PGA Tour tees off in SE Asia for 1st time

By Martin Parry, AFP

KUALA LUMPUR — The PGA Tour hosts its first-ever tournament in Southeast Asia this week, with some of the United States’ top players vying for US$6 million in prize money.

The lucrative purse at Kuala Lumpur’s Mines Resort and Golf Club has attracted many Americans who don’t usually travel abroad, including rising star Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, John Senden, Heath Slocum and Ryan Moore. But the field is also studded with top internationals, led by Ernie Els, Robert Allenby, Luke Donald, K.J. Choi and Retief Goosen. With only the top 25 from the PGA Tour’s FedExCup standings eligible, along with the top 10 players from the Asian Tour and five sponsor exemptions, there will be no halfway cut with all 40 golfers teeing off each day.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said it was the right time to co-sanction an event with the Asian Tour in the booming region. “With such tremendous growth for golf in the region, the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic provides an exciting presence for the PGA Tour in Malaysia and Southeast Asia,” he said. “It also presents a unique opportunity for our members to compete against the leading professionals from the region at an outstanding facility.”

Coming off an encouraging win in Bermuda last week, Els is in form and relishing the challenge of playing in Malaysia, a country he has never visited before.

“After last week’s win in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf I’m coming in here feeling good about my game,” the big South African said on his website, adding that he has a new driver that is helping enormously. “And I’ve got some positive putting vibes from last week’s back-nine performance on the greens.