The future is Asia, says Jack Nicklaus
legend Jack Nicklaus, making a special appearance at the inaugural
Pine Valley Beijing Open, believes that the future of golf lies
Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 Major titles during his illustrious
career, said on Wednesday that the Asian Tour will continue to grow
and expects the standard of play to rise in tandem.
The "Golden Bear" was in Pine Valley Golf Resort and
Country Club to attend the club's phase II course opening ceremony
and conduct a junior clinic, held in conjunction with US$500,000
Pine Valley Beijing Open which starts on Thursday.
The Asian Tour will continue to grow and Asian players will
continue to get better," said Nicklaus.
"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
It is a relatively new game here in Asia and Im confident
the growth will be good in this region, added Nicklaus, who
designed the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Course and the 27-hole
Jack Nicklaus II Links Course at Pine Valley, the venue for this
Nicklaus, 67, added that the standard of the game in Asia will
grow steadily as playing opportunities increase. However he feels
that they Asians must spread their wings to compete at the highest
Asian players can improve if they keep playing tournaments
across the world and compete against the best, thats 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, said
With a staggering 73 US PGA Tour victories under his belt, Nicklaus
commended the achievements of Asian Tour-bred players including
China's Zhang Lian-wei, Koreas Charlie Wi and former stalwart
Choi Kyung-ju and he is confident that with the continued expansion
of the Asian Tour, more Asians will break through onto the big stage.
I have seen a lot more good players now then from the time
when I was playing. I have seen good Japanese and Korean players
like Charlie Wi, KJ Choi and even Kevin Na. We have Zhang who was
the first Chinese to play in the Masters. It just shows that the
game is going to continue to grow in Asia. Its not going to
Nicklaus emphasised the fact that it is important for emerging
golfing nations in Asia to have golf icons to help boost the interest
and steer the country in the right direction in the development
of the sport.
A country should also have people to look up to and this
applies to golf in Asia as well. We have to have heroes and people
to follow. If we look at Bernhard Langer and how he affected the
game in Germany, now newcomer Loreno (Ochoa) and what she is doing
with the game in Mexico and Gary Player for South Africa, its
the same thing. Every country, no matter what region, need golfing
Nicklaus has focused primarily on his course designing business
of late and hopes to continue to create playing opportunities for
players across Asia. I will continue to develop courses in
Asia and shape the games of the people by providing good golf courses
to learn on and be able to play on world-class courses.
"Right now Im working in 29 new countries and have 55
countries in total that Im involved in all over the world,
and Asia is part of this. I hope Asian golf will continue to grow
as there are many emerging nations in golf.
The Asian Tour will stage a record Schedule in 2007 with over US$27
million on offer. The Pine Valley Beijing Open is the 12th leg this
This week's tournament will feature American star John Daly and
Asian Tours UBS Order of Merit leader Anton Haig of South
Africa, Liang Wen-chong, who is ranked second, in-form Australian
Scott Hend, who enjoyed two straight top-three finishes coming into
this week, and Thailands Chapchai Nirat, who claimed his maiden
win at the TCL Classic in March.
April 25, 2007