Han blog: New countries, same goals

Our 2015 season is starting to go into full-steam mode and good news continue to swing the Asian Tour on the upward trend.

We recently announced a return into Vietnam following a seven-year lapse for the inaugural US$1.5 million Ho Tram Open which will be played at The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip, which is a two-hour drive south of Ho Chi Minh city.

Following up on that terrific news, the inaugural Bashundhara Bangladesh Open was also launched to make it five new Asian Tour tournaments in our 2015 season.

It is always exciting when we visit a new country and Bangladesh is a country which we’ve heard a lot about, thanks to our Asian Tour star Siddikur Rahman.

One of the goals of the Asian Tour is to unearth future stars of the game and Siddikur is one of the rare gems who have crafted a superb career by playing and enjoying great success on the region’s premier Tour.

His rags-to-riches tale is well known to many and his down-to-earth personality has earned him plenty of fans across Asia.

The Asian Tour has not visited the cricket-loving nation of Bangladesh before but in 2011, the Asian Development Tour (ADT) staged a tournament at the Kurmitola Golf Club, which is also the venue for the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open and the home course to Siddikur.

Who won the ADT event? You guessed it right – Siddikur triumphed by a massive 12-shot margin!

The staging of an Asian Tour tournament takes a lot of planning and deliberation but it is our hope and goal that the sponsors, golf fans and the local players take home the wealth of knowledge and experience by watching and playing with the best from Asia.

When we visit Vietnam and Bangladesh, we hope to inspire more juniors to take up the game of golf and follow in the footsteps of our Asian Tour stars like Thongchai Jaidee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Anirban Lahiri.

Vietnam has a lot of potential to have a golf star of their own but their professional golfers need to be exposed to more international golf tournaments. We hope that our presence in these emerging golf nations will inspire the youngsters and hopefully one day, we will find many more Bangladeshi champions on the Asian Tour and celebrate a first Vietnamese winner on our Tour.

With golf returning into the Olympic programme, we are also hopeful that our presence in Vietnam and Bangladesh will spur the nations’ push to get their professional golfers into future Olympic Games, if not in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

You certainly don’t have to look far for inspiration. Siddikur is a golfing hero in Bangladesh and you can expect him to fly his country’s flag proudly for many more years to come. I remember when he played in the ADT event three years ago, he received rock star treatment by fans at Kurmitola.

On the international stage, Thongchai and Anirban have enjoyed some good results by making the cut in year’s first Major tournament and produced battling performances at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play. The Thai and Indian won one out of three matches but did well to push their opponents to the limits.

Things are certainly looking positive on the Asian Tour with new tournaments joining our Schedule and our members featuring prominently on the global stage. Now we will hang tight and watch new talents breakthrough.