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Go all out and shine in coming world golf championship

Thanks to the media, many Malaysians may be able to recall the two major golf tournaments staged in the country. There were the Maybank Malaysian Open played between 1962 and 2015, and the CIMB Classic from 2010 to 2018.

But there has never been a Malaysian winner for these two tournaments, as both attracted top professional golfers from around the world. Winners of major golf tournaments are idolised by golfers everywhere, estimated to be 63 million strong.

As there are around 35,000 golf courses of various sizes spread around the world, there are many more teaching professionals, known as golf pro, than professional golfers playing in well-known golf circuits.

Unlike other sports where competitors are busy playing in silence most of the time, golfers get to chat with one another while waiting or walking on the golf course. Many great friendships and business deals have been struck during such exchanges, including at the clubhouse.

From the onset, the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board (Tourism Malaysia) recognised the importance of golfing by promoting 160 golf courses in the country that are of international standards and supported tournaments that attracted visitors to our country.

As the Maybank Malaysian Open and CIMB Classic were played by professionals, local amateur golfers were reduced to spectators. But they get to participate in many local tournaments, and one of the most eagerly awaited are the qualifying rounds for the World Amateur Golfers Championship (WAGC) that are held annually.

Five winners from each handicap category will get to represent Malaysia in the WAGC Finals, which will be held in Sabah this year from October 19 to 26 at four golf courses at Kota Kinabalu. They are Sutera Harbour Marina Golf & Country Club, Sabah Golf & Country Club, Nexus Golf Resort Karambunai and Dalit Bay Golf & Country Club.

Winners of the Malaysian final qualifying round will tee off with over 40 national teams from all continents that include North, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. In previous WAGC, our Malaysian teams were twice crowned world champions in South Africa in 2012 and in Turkey in 2015, and twice second runner-up in 2016 and last year.

Apart from trying to wrest back the crown this October before the WAGC moves to Mexico next year, we should also do our utmost to showcase Malaysian hospitality to the participating national teams and their entourages that include family members, friends and supporters.

Its officials play a pivotal role in coordination as many government agencies must cooperate to ensure the smooth running of the WAGC.

Come October, the four selected host venues must pull out all the stops to ensure clubhouse facilities and fairways are in immaculate condition, as they will be showcasing what Malaysia, a golfing haven, has to offer. It is also an opportune time for tourism in Sabah to shine under the world spotlight as this world level tournament will be covered by the international media.

In Malaysia, thousands of local amateur golfers have competed in the qualifying rounds hoping to win the honour to represent the country. For this year, it will kick off this month at the TPC Kuala Lumpur, formerly known as Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.

After this, it will be held at the Kota Permai Golf & Country Club in Selangor, then cross over to Sabah Golf & Country Club before swinging back to the peninsula in Kedah at the Permaipura Golf & Country Club. It will then move south to Johor at the IOI Palm Villa Golf & Country Resort and north to Nilai Springs Golf & Country Club at Negeri Sembilan and subsequently to Danau Golf Club in Selangor.

The next three qualifying rounds will be in Sabah at the Sutera Harbour Marina Golf & Country Club, Nexus Golf Resort Karambrunai and Dalit Bay Golf & Country Club. By August, it will reach Sarawak at the Kelab Golf Sarawak and in September at the Damai Golf & Country Club. And that will be the last chance for golfers who wish to qualify for the national final, which will be held at the Borneo Golf & Country Club.

In 2012 and 2015, the Malaysian national teams felt on top of the world when they have crowned world champions at the WAGC. Likewise, the national teams from more than 40 other countries, having undergone the same rigour, are just as eager to bring honours for themselves and their countries. At the very least, Malaysians should win over the guests with our warm hospitality and great sportsmanship.

And that is the best way to promote Malaysia in general and Sabah in particular to the world. As the venue for the annual WAGC will be rotated globally, it will take some years before Malaysia get the chance to stage the same championship at our home soil once again.

As such, it is imperative that our local golfing fraternity rally together and makes WAGC 2019 a golf tournament that many Malaysians, particularly Sabahans, can be proud of and long remember. Let us show the world that we are a good sport and a great host!

Source: New Sarawak Tribune | Mar 14, 2019