Country’s ‘Richest Sporting Event’ Kicks off in Pecatu

PECATU, Bali ~ The Indonesia Open, the annual co-sanctioned European Tour and Asian Tour event held since 2005, got underway here in Pecatu on Thursday, offering prize money of US$1.25 million to some of the world’s leading golfers.

It is being held at the New Kuta Golf Resort on the southwestern rim of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula that overlooks Balangan Beach and the Indian Ocean.

Located near what is renowned as one of the top surfing destinations in the region, the American-designed par-72 golf course measures over 7,500 yards from the championship tees and is the first links-style course in the country, the organizers said.

They said it is Indonesia’s richest prize purse for a sporting event, with total prize money on offer of US$1.25 million, increased from US$1.2 million last year.

The Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open 2009 follows the Johnny Walker Classic in Perth, Australia, and comes a week before the Thailand Open.

Those taking part in Pecatu include Felipe Aguilar (2008 Indonesia Open Champion), Mikko Ilonen (2007 champion), Simon Dyson (2006 champion) and Thaworn Wiratchant (2005 champion) as well as familiar golfing names such as Thongchai Jaidee, Anton Haig, Richard Finch and Daniel Chopra.

Tour officials were upbeat about the mega-event in Bali.

“Bali has always been a favorite destination for European golfers when they come through the region,” said Vicky Jones of the European Tour.

“It will be exciting to play in a tropical paradise that is surrounded with such rich culture and traditions.”

David Parkins of the Asian Tour said it would be good to play on the dramatic new course.

“We have long known the many championship golf courses in Bali, and our players have often played there while on holidays. New Kuta Golf is a new course, so it will be a level playing field for all of us when we tee off during the Indonesia Open.”

Secretary general of the Indonesian Golf Association Zaenal Soedjais said there was ample local talent taking part.

“We are proud to announce a total of 13 Indonesian golfers will be participating at the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open 2009,” he said.

Among them are amateur golfers Suprapto, Ujang Zarem, Fahmi Reza, Hari Budianto, Ian Andrew and Harjito.

“The Indonesian Professional Golf Association is graciously sending Rory Hidayat Hie, Maan Nasim, Ilyassyak, Agusnam, Junaidi Ibrahim and Sarmilih from the professional golfer side,” said Soedjais.

“And as an added bonus, tournament promoter GlobalOne is bringing in Andik Mauluddin, one of our promising amateur golfers who just turned pro this year,” he said.

Last year, amateur golfer Suprapto, along with professionals Denny Supriyadi, Maan Nasim and Ilyassyak, from Indonesia managed to make the cut, an unprecedented achievement since the beginning of the co-sanctioning of the tournament by the European Tour and Asian Tour.

“Last year was one for the record books, as some of our players managed to make the cut,” said Soedjais.

“This year, we have a combination of experienced old hands as well as some talented young bloods that will hopefully do well on the international stage that we are hosting in Bali.”

New Kuta Golf operations director was confident the event would be a success.

“As the venue for this prestigious tournament, we are delighted to attract such world-class players to our new resort. I am confident the players will enjoy our breathtaking views and challenging courses at Bali’s first championship golf course,” he said.

Meanwhile, GlobalOne chief John Eu said the Bali event would add additional cachet to the Indonesia Open.

“We are excited to host this event in Bali, as many people in the world already know its legendary hospitality. Although it is at a new venue, the Indonesia Open continues to be a benchmark for golf tournaments within the country.”

The tournament concludes on March 1.

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