 15 years now and you wouldn’t have believed how far the Asian Tour and golf in Asia has progressed in all that time. It’s fantastic to see,” said Tate.

“I think we’ve have seen two Indian winners emerge already on Tour this season. This would have been unheard of 10 to 15 years ago and here they are all coming through and it’s great and it’s very encouraging to see.”

This season, Asian Tour members have won three of five co-sanctioned tournaments with the European Tour thus far. India’s Chowrasia and Atwal were triumphant in the Emaar-MGF Indian Masters and Maybank Malaysian Open respectively while New Zealand’s Mark Brown emerged victorious at the Johnnie Walker Classic.

Jeev Milkha Singh of India, who will play in the US Masters next week, came close at the Enjoy Jakarta Astro Indonesia Open and Ballantine’s Championship in Korea, finishing second on both occasions.

“We see the region expanding enormously in golfing terms. It’s a very popular game, as people are introduced to it and as wealth gets a little greater, more players will come through and long may that last,” added Tate.

Tate was in Singapore for the Open Championship International Final Qualifying - Asia at Sentosa Golf Club last week and took time off to visit the Asian Tour’s headquarters in Sentosa where the Tour’s Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han and Senior Vice President Gerry Norquist gave him a guided tour.

He was also delighted to see three Asians - Malaysia’s Danny Chia, Angelo Que of Philippines and Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing - earn tickets to this year’s Open Championship at Britain’s Royal Birkdale in July along with Asian Tour regular Adam Blyth of Australia.

Tate, who was involved with the setting up of a professional golf Tour in China during a stint with Volvo, said that with the rising standards of play in Asia, it will not be too long before an Asian wins a Major title.

“When you see the results and the number of winners coming out of Asia, it’s simply stunning,” said Tate.

“You just have to look at the performances of some players to know that it is coming through. We’re just waiting for an Asian winner of a Major.”

The Asian Tour presently boasts a strong Schedule of 27 tournaments with over $37 million in prize money, a record.

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