PETALING JAYA: There could be an extra spring in the steps of the local professional golfers when they begin their assault on the US$1mil purse in the Iskandar Johor Open golf tournament at the Royal Johor Country Club next weekend.
At least, that is the view of Malaysian professional golfer R. Nachimuthu after coming out smiling from a meeting between local professional golfers and Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek on Tuesday.
The Minister has pledged to revive the image of local pros in the country.
For a start, there will be at least 15 local tournaments in the country next year to keep the pros on their toes and there will be more than a million ringgit pumped into the game to make the local pro Tour a success.
Nachimuthu said that the local pros were looking forward to a revival in their fortunes.
“There used to be internal problems among the local pros but everything has been resolved after a meeting with the Minister,” said Nachimuthu.
“Next year, there will be at least 15 local tournaments for the pros. In fact, foreigners will also be invited to compete in our tournaments to make it competitive. It will be good times for the pros in Malaysia again.
“The Iskandar Johor Open is the first tournament that the local pros will be competing in since the good news was announced by the Minister. I am sure all of us will be in good morale.”
The 38-year-old Nachimuthu managed to get a slot to play in the Iskandar Johor Open after finishing among the top 10 out of 55 in the qualifying tournament at the venue last week.
“This year, the tournament will be very challenging. A lot of top Asian and European golfers will be coming to our shores. I have not set any targets but I have been hitting well and I really hope to do well this time,” he said.
The top golfers in the fray are defending champion Retief Goosen of South Africa, Thailand Open champion Jyoti Randhawa of India, South Korean star Choi Kyung-ju and Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng.
Australians Rick Kulacz and Darren Beck, both winners on the Asian Tour this year, will also be looking for a slice of the prize money in the Johor Open.