SPORTS

Chand Bringing Fans Home With Fiji Airways

Pursuing a professional golf playing career from Fiji had been challenging until now, thanks to the Fiji International’s presenting partner Fiji Airways, local legend Dinesh Chand will be seeing more
20 Jul 2018 10:00
Chand Bringing Fans Home With Fiji Airways
Dinesh Chand

Pursuing a professional golf playing career from Fiji had been challenging until now, thanks to the Fiji International’s presenting partner Fiji Airways, local legend Dinesh Chand will be seeing more of his home country from now on.

Chand, a three-time winner on the Japan Tour, will tee up in this year’s event for the fifth time but it won’t be his first – or last trip – to Fiji this year.

A long-time resident of Japan, Chand was excited by a Fiji Airways announcement last year that the airline would begin direct flights to Tokyo from July and was among the first to take advantage.

Now at the back end of his playing career, Chand is keen to explore other opportunities in the golf industry and hosting groups of Japanese golfers on trips to his homeland has already proved a hit.

Chand wasted no time teeing up his first tour taking a group of 25 players on one of the first flights between Tokyo and Nadi.

“It’s turned a 16-hour flight into a nine-hour flight,” he said, “and that makes Fiji a very attractive destination.

“Hawaii has traditionally been a popular destination for golfers travelling from Japan but I think after the feedback I’ve already had, Fiji will certainly be an option from now on.

“We took a group of 25 the first week Fiji Airways began the direct flights and they loved everything about the country, including the golf.”

He said while the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course, host of the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways, was popular so, too, was the different culture.

“It would be hard to find two more different places than Japan and Fiji,” he said.

“Everything in Japan moves so fast and everything in Fiji doesn’t. All the golfers on our first trip fell in love with that as much as the golf.

“It was completely different to what they’re used to and I think as word gets out among players over in Japan we will see a lot of interest from Japan’s golfers.”

It’s been 30 years since Chand lived in Fiji and opportunities to visit his home country have been rare for much of that time.

But the launch of the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways five years ago has meant at least one trip back to his homeland each year and it’s an opportunity he has understandably grabbed with both hands.

“Just to play a professional event of this calibre in my home country is unbelievable,” he said.

“For so long Vijay and myself have been the only two Fiji golfers playing on the world stage but almost never at home.

“Just the chance to play in front of the local people means everything and hopefully my golf will be a bit better this year, too.”

Chand hasn’t yet produced his best in his five appearances in the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways but has been working hard in the lead up to the 2018 tournament and is quietly confident.

He knows form can turn around quickly at the top level and at 46-years-old says while he can’t keep up with the power game played by the young guns of world golf he has experience on his side.

“At a course like Natadola Bay the wind can be a big factor and that evens out the physical side a bit,” he says.

“When conditions get very windy the game is less about powerful hitting and more about discipline and patience, and experience can be a big bonus in those circumstances.

“I’m really looking forward to the 2018 tournament, especially having been at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course just recently.

“The course is just so spectacular. I can’t think of another place in the world where you can see the ocean from 15 holes on the course. It really is special.”

A good performance from Chand in this year’s tournament would no doubt be popular but PGA of Australia CEO Gavin Kirkman said the Fijian’s new business venture was equally important to the people of the region.

“These are exactly the sort of associated ventures that make a tournament like the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways so important,” he said.

“Fiji Airways are to be congratulated for expanding their direct flights into Japan and Dinesh is to be congratulated for taking advantage of that opportunity to promote his home country.

“But ultimately it is the people of Fiji who stand to benefit most from that partnership and we are proud that the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways has played a part in helping that happen.

“The Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways has placed Fiji on the world golfing map, via the global broadcast which has tripled since 2014, but Fiji Airways is opening this golfing paradise to the world.”

 

About Fiji International Presented By Fiji Airways

Vijay Singh

Vijay Singh

To be held from 2-5 August 2018, the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways will be played at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course which boasts breathtaking views of the Coral Coast and is home to the Natadola Beach Land Estate.

Enticed by the tropical destination, the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways has attracted some of the world’s best golfers since its inaugural staging in 2014, including Fijian hero and three-time Major champion Vijay Singh, 2017 champion Jason Norris, 2016 champion Brandt Snedeker, 2015 champion Matt Kuchar and 2014 champion Steven Jeffress, Steven Bowditch, Boo Weekley and Nick Price.

This year’s tournament is set to feature four-time Major champion and Captain of the International Team for the 2019 Presidents Cup, Ernie Els.

In 2018, the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways continues to have a global presence confirming its position as an integral tournament in the South Pacific region, with the tournament being tri-sanctioned by the European Tour, ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and Asian Tour.

A Pacific paradise, the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways also boasts some of the most unique hospitality options in world golf with the par-3 8th hole providing the perfect vantage point to watch the golf, whilst socialising on the beach.

More than just a golf tournament, the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways aims to leave a lasting legacy for golf in the Pacific region, with the PGA of Australia supporting initiatives to introduce and grow the game in Fiji.

Owned by Sports and Entertainment (SEL) and the PGA of Australia, the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways is proudly supported by the Fijian Government, Tourism Fiji and the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa as the official resort of the tournament.

 

-Fiji International Presented by Fiji Airways

Feedback:  oseab@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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