In a move that reflects Siem Reap’s burgeoning golfing status, The Asian Tour has named Angkor Golf Resort as the venue for the inaugural Handa-Faldo Cambodian Classic set for March 14-17.
The new US$300,000 event has softened the blow the Kingdom’s golfing community was dealt after the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open was dropped from the Tour calender late last year, ending a glorious four-year run.
By a twist of happy coincidence, the Angkor Golf Resort, which ranks among the 1,000 best golfing facilities in the World, has been designed by former World No 1 Nick Faldo, who is also the chief patron for the Cambodian Classic.
“The entire team at the resort is very excited and deeply honoured to host this event. We feel by staging an Asian Tour event we will be raising AGR's profile in the international golf community,” the resort’s general manager Adam Robertson told the Post in an exclusive interview yesterday.
“Considering the decision to host the event was confirmed on February 9, we have not done much to change or prepare what is already in the eyes of the Asian Tour a beautiful and true championship course. The only request from the Asian Tour was to grow the rough.”
The resort has also made it plain that there will not be any alterations to the existing facilities, with the Asian Tour convinced that the driving range is among the best there is for hosting a professional event of this stature. Except for the addition of a few tents, the clubhouse structure will remain unchanged.
“The Asian Tour is very well organised when it comes to events like these. So much of the burden falls on them. However, so long as we ensure the course is in top condition and the weather remains dry, we are in for an exciting tournament,” added Robertson.
The Angkor Golf Resort is a course designed to test a golfer at all levels. That is the fundamental element in Nick Faldo’s design, which also ensures creativity in a player's shot making and decision process.
“This is why we have so many repeat guests playing the course. They never get weary of playing at the AGR,” said the general manager.
Every golf course has secrets of its own and Robertson, himself a keen amateur golfer, let some of those out.
The par fives are said to be long and challenging with Hole 3 being the longest at 606 yards. The par threes are no pushovers either, with all four measuring more than 180 yards.
Water also plays a huge part of play at the AGR, with all 18 holes featuring water hazards, demanding care and accuracy on the part of a golfer.
“Personally, I feel closing holes are the ultimate tests. Holes 13, 14, 15, 16 are stern tests in any event,” said Robertson.
“Nick Faldo combines risk and reward with some great decision making on these closing holes. I think that is where the Cambodian classic will be won and lost.”