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Major Players At Fiji International

Major Players At Fiji International
Boo Weekley playing in this year’s Fiji International. Photo: Fiji International
July 20
10:18 2017

Golf’s oldest and most sought after trophy, the Claret Jug is up for grabs this week at The 146th Open Championship held at Royal Birkdale with a sprinkling of Fiji International players chasing a Major title.

Ten players are confirmed starters for both The Open and enter for the Fiji International at Natadola Bay on August 17-20 adding some real star power to the tri-sanctioned tournament.

Australians Matthew Griffin, Ashley Hall and Andrew Dodt, New Zealanders Ryan Fox and Michael Hendry, Thai players Phachara Khongwatmai and Prayad Marksaeng, South Africans Jbe Kruger and Dylan Frittelli and Indian Shiv Kapur will likely compete in both events over the course of the next month.

Fox is arguably the most in form player of the group having just played his way to three top-10 finishes in a row on the European Tour.

This will be Fox’s second appearance at The Open; he made his debut two years ago in 2015.

“I’m very excited. I had an amazing time at St Andrews a couple of years ago and I’m really looking forward to heading to Birkdale,” said Fox

“I feel a lot more experienced this time. I have played in a lot more big events with the top players than two years ago so I’m less overawed and intimidated now.

“It’s also nice to understand how the whole process works this time, hopefully I’ll have a few less nerves and a more stress free experience this time.”

Hendry makes his debut in The Open after qualifying through the Japan Golf Tour earlier this year.

Hendry was victorious at the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open, the first New Zealander to win the event since 2003.

He went onto qualify by finishing runner-up at the Mizuno Open on the lucrative Japan Golf Tour.

“It’s great to be through to The Open. This is the fifth time I’ve played in the Mizuno Open and I’ve never finished outside the top-11, so I’ve come close on a number of occasions,” said Hendry.

“I’ve missed by one shot here at least twice so it’s nice to finally get over the hurdle and get the chance to go and play.”

Victorian Ash Hall makes his second appearance at The Open thanks to a stellar back half to the 2016 season.

He stamped his ticket to Royal Birkdale by finishing in a tie for second position at the Emirates Australian Open, narrowly losing to former World Number 1 Jordan Spieth.

Dodt is the latest of confirmed Fiji International players to qualify for The Open, he too will be making his Major debut after a top-5 finish at the AAM Scottish Open on the European Tour just last week.

“I’m absolutely pumped to be playing in my first Major. It’s taken a while but I finally got there. Qualifying for The Open has been a motivation for the last six months,” Dodt said.

“I’m prepared for playing links golf; it was nice to have the Irish Open last week and then the Scottish Open. I played Royal Birkdale about 10 years ago, I don’t remember much but we’ll get out there and do our homework.”

For Griffin this will be the first time he has played Royal Birkdale and his first time competing in a Major championship.

“I haven’t played Birkdale before; I’ve spoken to a couple of people about it and done a bit of research on line but it will be the first time I have been there,” said Griffin.

“My strategy will be a little different to a normal tournament I will play more holes on the course because it’s such a different style of course.

“I will play more rounds in preparation rather than practice.”

The Open Championship will be aired on Fiji TV.

The Fiji International will be played at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course on August 17-20.

Entry is free for Fijian residents.

 

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