Golf

Fiji Open: Lee Ready To Defend Title

“It attracted entries of top golfers from Australia and New Zealand just like today. Peter Creigton became the first amateur to win the Open in 1979. Today only four locals have etched their names to the title including Mukesh Chand (1998), Salesh Chand (2002) Marika Batibasaga (2005 – 2006) and Sam Lee (2018).”
30 May 2019 10:43
Fiji Open: Lee Ready To Defend Title
Golfer Sam Lee is set to defend the Fiji Open title.

Nadi based- professional golfer Sam Lee is in top form as he looks forward to retaining the Vuksich & Borich sponsored 49th Fiji Men’s Golf Open Championship title at the Denarau Golf and Racquet Club which tee’s off tomorrow.

The professionals will compete for the $40, 000 in prize money while the amateurs play for prizes worth over $5000 during the three-day event (54 holes).

Lee won the Rum Co of Fiji Pro- Am over 36 Holes stroke event at the same venue over the weekend.

“I played solid first round and made few putts,” he said.

“Second round I played okay but my putts didn’t drop at all. I had a good competition with Roneel (Prakash)l who came in second.

“He was very close to me up until the last hole where I birdied to go two shots ahead. It is very good to see that he has improved in the last few years.

“It was a good warm up event for the Fiji Open this week. Hopefully I can improve on my putting.

“I believe this year we have less pros from overseas, perhaps because we don’t give a spot for the Fiji International. Still it will be a good competition, will just have to do my part and perform.”

Denarau Golf Club manager Amitesh Chandra said there is an impressive field of players registered.

“There is an interesting history associated with the Fiji Open as it was the first championship hosted in the entire South pacific in 1970,” he said.

“Jim Hanley was president of the Fiji Golf Association at that time. The Open Champion received a miniature of the Championship Rose Bowl, the tournament champion’s blazer and the prize money.

“It attracted entries of top golfers from Australia and New Zealand just like today. Peter Creigton became the first amateur to win the Open in 1979. Today only four locals have etched their names to the title including Mukesh Chand (1998), Salesh Chand (2002) Marika Batibasaga (2005 – 2006) and Sam Lee (2018).”

Chandra said among the big names in the field is 39-year-old Gareth Paddison, who have also won the Fiji Open in 2016.

He thanked the sponsors (cash) Vuksich & Borich $25, 000, Blueridge Pluming $4000, BTS $1500, Smugglers Cove $2500 and Cardo’s $3000. Also there were kind sponsorship from Marriott International, Tappoo Group and FIJI Water.

History

The history of this event however is different. The inaugural Air New Zealand Fiji Open was staged at the Fiji Golf Club, Vatuwaqa Suva on November 14 – 15, 1970.

Future Open dates were subsequently changed to the bank holiday long weekend in August.

The first Open was 54 holes stroke play subsequently made in the following years to a 72 holes tournament to comply with International Open standards. Prize money was set at $2000 for the inaugural Open Championship.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: waisean@fijisun.com.fj



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