Nicklaus Says the Future is Asia

Jack Nicklaus and Asia have a close relationship. After all, he has designed dozens of courses in the region and has always been a supporter of Asia’s up and coming players.

Nicklaus, 67, who has a record 18 Major titles to his name, was there for the start of the Pine Valley Beijing Open earlier this week when he presided over the opening ceremony for the club’s phase II course he designed as well as a junior golf clinic.

The Golden Bear believes Asia will be at the forefront in the future growth of golf around the world, both as a golfing destination and as a source for the world’s best players.

What many forget is that two of the world’s leading golfers, world number one Tiger Woods and seventh-ranked Fijian Vijay Singh, are of Asian heritage.

Nicklaus said on the Asian Tour wesbite:

“Asia is the place where the most growth will come from and there will be more young players being introduced to the game here than in any other place by comparison to what we have seen in the past.”

Nicklaus, however, said that while the Asian Tour is gaining in strength, Asian golfers must play outside the continent in order to improve their skills

He cited the success of players such as China’s Zhang Lian-wei, and Korean pair Charlie Wi and Choi Kyung-ju as an example of what the region’s golfers can achieve abroad.

“Asian players can improve if they keep playing tournaments across the world and compete against the best, that’s how to be the best. The world is getting smaller. Now the Asian Tour has events with the European Tour and I think this is a big step in making the world smaller as the game is becoming more global.”

China, which was last year voted the best golfing destination in Asia, is one country where golf has the potential to boom, given its increasingly affluent population and huge market.

Indeed, the Omega China Tour is fast emerging as a viable circuit by itself. The Tour returns for a third season in May with a record eight events, up from six last season, all of them offering at least $100,000 in prize money.

The aim of the Tour is to provide the next generation of Chinese golfers the opportunity to play as professionals and enhance their skills.

The circuit starts on May 10 with the Sofitel Championship at Nanjing Zhongshan International Golf Club and also has stops in Qingdao, Guangzhou, Yanji, Shanghai, Kunming, Xiamen and Beijing.

Among the players taking part is rising Chinese golfer Liang Wen-chong, who in March won the Singapore Masters, which is jointly sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour.

Organisers of the China Tour want to make it one of the best in the region, as Nick Mould, of promoter World Sport Group said:

“We have a long term commitment with the China Golf Association to build the Omega China Tour into one of golf’s strongest domestic circuits and we have been thoroughly satisfied with the progress the Tour has made over the past two seasons.”

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