Monday, July 26, 2010

Motor golf as seen on a local course in central Java

The Beauty And Tradition Of Central Java

During my recent visit to central Java (July 2010), I visited the cemetery of the Mataram Kingdom in Imogiri, some 12 kilometers southeast of the Royal and ancient city of Yogyakarta.

It's located on a hill top that overlooks the Bantul regency and it can be reached by climbing nearly 400 steps of a rather steep stairway that leads to three main courtyards. There, the tombs of the Royal descendants of Yogyakarta and Surakarta are placed.

Almost all of the kings of the Mataram Kingdom - from Sultan Agung onwards - and its successor houses of Yogyakarta and Surakarta Sultanate, as well as many of their family members, are buried here. For centuries, their tombs have become a place of pilgrimage and ceremony for all that hold the Royal families of central Java in high regard.

Going into the courtyards, men must wear black or dark blue lurik (traditional Javanese hand woven fabric) and are not allowed to wear their kris, (traditional Javanese dagger). Women must wear the traditional Javanese dress. For a small fee, visitors can "rent" the traditional dresses from the so called abdi dalem or keeper of the cemetery.

Being here, one senses mystique. The atmosphere is utterly serene and laden with history and traditional enigma. The white buildings that make up for this fortress-like collection of former Royal dwellings are kept in perfect condition. One would not even remotely think that these structures were first erected in 1645. Immediately one realizes the important role the Royal families of Yogya and Solo (Surakarta) must have played in this part of Java. For nearly four centuries and as part of the Kingdom of Mataram they truly were the rulers of Central Java.

Given the early hour of the day, the place was eerily still. And when I stood there on the top section of the cemetery, I noticed an old man entering the gate that leads to the three courtyards. He must be at least eighty years old. The advanced years had caused his back to hunch.
Aided by a walking stick cautiously he walked. Clad in traditional Javanese attire, his head was covered by a blangkon (traditional Javanese head cover). The moment I saw the man I was elated and felt as if I was pulled back into central Java’s rich historic past. As there was no one else but he and I, a chill went down my spine.

Suddenly I realized the enormous significance of central Java's historic past and the role that Yogya always had played in it. Still today, the roots of this ancient city are never far from sight. Unfortunately, and hit by Blackberries, internet and global connectivity, slowly but surely we're losing touch with what has made Yogya the seat of the once mighty Javanese empire of Mataram, a supreme cultural center.

It is in Imogiri, and in particular at the cemetery of the Kingdom of Mataram, where we can re-connect.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hendry Records Crushing Victory in Indonesia Open presented by Enjoy Jakarta

Jakarta, July 4: New Zealand's Michael Hendry propelled his name into the spotlight today with an emphatic seven-stroke victory in the US$1 million Indonesia Open presented by Enjoy Jakarta.
The 30-year-old from North Harbour started the day with a one stroke lead and fired a flawless final round seven-under-par 65 at Damai Indah Golf - Pantai Indah Kapuk Course to finish comfortably ahead of second placed Liang Wenchong from China.

Liang came in with a 71, in the fifth event of the season on OneAsia.

Unheralded Hendry killed off the challenge of his nearest competitors with a brilliant run of seven birdies on six, eight, nine, 11, 12, 13 and 14.
It is far and away the biggest victory of Hendry's career and is the culmination of an outstanding period of form. He won the Fiji Open two weeks ago and was a back-to-back winner of titles on New Zealand's domestic Tour in May. He currently leads the money list in New Zealand - an award he claimed last year for the first time.

"This feels surreal. It will take some time to sink in. It is a very emotional moment for me," said Hendry.

He finished with a four-round aggregate of 19-under-par 269 and earned a cheque for US$180,000.

"I caught fire out there today. I have worked really hard on my game over the past year and it has paid off. I know my mortgage is now going to be a lot smaller," added the Kiwi.

As he walked off the 18th several of his fellow professionals, including Gareth Paddison, Josh Carmichael and Brendan Stuart, performed the Haka – the traditional Maori dance made famous by the All blacks - in Hendry's honour.

Hendry started his sporting career in cricket. He played cricket for New Zealand's under-19 cricket team and later represented Auckland before opting to focus on golf in his early 20s. He turned professional in 2004.

Liang was hot favourite to take the title having won the season opening Luxehills Chengdu Open in China on OneAsia in April. He also claimed last year's Midea China Classic.
The 31-year-old birdied the second hole to draw level with playing partner Hendry. The tournament developed into a two horse race on the front nine but Liang uncharacteristically fell back with three bogeys on the trot from the 10th.

"Michael was just too good today. Even if I played well I don't think I could have caught him," said Liang, who won US$102,000. He made four birdies and three bogeys.

Australian Anthony Brown and Taiwan's Hsieh Tung-shu finished in a tie for third, nine strokes behind Hendry, after shooting rounds of 70 and 71 respectively.

Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant, winner of this event in 2005, was a stroke further back with Singaporean Mardan Mamat and Ronald Harvey from Canada.

Thaworn carded a 68 while Mamat shot a 71 and Harvey returned 66.
Japan's Shingo Katayama, a five timer winner of the Japan Tour Money List, finished in a tie for 12th. He closed with a 70 to finish the tournament on five under par.

The burgeoning OneAsia will stage 11 tournaments with a total of more than US$12 million in prize money this season.

This week's event was showcased on OneAsia's television platform with live coverage for four hours a day across all four tournament days, and broadcast to over 260 million homes in more than 40 countries.
Leading final round scores:

(Par 72)

269 – Michael Hendry (NZL) 70-67-67-65
276 – Liang Wenchong (CHN) 70-64-71-71
278 – Anthony Brown (AUS) 67-69-72-70, Hsieh Tung-shu (TPE) 68-70-69-71
279 – Ronald Harvey (CAN) 69-73-71-66, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 71-68-72-68, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 71-69-68-71
281 – Wu Kangchun (CHN) 73-73-66-69
282 – Brad Kennedy (AUS) 73-73-68-68, Martin Andrew (AUS) 70-72-70-70, Simon Yates (SCO) 71-72-68-71

283 – Shingo Katayama (JPN) 72-65-76-70

Friday, July 2, 2010

Trio tie for lead in Indonesia Open presented by Enjoy Jakarta

Jakarta, July 1: Australians Anthony Brown and Michael Wright along with veteran Taiwanese golfer Tsai Chi-huang prevailed in taxing conditions on the opening day of the US$1 million Indonesia Open presented by Enjoy Jakarta today.

They fired five-under-par 67s at the Damai Indah Golf - Pantai Indah Kapuk Course in intense humidity and windy conditions.

They led by a stroke from Australian Anthony Summers and Taiwan's Hsieh Tung-shu - in what is the fifth event of this season on OneAsia.

Pre-tournament favourite Liang Wenchong from China carded a 70, former champion Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and Mardan Mamat from Singapore came in with 71, while Japanese star Shingo Katayama finished the day even.

Indonesian fans had much to cheer about with Jamal Ondo and Ayadi Hermawan carding 70s, to reflect the growing strength of golf in their country.

"I did what I had to do and kept the ball on the fairway. I only missed two fairways. It was very tough out there as it was windy, very humid and the fairways are narrow. It's good to get a good first round in here as I started the year quite well but over the past few months I just have not been scoring well," said 27-year-old Brown.

The man from Melbourne, who once played for Australia's junior team, started on the back nine and nailed seven birdies and two bogeys. He finished joint 10th in last year's Midea China Classic on OneAsia for one of his best results in Asia and with his wife expecting their first child in August he is hoping for a good season.

The more experienced Wright, aged 36, played in the group behind Brown in the morning and made an impressive eight birdies.

"We started early today so I thought we would have a chance to get the best conditions but it was hard going. I had a real up and down round but thankfully my putter saved me," said Wright, who has enjoyed a good season on OneAsia finishing joint 11th in the GS Caltex Maekyung Open and equal 14th in the SK Telecom Open.

Tsai was once a familiar name on leaderboards in the region and is best known for winning the three biggest tournaments in Taiwan. He won the Taiwan PGA Championship in 1998, the Taiwan Open in 1999 and the Mercuries Masters in 2003.

"It is nice to be playing well in such a big event. It has been a long time. I didn't make many mistakes but it took a lot of concentration," said Tsai.

The 42-year-old lost his form and confidence after his big wins and spent time teaching golf on a driving range in Shanghai before two memorable back-to-back comeback wins on the China Tour in 2008.

Liang, a two-time winner on OneAsia including the season-opening Luxehills Chengdu Open, did not feature for much of the day but a solid two-under-par back nine with no bogeys saw him start the tournament well.

"I think everyone found it very difficult today. If conditions stay this way low scoring will be very hard," said Liang.

The burgeoning OneAsia which will stage 11 tournaments with a total of more than US$12 million in prize money this season.

This week's event will be showcased on OneAsia's television platform with live coverage for four hours a day across all four tournament days, and broadcast to over 260 million homes in more than 40 countries.

Full coverage of this week's event will be available domestically on ESPN Star Sports, as well as internationally on, Network Ten, America One and Bloomberg Television among others.

Leading first round scores (Par 72):

67 - Anthony Brown (AUS), Michael Wright (AUS), Tsai Chi-huang (TPE)

68 - Anthony Summers (AUS), Hsieh Tung-shu (TPE)

69 - An Hyun-woo (KOR), Gary Simpson (AUS), Ronald Harvey (CAN)

70 - Lee Hyeon-woo (KOR), Liao Guiming (CHN), Liang Wenchong (CHN), Michael Hendry (NZL), Andrew Martin (AUS), Jamal Ondo (INA), Ayadi Hermawan (INA)

71 - Thaworn Wiratchant (THA), Simon Yates (SCO), Li Chao (CHN), Mardan Mamat (SIN), Suprapto (INA), Steven Jones (AUS), Shang Lei (CHN), Matthew Griffin (AUS), Henry Epstein (AUS), Scott Hills (NZL)


72 - Shingo Katayama (JPN)