Chong Wei eyes world title next

Badminton star tips No. 2 Iskandar to 
lead M'sia's charge at Tokyo Olympics

"Send letters… do they think we are lovers? No. I never got any (letter). That was a lie. I never wrote any (letter), and he (Lin Dan) never wrote any letter." — Malaysian badminton star Lee Chong Wei (above) on a letter, which contains expression of admiration from his rival Lin Dan, which had gone viral online
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Tags: Malaysia, sport and Olympics

Murray in the groove

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Tags: Tennis

Fed, Rafa on the same side

Leading duo to play doubles in Ryder Cup-style team event

RYDER CUP-STYLED TOURNEY: (From left) Rafael Nadal, Rod Laver and Roger Federer at the launch of the Laver Cup, which will be played annually except in an Olympic season.
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Sutijet stays in pole after a 66

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Tags: Golf, Asia and sport

Euro rookies in for 'rude' reception at Ryder Cup

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Tags: Golf, europe and sport

Thai golf on the ascendancy

While the region suffers from golf's decline, Pattaya helps country with great packages

PATTAYA'S BEST: The Laem Chabang International Country Club (above) has a championship course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

At a time when golf is struggling to maintain its grip and status as a premier sport in the region, Thailand has upped the ante on a game from which it has achieved considerable success.

The number of golf courses in China - and Singapore - is dwindling, Indonesia and Malaysia are working towards checking the slide and the Philippines and Hong Kong have seen golf lose some lustre.

India, despite producing some world-class golfers, such as Anirban Lahiri - groomed mainly from a lucrative domestic circuit - is working towards translating this success phenomenon into increasing the number of players in a country where golf is viewed as a rich-man's sport.

Meanwhile, Vietnam and Myanmar are developing some new courses, while a little apathy towards the game is restricting Laos and Cambodia from gaining some ground as the game is relatively cheap to play there.

But Thailand, the country that has produced some world-class players in Thongchai Jaidee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Prayad Marksaeng, is enjoying a boon, thanks to the sincere and coordinated efforts of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) which is promoting the game further in the country with its regular marketing efforts.

As Visanu Jaroensilp, TAT's deputy governor for tourism products and business, recently said: "Building on the tremendous success of last year's Travel Mart, this year's edition helps strengthen Thailand's premier position as a world-class golf destination and, as a result, attract more golfers to the country."

The Thailand Golf Travel Mart 2016 in Pattaya last month was attended by more than 300 participants, including some 165 specialist golf holiday buyers invited by 27 TAT's overseas offices.

The participants had the opportunity to discuss prospect businesses with about 92 Thai sellers from golf courses and service providers like golf schools, equipment retailers, travel agents and tour operators, hotels, spa operators and other related businesses.

I was among 42 local and international media invited by the TAT to gain insights into the event, as well as Thailand's myriad of offers for golf holidays.

Visanu said: "Thanks to Thailand's tropical climate, our country is in all-year round playing condition. There is a wide choice of golf courses; more than 200 courses with superb facilities and choices of unbeatable courses designed by leading professionals, along with a wide range of accommodation to comfort golfers after teeing off."

The Thai vision is to blend golf with its other attractions, such as the sun, sea, food and entertainment - all at relatively reasonable prices when compared with some countries in the region.

POPULAR

The choice of Pattaya golf courses makes the Eastern Seaboard area of Thailand a very popular destination for golf holidaymakers from around the world.

With over 20 courses to choose from, Pattaya is one of the most diverse areas for playing golf in Thailand.

Many Thai golfers from Bangkok reside in Pattaya in their weekend homes. Several fine international restaurants from Bangkok also have sister operations in Pattaya.

Sensing the demand for more upscale accommodation, many international five-star hotels have opened in Pattaya, thus providing lodging alternatives at every price point and standard of luxury.

The resorts provide plenty of relaxation and allow all golfers to enjoy a golf holiday in Pattaya.

Pattaya itself has 24 golf courses, each offering different scenarios for golf fanatics.

During the five-day trip, the media were given opportunities to play in three courses.

The first game was at Parichat International Golf Links, located 30 minutes from Pattaya.

It is a pretty course, but one where you needed a bucketful of balls as the ponds and lakes were placed at ideal locations to do damage to your game. So managing your game is the secret to success here.

Next stop was Pattana Golf Club and Resort, located north-east of Pattaya in Chonburi Province. It is one of only a few self-contained Thailand golf resorts integrating a 27-hole layout with a large clubhouse, sports stadium, conference centre, heliport and on-site accommodation.

The highlight of the three-day Golf Travel Mart - apart from interaction and buyer-meet-seller sessions - was a golf tournament at both Burapha Golf Club and Laem Chabang International Country Club.

I played at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Laem Chabang layout, a picturesque championship course considered the best layout in Pattaya and truly one of Thailand's finest.

The course aside, I must add that the female caddies were thoroughly efficient, as they not only knew the game but also spoke good English.

Tags: Golf, thailand and sport

Tiger's influence at Ryder Cup

Europe's vice-captain Torrance 
says Love's deputy Woods will 
have big influence on US

Ryder Cup winning captain Sam Torrance is in Singapore as a special guest for the Julius Baer Golf Classic, to be held at the Sentosa Golf Club this year. Torrance will conduct a golf clinic for a selected group of participants before the corporate tournament. The Swiss bank has been running its Julius Baer Golf Classic since 2009, hosting more than 1,000 guests to date.

People have seen what Tiger Woods the golfer can do on the course, but no one has seen what the American can do as a tactician.

As one of United States captain Davis Love III's four deputies at the Ryder Cup battle at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota next month, Woods, 40, will no doubt have a big influence on the team, said Sam Torrance.

But the 2002 Ryder Cup-winning Europe captain is unsure what the former world No. 1, who is unfit to play, will bring to the team strategically.

"It would be interesting to see what Tiger thinks, because we've never heard what he thinks before," said the 63-year-old Scot at the Capella Singapore last night.

Torrance is in town to grace the Julius Baer Golf Classic today at the Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course.

"He has been their main man and he is not going to give his secrets away. We are not going to hear what influence he has on the team, but I am sure it would be big - he is a huge figure. But he's not playing," Torrance, added with a roguish smile.

It was only natural that Torrance, who played in eight Ryder Cups and won four times as a player, would be confident that Europe will once again retain their title this year and extend their winning streak to four campaigns.

Europe have already confirmed the nine qualifiers - Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Andy Sullivan, Chris Wood, Danny Willett, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Captain Darren Clarke will make three picks on Tuesday to complete the team. Torrance is one of Clarke's four vice-captains this year, joining Thomas Bjorn, Padraig Harrington, Paul Lawrie and Ian Poulter, and he refused to give anything away on Clarke's three captain's picks.

Torrance said: "You have to look at the nine qualifiers you have and fit the best three players for that nine players. We'd need some experience, so some experienced players will be picked."

While attention will be on big names such as McIlroy, Rose, Stenson and Garcia to perform for Europe, Torrance said anyone can be decisive for Europe in the upcoming contest of the continents.

"There were many magnificent moments in the last campaign," said Torrance, who was also the vice-captain in 2014.

"Graeme McDowell, coming back to beat Jordan Spieth in the first singles match on Sunday. It was a huge, huge start in the singles; if he had lost, it would have been a downer for the team."

MOST MEMORABLE

Having been in numerous Ryder Cup campaigns both as a player and as a backroom staff, Torrance counts Europe's 2002 victory, where he was captain, as his most memorable.

"It was the best week of my life in golf, by a million miles. I didn't have to play and that was a big reason," he recounted, laughing.

"It is very difficult to be in the Ryder Cup and be completely yourself and relaxed. But, as the captain, I was never more relaxed in a golf tournament."

He explained that he had done all the work to be done before the tournament, but the only thing that worried him was the speeches he had to give, both at the opening and closing ceremonies.

"You'd want to look at your captain (giving the speech) and feel pride, he'd have to be perfect."

Thus, Torrance had the actual rostrum that was to be used at The Belfry delivered to his garage and, for three to four hours the entire week before the tournament, he would practise and record his speeches until he could recite them backwards.

"That was the hardest I've had to work for anything. Golf is easy," he said, laughing.

It would be interesting to see what Tiger thinks, because we’ve never heard what he thinks before.

— Sam Torrance on what Tiger Woods can offer strategically

Tags: Singapore, sport and Golf

Shock!

Accrington, Fulham claim EPL scalps

OUT THEY GO: David Nugent's (top, in blue) goal for Middlesbrough is not enough to stop his side tumbling out of the League Cup, a fate also suffered by Burnley, after Accrington Stanley's Matthew Pearson scores the winner in extra time.
OUT THEY GO: David Nugent's goal for Middlesbrough is not enough to stop his side tumbling out of the League Cup, a fate also suffered by Burnley, after Accrington Stanley's Matthew Pearson (left, No. 2) scores the winner in extra time.
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China's richest man warns of splurge on football

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Barca complete Cillessen signing

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