Home > Other Sports, Sport News > Siem Reap set for 2010 Open

Siem Reap set for 2010 Open

A golfer tees off at the Phokeethra Country Club course, which is set
to host the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open from tomorrow. Photo Supplied
A view of Roluh Bridge, which was built in the 11th Century, leading up
to the clubhouse of Phokeethra Country Club in Siem Reap. Photo Supplied

The fourth edition of the Johnnie Walker
Cambodian Open golf tournament, which tees off tomorrow at the
Phokeethra Country Club in Siem Reap, offers Asian Tour pros a
penultimate stop to tidy up their tournament cards and avoid
qualification hassles for the next season.

The US$300,000 event,
the Kingdom’s richest sporting venture, is crucially important for the
touring pros to secure a safe berth within the comfort zone of the 65
top finishers at the end of the season. With the Black Mountain Masters
at Hua Hin in Thailand bringing the curtain down on the 2010 season a
week after this event, good performances in Siem Reap inevitably lead
to better placements.

In terms of prize money, the Cambodian
Open meets minimum Asian Tour standards but its timing makes a profound
impact on the field.

“Being the season’s last but one [event],
it could well shape the destiny of some players when they cross over to
the next,” Asian Tour Senior Director Htwe Hla Han told The Post
yesterday. “The winner gets a two-year exemption from the qualifiers
and the top five will directly get into the Black Mountain Masters.”

The
Singapore-based tour development executive added that “the main goal is
to spread golf to every corner of Asia, and an emerging market like
Cambodia plays an important role. The amateur talent is there to be
seen and it is time Cambodia sent out a pro on the Tour.”

The
heritage and history of Angkor Wat and the hospitality laid out for the
touring pros had made the Cambodian Open a popular tour destination.
The title sponsorship by Johnnie Walker and the Royal Government’s
unwavering support had clearly raised its stature, said Htwe.

Meanwhile,
the busiest man at the sprawling Phokeethra Country Club is Operation
Manager Jack Hedges, who brings his European Tour experience at to his
one-year appointment in Siem Reap.

Hedges, who marshalls a
staff of about 300 at the course for its showcase event, is in no doubt
that golf’s profile has gone up and the Kingdom is fast developing into
a major destination in the region.

“We can clearly see the
growth year by year. I will not be surprised if one or two breakthrough
the amateur ranks for Cambodia and this Asian Tour stop is an important
one for local golfers,” he said.
“It is a longer course. It is a
challenging one. It calls on everyone to put their thinking caps on and
the totally contrasting holes also make it a bit tricky.”

Top course for top Tour event
The
first world-class international golf course in Seam Reap, the
Phokeethra Country Club, is ranked among the top-five of the best new
courses in Asia by Asian Golf Monthly Magazine. The grounds are steeped
in Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage.

Located next to the
clubhouse and first tee is the ancient 32-metre wide Roluh Bridge,
which dates back to the 11th century and represents the link between
the past and the present day. The Phokeethra Country Club’s slogan
invites the golfing fraternity to “Tee-off in the 11th Century and
finish your round in the 21st Century”, with the Roluh Bridge as the
central feature of the club’s logo.

The weather would not have
been a factor at all but for yesterday evening’s unseasonal showers and
forecasts of sporadic rain over the next two days. As one local golfer
put it: “Rain and Siem Reap are not the best of friends. I do not
really remember the last time it rained here.” Undaunted by the
meteorologists’ predictions, the pros used every minute of the last
practice
session yesterday.

Today is a day of fun, with a
Pro-Am event on the cards followed by a gala dinner at the famous Bayon
Temple. However, tomorrow morning it is back to serious business with
competitors teeing off from 7am.

Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Other Sports, Sport News
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