15 January 2011

Golf in Vietnam

Thu Duc Garden Homes Invitational attracted 122 players from around Vietnam.

And so, a course record fell as Vietnam’s top amateur tournament was held from January 7-9 at Danang Golf Club.

The format was conducted in 36 holes of stroke play and, as one might expect, three of the five Asian Tour representatives claimed top honors. Australian Unho Park’s 139 led the field, thanks to Sunday’s closing 69, a new course record from the championship Shark Tees at 8-month-old, Greg Norman-designed Danang GC. Lam Chih Bing of Singapore finished two strokes back while Vietnam’s own Tran Le Duy Nhat placed third at 146.

The individual competitions were broken out into five separate divisions:

• Amateur Gross (no handicap)

• Amateur Net (maximum handicap: 13)

• Vietnam National Team Open (no handicap)

• Professional (local and regional tours)

• VIP (with handicap)

Earning Amateur Gross honors was Vietnam Golf & Country Club’s Nguyen Ngoc Khoi, whose 74 on Saturday and 73 Sunday which gave him a 7 shot victory over this strong field. The Amateur Net champion was Le Ngoc Tu of Montgomerie Links, who plays off 12 and posted 135 over the two days.

Lau A Tay, playing out of Dong Nai GC, earned top spot among Vietnam National Team Open entrants, posting 82-78, while Vo Viet Thanh of Vietnam Golf & Country Club earned the VIP title with a net score of 140.

“The tournament was a qualified success in terms of the quality and depth of the field, the atmosphere and the venue. Even the weather cooperated!” said FOREGolf Asia Managing Director Jeff Puchalski. “It absolutely poured rain on Friday morning, the day we were supposed to have played practice rounds. That makes one nervous, of course, but Saturday and Sunday were both perfect for golf.

Puchalski reserved special praise for the Dunes Course at Danang Golf Club, General Manager Howie Roberts, and his staff. This Norman design was recently cited by GOLF Magazine as one of the top 15 new courses to open worldwide in 2010, and none of the competitors in January are about to disagree.

“Everyone loved the course and the Asian Tour players frankly raved,” Puchalski said. “The playing conditions could not have been better and the staff at Danang GC was superb. Their personalized service made the event really special.”

“Unho Park ultimately took the top prize, on Sunday, but the atmosphere late Sunday morning — when we held a sudden-death putt-off to gain the final —was electric. There were 122 people, the entire field, gathered around the putting green at Danang, living and dying with every stroke,” Puchalski said.

The two days of competition offered dozens of compelling storylines all their own, but special attention was paid to the hole-in-one competitions on account of what was at stake. A finer collection of prizes would be hard to find anywhere in Asia, unfortunately nobody won them:

• Host Danang Golf Club put up a two-year membership

• Course supplier Jebsen & Jessen offered Club Car golf cart, or $5000 USD in cash

• Local auto company Auto Do Thanh put up a straight cash prize of 100,000,000 VND

• Tournament host Le Quang Liem, General Director of Thu Duc Garden Homes, offered one of his company’s villas valued at $360,000 USD

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