Jakarta, February 10 - The international golfing community turned its attention to Indonesia last week as organizers on Wednesday February 4 celebrated the launch and fifth anniversary of the country’s preeminent golf tournament with an official clock to count down the 78 days to the start of the 2015 CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters.
The occasion was marked by the confirmation of three star players who will feature in 2015 edition of the tournament, in defending champion Anirban Lahiri from India, former World No. 1 Lee Westwood, and European Tour and Ryder Cup veteran, Thomas Bjorn from Denmark.
The three players will join a stellar 150 player field when the US$ 750,000 Asian Tour tournament returns to the beautiful surroundings of the Royale Jakarta Golf Club from April 23-26 this year.
27 year old Lahiri will be hoping to pick up where he left off last April, when he eagled the last hole of the tournament to claim a one shot victory over Baek Seuk-hyun of Korea and 2014 Rookie of the Year Cameron Smith of Australia.
Lahiri notched up a second victory in Macau and a further six top-ten finishes in a year that culminated with a second place finish on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and being voted 2014 Players’ Player of the Year for his exploits on the Asian Tour.
Speaking about his title defense in Jakarta, Lahiri said, “2014 was a very special year but it was this tournament where it really came together and set me up for the rest of the year. The eagle on the last hole is a putt I will never forget, so I have very happy memories of the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters and look forward to coming back to defend my title. It’s always a very competitive tournament and a great event.”
Two time tournament champion and veteran of 41 professional wins, Lee Westwood will be looking to prove that experience counts over youth as he looks to make it three wins at the tournament he claimed back to back victories at in 2011 and 2012. Coinciding with his birthday, landing the hat trick in Jakarta would be a welcome start to his 42nd year.
“The CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters is a tournament that I know well and, having won twice there, I have always felt very comfortable. It’s a great course and CIMB Niaga stage a truly first class tournament. I would love to make it a hat trick of wins.” added the Englishman.
Meanwhile Denmark’s Bjorn will be hoping to rediscover the form that has seen him land prestigious titles including the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles and Omega European Masters in a professional career that began back in 1993.
The veteran of six victorious European Ryder Cup campaigns said, “I’m looking forward to making my debut at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club. I’ve heard good things about the tournament and look forward to lining up alongside Anirban and Lee in April. The tournament comes quickly after the Masters so I’ll be looking for a good result in Indonesia to serve as a springboard for a successful summer in Europe.”
Speaking on behalf of the tournament sponsor, Arwin Rasyid, President Director of CIMB Niaga said, “2015 is a special year for the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters. It marks the fifth year of the tournament as well as four years of CIMB Niaga’s involvement. During that time, the tournament has grown in stature, attracting both the best players on the Asian Tour as well as some of the most recognized names in the history of the modern game who come to compete in Indonesia.
“In addition to our continued support for junior golf development in Indonesia, it is our hope that the tournament will inspire a future generation of Indonesians to fulfill their potential as players and represent our country on the world stage in years to come”, added Arwin.
Asian Tour Chairman Kyi Hla Han said, “Through CIMB Niaga’s commitment and sponsorship, the Indonesian Masters has grown into one of the most popular events on our schedule since 2011 where it has attracted many leading stars. The exciting event is also an important fixture for the Indonesian golfers as it provides them with the opportunity to play against the best players from the Asian Tour and also the world.”
The countdown clock will be on public display between now and the tournament at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club, CIMB Tower and the JS Luwansa Hotel and Convention Center which will once again be the Official Hotel of the tournament, providing hospitality and accommodation for players and tournament officials.
Sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the PGA Tour of Indonesia (PGTI), the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters will feature 24 Indonesian golfers, 20 professionals from the PGTI and four of Indonesia’s top amateurs who will compete in the 150 player field over 72 holes of individual stroke play.