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Tee-Off Today

Two of the world’s best golfers, Vijay Singh and Nick Price have praised the Fiji International as it starts at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course this morning. Singh called
14 Aug 2014 09:23
Tee-Off Today
Dilkusha Home girls with their teacher after their meke performance on September 16, 2019, at the Dilkusha Home in Nausori. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Two of the world’s best golfers, Vijay Singh and Nick Price have praised the Fiji International as it starts at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course this morning.

Former world number one Nick Price during practice yesterday. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Former world number one Nick Price during practice yesterday. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Singh called for more participation of Fijians in the next tournaments while Price commended the course, Fiji and its people.

Singh was surprised that only four Fijian golfers including amateur Sam Lee are in the tournament,

“I was really surprised about that, to give Fijian golfers a chance without qualifying and if it was in another country, they would give five to ten local golfers,” Singh said at Natadola yesterday.

“I think they should sort that end and give those spots in tournaments in future years.”

The 51-year-old is among a field of 120 in the inaugural event which include Zimbabwean and fellow former World Number One Nick Price.

“It’s been incredible. A lot of people did recognise me this time around when I came here to do the golf course. Maybe a lot of people heard that I am around and it was nice visiting places that you grew up in. I am excited for the tournament since I only come here to visit families.”

Singh was part of the initial planning of the course.

“It was supposed to be built for future tournaments. They did have a couple of events here and my last visit was in 2006. I am happy with the way it is now.”

He said the wind would be their biggest challenge.

“The golf course is exposed to the wind. The greens are elevated with a lot of ventilation changes. From the tee, the fairway to the greens and the wind really blows here,” he said.

Price, on the other hand, praised the Fijian hospitality and predicted that scores would be close.

“It’s one of the prettiest places I’ve been to. I go to the Bahamas a lot and the only other place I’ve seen water this pretty is in the Bahamas and it is (Fiji) a place I’ve always wanted to come to,” Price said.

“This golf course, it’s an absolute gem, all these beautiful views that you have over the golf course, over the ocean. I think the most incredible thing to me is how friendly everyone is. My family and I have been overwhelmed by the hospitality and the friendliness of all the Fijian people.

“It’s fascinating that such a small island nation could produce a golfer like Vijay. I come from a small country, we have a few more golf courses but we have a lot in common that way.

“It’s been a pretty busy last two days, so I’m looking forward to playing some golf. The wind is going to be a factor; there are a couple of holes out there that are very difficult when the wind blows. So, I think if the tour staff, the guys who set up the course, if they’re aware of those difficult holes, it’d be little bit.

“Some of the greens are a bit severe, that’s easily fixed, and that’s not a major issue. This has the potential to be a wonderful golf course, just a bit of changes here and there and just make it a little easier especially for the average folk who come and play it, but how can you, it’s so beautiful out there it’s hard to concentrate on golf half the time.”

Price rates Vijay to win the tournament.

“He’s the one all eyes are on this week. I’d love to see him win it, I really would. I’d love to win it, but let’s put it this way. I’ve got a great future behind me. I’ll be happy if I make the cut and play well this week; playing with young guys. I guess Vijay is 51, so I’ve got him by six years, but I’m going to have fun either way.

“It’s all dependent on the weather and how hard the wind blows. If they set this course up hard then I think the score will be quite high. I agree with Vijay on single digits under par to win so it could be anywhere from 2 – 7, 8 under par.

“Right now I’ll take anything under par, I’d be very happy and I know I’d be close to the lead, I don’t think, even if the wind is as gentle as it is today, it’s still a challenge this golf course.”

Meanwhile other Fijians playing in the tournament include Japan-based Dinesh Chand (professional), and amateur Sam Lee.

Singh could not confirm if he would be part of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

He tees-off with Australian Brendan Jones and veteran Paul Gow at 7.35am.

Price tees-off with Australian Matthew Griffin and Mark Brown from New Zealand at 12.05pm.

Feedback: waisean@fijisun.com.fj

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