Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF) President Tim Trinka has hailed a record Asian presence at the 143rd edition of The Open Championship.
No fewer than 21 players representing seven countries from the region teed-off in the opening round at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
“The fact that we have such a strong Asian presence at Royal Liverpool is a huge boost for the entire industry in Asia,” said Trinka.
“Not only is it testament to the improved standard of Asian players but also a tribute to the efforts that The R&A goes to in order to give a fair chance to professionals from all corners of the globe.
“Having Asian role models for Asian youngsters is crucial to growing the game. If Asian players do well in the Major championships then it’s inevitable you’ll see more people taking up the game which will lead to other positive knock-on effects for the industry.”
As well as eight players from Japan, seven from Korea and two from Thailand, the field includes representatives from China, India, the Philippines and Taiwan.
Trinka believes it’s only a matter of time before a second Asian male Major champion is crowned.
He said: “It’s been almost five years since Yang Yong-eun created history by becoming the first Asian male to win a Major title, defeating Tiger Woods down the stretch in the 2009 US PGA Championship.”
Many believed the Korean’s success would open the floodgates for Asian players to make their mark in the Majors. But that has not proved to be the case. At least not until now.
To this day the best performance by an Asian at The Open was ‘Mr’ Lu Liang-huan’s runner-up finish to Lee Trevino at Royal Birkdale in 1971.
That performance was emulated last week by China’s Feng Shanshan, who ended tied for second in the Ricoh Women’s British Open, also at Royal Birkdale. She was one of three Asians in the top-eight.
Trinka said: “Just imagine what a tremendous lift it would provide to everyone who is associated with the golf industry in the Far East should their male counterparts from Asia fare just as well this week.”
Asian Golf Industry Federation www.agif.asia