Rookie Win For Lee – Big Day For Asia!

Here’s another terrific reason for Asia to celebrate amidst all the chaos and confusion brought about by the raging pandemic.

South Korean golfer K.H. Lee (pictured) has scored his first big win on the PGA Tour by nailing the 2021 AT&T Byron Nelson. Not only was it a huge win for him but it also signalled Asia’s growing strength on the PGA Tour. Fellow compatriot, Sung Kang won the same event in 2019. Lee picked up a winner’s check for US$1.42 million.

Playing in wet conditions a long weather delay, Lee romped home as a convincing winner when he wrapped up the final day of the tournament at 25-under, topping the field by three strokes.

Lee’s journey leading to his first PGA Tour win started with his move to the United States in 2016 to play on the then-Web.com Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour), and finally becoming a full-time member of the PGA Tour in 2019.

The Seoul native’s best previous finish was earlier this year when he finished T-2 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, just behind Brooks Koepka.

With the win, Lee got into next week’s PGA Championship and he has also gained full exemption for Tour events through the 2022-23 seasons and jumped to 29th in the FedExCup standings.

Sam Burns, who led after 54 holes, was alone in second while Scott Stallings, Daniel Berger, Charl Schwartzel and Patton Kizzire were all third at 21-under.

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Koreans Snap Up TaylorMade Golf!

The golf crazy nation of South Korea is at it again. This time around, it has bought out TaylorMade Golf, arguably the most winningest brand in the game of golf.

The current owners of TaylorMade Golf, KPS Capital Partners have struck a definitive agreement through an affiliate to sell the club maker to the South Korean-based private equity firm Centroid Investment Partners.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but informed sources said that the company was pitched at an asking price of US$2 billion.

KPS bought TaylorMade – established in 1979 – from Adidas in 2017 for US$425 million. Since that time, golf has been experiencing a boom in North America and retail sales of golf equipment is said to have produced US$2.81 billion in revenue in 2020, which was a 10.1-percent increase over 2019.

Commenting on the sales, David Abeles, President and CEO of TaylorMade said, “This transaction is a very important milestone as we continue to build upon our brand’s momentum around the world.” (Abeles pictured being interviewed by Asian Golf’s Mike Sebastian).

According to recent reports, TaylorMade said that it has experienced the highest growth within the industry in key products and total market since that 2017 sale made it an independent gear-focused company.

The new owner of TaylorMade Golf, Jinhyeok Jeong, founder and CEO of Centroid Investment Partners said. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to invest in a global leader in golf. The industry is currently experiencing high demand, increased participation with strong long-term opportunities around the world. TaylorMade is an iconic brand with continued momentum across the key golf equipment categories and regions, especially the Korean and wider Asian markets.”

Like TaylorMade Golf, Acushnet, the company that once owned Titleist, sold out in 2011 for US$1.23 billion to Fila Korea Ltd. and financial investors, primarily Korea-based Mirae Asset Private Equity.

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Dreams Do Come True!

The Honda LPGA Thailand tournament certainly lived up to the sponsor’s slogan – The Power Of Dreams!

Not only did this popular professional tournament deliver on one dream but it delivered on a multitude of dreams. First of all, history was created at the tournament when a Thai golfer, former world number one, Ariya Jutanugarn won the tournament for the first time. Not only did she win but, it was a dream come true for the Thai teenage protégé, Atthaya Thitikul who came in second on a sponsor’s invitation. Thitikul not even a member of the LPGA and to beat the best players on tour and finish as runner up in her first outing on an LPGA event was an incredible achievement.

The win for Jutanugarn was highly emotional as she has not had a win on the LPGA since 2018. She is on record as the best female professional golfer from Thailand and it is hoped that this long over due win on home-soil will kick start her successful career again on the LPGA Tour.

Jutanugarn’s winning score was 22-under par, one stroke ahead of Thitikul and her share of the purse was US$240,000.

The 18-year old Thitikul had a fantastic tournament and if things had not go awry for her in the finishing holes of the final round, she should have won the tournament. Regardless, the former world number one amateur player and reigning Order of Merit leader on the Women’s Thai Professional Tour, she has shown the world that she is on her way to a terrific career as a world class golfer.

And then there was the best round of the tournament which was scored by Thailand’s19 year old Pajaree Anannarukarn who had a flawless 9-under par for the final round.

The other Thai star who was rated highly to win was the reigning ANA Inspiration major winner, Patty Tavatanakit. She showed promise right up to the final round when she lost her control. The 21-year old nevertheless finished tied for third place at 20-under par together with the defending champion, South Korea’s Amy Yang, American Angel Yin and former world number one, South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu.

This was the 14th edition of the Honda LPGA Thailand.

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World Golf Expo 2021 – Simply The Best!

The countdown clock to the World Golf Expo (WGE) has started and with six months to go, planning is hitting a fever pitch for the staging of one of the most important business summits in the golf industry.

The opening up of the world should fit in well with the scheduled staging of the WGE in Haikou, Hainan on November 4 – 7, 2021. The WGE, jointly organized and staged by the Mission Hills Group of China and ASIAN GOLF will be held at the sprawling Mission Hills Resort in Haikou.

“Our engines have been fired up and we are putting the finishing touches to the WGE and we are hopeful that this major event will happen as scheduled,” explained Tenniel Chu, Chairman of the WGE Organizing Committee and Group Vice Chairman of Mission Hills.

“Our peers in the industry have been forced into a state where face to face contact has been totally curtailed in most cases and being in the people business, it is imperative that we provide a safe and solid meeting space for everyone to come together and work towards getting our industry into top gear and moving,” Chu said.

“Given the fact that the industry has been cast into the doldrums, it makes good business sense to bounce back and bounce back in a forceful and committed manner,” declared Chu.

In the move to rebuild, WGE has adopted a revolutionary theme which is ideal for the industry’s comeback. The theme for the 2021 event is GOLF – BEYOND THE PANDEMIC. “We believe that this is a perfect platform upon which to build a business get together that will help share new thoughts and ideas to help us build an even more robust and resilient post pandemic industry,” said Mike Sebastian, CEO of ASIAN GOLF and the executive producer of WGE.

“Basically, we are looking at inculcating a whole new vision for a new era because many of the pre-pandemic business practices have been more or less voided by this sudden disruption,” Sebastian pointed out. According to him, the disruption has brought about a paradigm shift where digital technologies will play an increasingly larger role in the day-to-day operations of all aspects of the golf and golf club industry.

The top speakers have been drawn from a cross section of the golf industry and amongst the star-studded cast are:

  • David Abeles, President of TaylorMade Golf, the brand that boasts some of the best professional golfers in the world as brand ambassadors.
  • Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive Officer of the R&A, the international governing body of golf.
  • Keith Pelley, Chief Executive Officer of the European Tour, one of the world’s top professional golf tours.
  • Joseph Beditz, President of the National Golf Federation from the USA.

“These speakers form the crème de la crème of the global golf industry and we are indeed very fortunate to be able to have their services at the WGE,” said Sebastian.

A total of over 20 international speakers have been confirmed they will be coming from North America, Canada, Europe and Asia.

All of this will be delivered against one of the best backdrops in the resort world – the multi-billion-dollar Mission Hills Resort in Haikou.

WGE website: www.worldgolfexpo.com

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Tiger’s Up!

Golf’s greatest living legend is back on his feet!

Tiger Woods, propped up with crutches, flashed his trademark smile in a moment of joy to mark the second anniversary of his horrific car crash.

The 45-year old super star, pictured above, with a medical brace on his lower right leg and ankle, standing next to his beloved dog.

In an Instagram message, Tiger said, “My course is coming along faster than I am,” referring to one of his golf courses. He added, “But it’s nice to have a faithful rehab partner, man’s best friend.”

In his car crash, Tiger suffered open fractures in his right leg, meaning the bone was shattered in at least 2 places and broke through the skin.

Doctors used a rod to stabilize it, according to Tiger’s medical team, and he’s reportedly been spending the past several weeks recovering and rehabbing at one of his residences in Florida.

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105,000 Facebook Followers – Another Hurdle Cleared!

With the Tokyo Olympics in sight, ASIAN GOLF has hit its stride!

Another month is almost over and we have hit a new milestone – 105,000 followers on Facebook!

In Olympian jargon, we keep breaking records and we are streaks ahead. Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

Thank you to all our loyal readers and supporters. You inspire us to keep on raising the bar!

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