Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Local Players Must Sell Themselves Better: Asian Tour Official

Indonesian golfers risk losing their wild cards into Asian Tour events if they don’t compete in at least 15 tournaments next season, an official said on Tuesday.

The Asian Tour began providing Indonesian golfers a wild card into its tournaments in 1995, adding a second one last year.

“[The Asian Tour] has 28 tournaments throughout the year, but we rarely see Indonesian players in those tournaments,” Irfan Hamid, Asian Tour senior manager for tour development, said on Tuesday at a news conference in Jakarta for the 2012 Indonesian Masters.

“We hope Indonesian golfers will play in at least 15 tournaments next season or we will consider not giving them two wild cards.”

The other path into Asian Tour-sanctioned events is by earning a tour card at Qualifying School, which takes place on Jan. 11 to 21 in Hua Hin, Thailand.

Rory Hie was the only Indonesian to compete in Asian Tour events this year. He finished ninth at the Indonesian Masters in April but then failed to make the cut at this month’s Singapore Open and Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia.

Rory, who won the Tangshan China PGA Championship in September to become the first Indonesian golfer to win an international tournament outside his home country, played in 13 Asian Tour events in 2010.

Hamid said the dearth of Indonesian golfers was because they struggled to find sponsors.

“The PGPI [Indonesian Professional Golfers Association] should help them find sponsors,” he said. “They don’t know how to sell themselves. No one guides them. There are a lot of sponsors out there. These guys need to find them and the PGPI needs to educate them because it’s all about the value of the players.”

PGPI chairman Syafei Asnap admitted that a lack of sponsors was a primary problem in Indonesia’s golf development.

“Players have tried to find sponsors by themselves. The PGPI will start being actively involved in helping the players, and I think we have a good chance because lots of PGPI officials are entrepreneurs,” he said.

“Now that the Asian Tour has given its warning, we’ll pay close attention to this matter. We don’t want to lose the wild cards.”

Indonesian Masters organizers confirmed on Tuesday that world No. 3 and defending champion Lee Westwood would play in the 2012 event, which will take place on April 19 to 23 at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.

Asian Tour star Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, the only player to win the tour’s Order of Merit title three times, and Rory also confirmed they would compete in the $750,000 tournament.

“I am excited to return to the Indonesian Masters. I came in second this year and I hope to walk away with the trophy next year. I will continue to play in as many Asian Tour events as I can as the Tour has helped me build my career to what it is today,” Thongchai said in a statement.

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