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Saturday November 24, 2012
By JASTIN AHMAD TARMIZI firstname.lastname@example.org Photo by SHAARI CHEMAT
IT WAS no major championship, but local celebrities and members of the media had the unique opportunity to put their golfing skills to the test as they competed off the fairway in a virtual golf simulator competition for an exclusive slot at the Iskandar Johor Open (IJO) Pro-Am event in December.
Hosted by event promoters IMG, entertainment stars such as Pamela Chong, Vanessa Chong, Pop Shuvit’s Moots and Craig Fong attended the cocktail gathering held at City Golf Bangsar for an evening of socialising and some golfing fun.
Fighting off stiff competition, Australian Geoff McLaws emerged as the eventual winner of the “Nearest to Pin” virtual golf tournament, having played an excellent shot that landed just 1.98 metres away from the pin.
McLaws received an official invitation to the Iskandar Johor Open Pro-Am on the Dec 11.
Edwin Tan and Chai Chin Fat came in second and third, respectively. They both received season passes to catch the exciting action at Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club, Johor.
Speaking on his victory, McLaws said he felt great to have won.
“It feels great to have won as this would be my very first Pro-Am invitation. I’m really excited to be joining the Iskandar Johor Open 2012.”
When asked about whom he would like to play against at Horizon Hills, he said he was most definitely looking forward to playing against Malaysian golfer Danny Chia.
IMG golf division senior vice-president Grant Slackhighlighted the Iskandar Johor Open’s intent at promoting golf to the masses.
“Over the last 10 years, we have all seen the significant increase in the popularity of golf for both players and spectators, and we wanted to demonstrate how easy and accessible it is to fall in love with the sport,” he said.
“Tonight’s event is an opportunity to take the event to a new location in Kuala Lumpur through the wonders of virtual golf and give some of the local celebrities and media a chance to experience some golfing action first-hand in the luxury of the City Golf environment,” he added.
“We are also offering free entry for children under 18 years old accompanied by an adult at this year’s tournament and we hope that this will help to instil interest among the youths in the exciting world of professional golf,” he said.
The Iskandar Johor Open runs from Dec 13-16, 2012. Now in its sixth year, the tournament offers a prize purse of US$2 million (RM6.2 million), making it one of the fastest growing and most prestigious golfing events in Asia.
Europe’s Ryder Cup hero Sergio Garcia of Spain, Asian Tour legend Thongchai Jaidee, former world No.1 Ernie Els, and international star Michael Campbell are among the 120 playing field in this year’s edition, presented by Iskandar Waterfront Development.
As the season-ending event, Thongchai and other Asian Tour players will be vying to rake in valuable points in a bid to claim the coveted Order of Merit crown which denotes Asia’s No.1 player.
Last year’s event saw Dutchman Joost Luiten claim the prestigious Iskandar Johor Open trophy and his maiden professional victory. He went home with a cheque for US$333,330, which propelled him to his highest world ranking position of 66th in the world.
Luiten joined a prestigious list of tournament winners which in-cludes Korea’s K.J. Choi (2009) and South Africa’s Retief Goosen (2008). Other leading names that have featured in Johor previously include Scotsman Colin Montgo-merie, American Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas of Colombia.
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