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Golf in Vietnam continues to grow

Professional golf in Vietnam will continue to prosper with the staging of the second Carlsberg Masters Vietnam presented by Thai Airways from November 17-20, officials said today.

Following last year's successful launch, Carlsberg, one of the largest brewery groups in the world as well as in Vietnam , is putting its resources again to title sponsor the US$200,000 event on the Asian Tour.

Filipino Angelo Que, who won the inaugural tournament 12 months ago by toppling Thai star Thongchai Jaidee and former US Open champion Corey Pavin, has confirmed his title defence.

Que will be challenged by the likes of current Order of Merit leader Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and Chinese stars Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong. South African James Kingston, a regular on the European Tour, will be back in the region to challenge for a fifth title in Asia while other champions including Scott Strange and Adam Le Vesconte, both from Australia , and Singapore 's Mardan Mamat will also tee up at Chi Linh Star Golf and Country Club.

The Carlsberg Masters Vietnam has also received added boost from Thai Airways International, which has signed up as the event's presenting sponsor.

The local government has maintained its backing behind Hanoi 's only professional golf championship, with vice prime minister Mr Vu Khoan accepting the role as patron of the event.

"On behalf of Carlsberg, we are delighted to maintain our role as title sponsor of the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam. Following last year's success, we have seen golf becoming more popular and we are committed in helping the game grow in Vietnam ,"said South East Asia Brewery Ltd, (Carlsberg Vietnam ). General Director Henrik J. Andersen.

"We have successfully placed Vietnam on the golfing map and we aim to grow this event into a golfing extravaganza that the whole golfing community of Vietnam can be proud of."

"On an international level, the Carlsberg brand has already been involved in major golf sponsorships throughout Asia including the Carlsberg Malaysia Open, Singapore Masters and Hong Kong Open- and we are therefore proud to continue this long term commitment and dedication to golf in Vietnam as well."

Thai Airways International General Manager, Nond Kalinta is confident the partnership with the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam would ensure the continued growth of the tournament.

"Thai Airways International is delighted to be a part of Vietnam 's most important professional golf tournament. Our company has always supported professional golf in Asia and we believe the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam presented by Thai Airways will provide the cornerstone for the game's continued development in this emerging country," said Nond.

Asian Tour Chief Executive Louis Martin was delighted that the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam has attracted keen interests amongst the corporate sector, which he said was critical for playing standards to improve.

The Vietnamese national amateur golf team, who are preparing for the Southeast Asian Games in December, will also be invited to play in this year's event at the magnificent Chi Linh Star while Asian Tour stalwarts will conduct coaching clinics for junior golfers in hope of creating Vietnam 's version of its own Tiger Woods down the years, added Martin.

"Sponsorship is the lifeblood of professional golf and we are thankful that Carlsberg, Thai Airways International and many other sponsors have thrown their support behind this exciting event," said Martin.

"A lot more effort must be put in to ensure that this event remains as a major sporting spectacle in Hanoi as it is the catalyst for golf's growth in Vietnam . Throughout the tournament last year, many spectators watched our Asian Tour stars in action and I was pleased to see a lot of young children showing a keen interest in the game.

"By watching the Asian stars up close, hopefully, we'll be able to inspire young Vietnamese golfers to reach for the stars," added Martin.

Chi Linh Star, which opened for play in 2003, was hailed as a great championship test by the golfers. Filipino Que won the title by two strokes with his 12-under-par 276 winning aggregate.

The Club's Chief Executive Officer, Doan Van An said: "We are proud to be associated with an event which has helped shape the development of professional golf in Vietnam . Last year's event generated tremendous interest amongst local golfers and we are extremely keen to help in the development of golf in our country."

Over a decade ago, Vietnam did not boast of a golf course in operation but there are now at least 10 international-class courses across the country, with many more under construction.

An estimated 1,500 amateur golfers are now playing the game in Vietnam and Martin believes that the Carlsberg Masters Vietnam presented by Thai Airways will eventually unearth the first Vietnamese player to feature regularly on the Asian Tour.

October 31, 2005

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