HONG KONG: Kyrgyzstan’s Aidarali Asanov is, at 51, the third oldest golfers in the 120-man field at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC).
Only 57-year-old Akl Rachid of Lebanon and 52-year-old American Samoan Maifea Malase are older than him.
Asanov, with his single-digit handicap, is easily the finest golfer from the Central Asian nation, which gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Golf is not a popular sport in Kyrgyzstan and the golfing population is less than a hundred in a country with 5.7 million people.
The nine-hole Maple Leaf Golf and Country Club in the southern outskirts of Bishkek, the country's capital, is the one and only golf course there.
“There are no coaches ... everyone is self-taught, so you see a lot of ‘hackers’,” said Asanov.
“There are around 30 locals who play. If you include expats, there are maybe 70 golfers in Kyrgyzstan.”
So Asanov, who will be making his third AAC appearance at the Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club here on Wednesday, is proud to be the only one to fly his country's flag here this week.
“I’ll try to keep up with the young guys, but if I can do better than before (he has never made the cut) ... I'll be happy!” he said.