SPORTS

Lee Tees-Off As A Pro

Young Fijian Sam Lee has earned a place in the prestigious Fijian International in October. Teeing up in the Fijian International local qualifying, 25-year-old Lee emerged victorious after two challenging
11 Aug 2015 07:37
Lee Tees-Off As A Pro

Young Fijian Sam Lee has earned a place in the prestigious Fijian International in October.

Teeing up in the Fijian International local qualifying, 25-year-old Lee emerged victorious after two challenging rounds on the tournament layout at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course.

For his efforts Lee is now rewarded with the biggest opportunity of his short professional career, a good performance at the Fijian International could launch what is sure to be a successful career in golf.

The winner of the million dollar Fijian International walks away with not only an impressive prize cheque, but the opportunity to play all tournaments on OneAsia and the PGA Tour of Australasia until 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Lee competed in the inaugural Fijian International as an amateur, but since last August he has turned professional having earned status on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

Having competed in two tournaments so far in his rookie season, Lee has showed some glimpses of great play highlighted by an opening round of 3-under 69 at the New Zealand PGA Championship in March.

Fiji’s former number 1 amateur, Lee has a bright future ahead of him and it could begin at the Fijian International making him an exciting prospect to watch in October.

Also joining Lee in the Fijian International is Anasa Seruvatu from Suva. An exceptional story, Seruvatu was first introduced to golf as a caddy at the Fiji Golf Club before he worked his way up through the amateur ranks and is now a professional.

Without a doubt this will be a career highlight for Seruvatu who will be teeing it up alongside some of the best golfers in the world. He will be gracing the fairways with the likes of 13-time international winner Stephen Leaney and defending champion Steve Jeffress.

Bill Suguturaga from Denarau is more used to giving golf lessons than taking on the world’s best, but thanks to his solid performance at local qualifying, he has the opportunity to show off his skills on the golf course.

The final local qualifier, Suguturaga has been with playing and teaching holidaymakers in Fiji for 15 years, but in October he will be delighting crowds with his shot making skills at the Fijian International.

Lee, Seruvatu and Suguturaga will be joined at the Fijian International by countryman Tomasi Tuivana who earned his place in the field earlier in the year as the highest placed Fijian at the Fiji Open.

With four Fijians qualified for the Fijian International this already matches the number who competed in the inaugural tournament with the PGA of Australia hoping to see more locals exempt into the field in the coming months.

An increased number of Fijians competing at the Fijian International is one part of the PGA’s plan to grow the game of golf in the country.

“In 2014 we had four Fijian golfers teeing it up in the inaugural Fijian International, this year we aim to see this number increase,” said Simon Butterly, general manager – Tournament Division for the PGA Tour of Australasia.

“Through the Fijian International, a number of young Fijian’s are exposed to golf. We want to provide them with role models to look up to and aspire to be like.

“Vijay Singh continues to inspire a number of people to take up the game, but we want to find that next Fijian star to encourage future golfers.”

Graeme Bell, the head of the Fiji Professional Golf Association also recognises the importance of increasing the number of playing opportunities through initiatives such as local qualifying.

“We are appreciative of the PGA of Australia allowing us to have these player exemptions for the Fijian International as young players around the world would love to have the opportunity to try and qualify for this event,” said Bell.

“I hope that our local players appreciate what is being done for them by all the golf associations that are involved.

“We at the FPGA and NGAF wish our players all the very best for the tournament in October as it is a unique opportunity for them to rub shoulders with some of the best players in the world.”



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