Vinaka Vakalevu Fiji!

Another wonderful Fiji International has come to an end after an amazing week of golf on a one of the world’s most beautiful courses surrounded by some of the most
22 Oct 2015 09:00
Vinaka Vakalevu Fiji!
PGA of Australia CEO and Fiji International Commisioner Brian Thorburn (left), 2015 Fiji International winner Matt Kuchar and Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Another wonderful Fiji International has come to an end after an amazing week of golf on a one of the world’s most beautiful courses surrounded by some of the most welcoming people.
It was a case of the cream rising to the top as American Matt Kuchar, the highest ranked player in the field showed his dominance to win the title with a tournament total of 4-under 284.
While winning a tournament anywhere in the world is an exceptional achievement, the Fiji International will hold a special place in the heart of Kuchar who had his father caddying for him and his whole family watching on the sidelines.
“Fiji is one of those places that I think everyone has on their bucket list of amazing places to go,” Kuchar said.
“The people here live up to all they are known to be, they are just as nice as can be. I think that is such a big selling point for Fiji, how amazingly friendly the local people are, it really gives you that warm feeling where you do want to come back.”
“We’ve had an amazing time in Fiji and you probably don’t have to twist my arm too hard to get me back to Fiji. It’s been a great week and certainly it’s a destination I enjoy getting back to,” added Kuchar who will be spruiking the merits of Fiji to his fellow Tour players.
“I will certainly be sharing my feelings with everybody. To be able to come to Fiji, play a golf tournament, contend and try to win a golf tournament is a fun way to spend a week.”
The Fiji International brings hundreds of golf fans to the country each year and 2015 was no different. More than 120 international players, along with around 60 players’ families and caddies are joined on the Island by PGA of Australia and Sports and Entertainment Limited staff and more than 85 broadcast TV crew and International media while almost 50 golf fans from New Zealand and Australia make the trip to volunteer at the tournament bringing in around $735,000 for the week in accommodation costs and an estimated $1m in total.
Local suppliers and sponsors make a huge contribution to the tournament with the 2015 players lounge fitted out by Fijian Made, Intercontinental providing all of the food and beverage catering and of course the Fijian Rum and Victoria Wines products were flowing in the VIP areas!
PGA of Australia CEO and Fiji International Commissioner Brian Thorburn said he was delighted with the success of the 2015 tournament and thanked the Fijian people and Government for their incredible hospitality.
“Once again the Fijian community have come out and shown us why you are known as some of the friendliest and most welcoming people in the world. We love our time in Fiji and our aim is to contribute to the local community while also putting on a world class golf tournament.”
“Not only was the tournament a great success on the course, but it was also very beneficial to the country in several ways. The PGA of Australia estimates that over $1million of direct spending was injected into the local economy through accommodation, meals, equipment and infrastructure. That’s a terrific boost for business in Fiji.”
“Putting aside the television coverage of the golf itself, hundreds of press and internet articles have spread the Fiji’s name and picturesque views right across the world. For example, In Asia, we’ve seen media coverage in Singapore, Malaysia, Taipei, Korea and Japan along with the Middle East, across Europe and very extensive coverage across the United States, so the awareness of Fiji as a golfing destination has definitely been enhanced through this tournament,” said Thorburn.
“The goodwill and reputation of Fiji from new Brand ambassadors such as Matt Kuchar is invaluable. He’ll be talking to fellow players, and will inevitably be interviewed on high rating US Golf shows about the tournament, which will add further credence to Fiji’s global reputation.”
“It’s been a great week. It’s been so much fun to have the family here and have Dad caddying for me,” said Kuchar following his victory. “To finish on top has really made it an excellent week, one I’m sure I’ll never forget.”
For Kuchar who has won seven titles on the PGA TOUR, winning tournaments around the globe has always been a goal and the Fiji International becomes his first individual victory on international soil. “It is certainly a great thing to do, to pad the resume and add worldwide wins. I am certainly envious of the guys who have a big number of wins that include worldwide wins,” said Kuchar who can now count himself among those players.
While Kuchar may have stolen the limelight with the victory, national hero Vijay Singh provided some highlights of his own.
In the final round, Singh fired a new course record of 7-under 65 at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Club of which he has grand plans for.
“I played solid and it wasn’t a difficult 7-under, I’m happy with it,” said Singh who thanks to that round finished the tournament outright third, an improvement on his tied 10th finish in 2014.
“It’s an incredible place the setting is unbelievable. When it reopens I want it to have a wow factor, I am going to take my time to redo it the way I planned to do it in the beginning. I just heard that it’s got the go ahead so I am just so excited about that.”
Thorburn said having Vijay Singh participate in the tournament last year and again this year he felt that the tournament had reconnected him with his country.
“Watching him engage with the acting Prime Minister and Attorney General, it was clear to me that his national pride and empathy for his country really shone through and I’ve never seen him happier. Beating the course record by 2 shots, highlights just how good a golfer he is, and I think this tournament has really brought a Fijian icon to the fore.”

SEE YOU IN 2016!

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