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Golfers play for patriotic bragging rights

Along with all the drinks, awards and good times expected at this weekend’s FCC Nations Cup golf tournament, event organisers also want to contribute something a little less fleeting.

FCC Cambodia has for years supported the Indochina Starfish Foundation, an international charity with a substantial local footprint. ISF offers education and sports opportunities for underprivileged children, and plays an instrumental role in the organisation of the Barclay’s ISF Youth Football League.

The league introduced a girls division in the 2009-2010 season, with host team, the ISF Flying Tigers, not only taking the championship but also captured the interest of overseas FIFA officials, who are now quietly enamored with girls football in Cambodia.

In addition to 36 holes of competitive golf at the Angkor Golf Resort in Siem Reap, players will also be given the opportunity to enter a hole-in-one shootout on Saturday, proceeds from which will be donated to the ISF.

“The hole-in-one is really difficult, and it happens quite rarely,” said Raphael Guillien, Chief Operations Officer for FCC Hotels Indochina, the parent group of The FCC Cambodia. “So organisers will also give a prize to the player who lands closest to the pin.”

Anyone who makes a successful ace will receive an all-expenses-paid six-day vacation to Angkor Wat and Luang Prabang in Laos.

“We’ve got a lot more sponsors this time, so we’re going to give out a lot more prizes,” said Guillien, who plans to reward the lowest round score, among other humorous prizes.

The biennial FCC Nations Cup is based loosely on the Ryder Cup format. “It’s a bit [of] the same concept, [but] the point calculation is different,” added Guillien.

Under FCC Nations Cup rules, players are grouped into four-man teams, with each side representing a country. Teams representing Australian, Cambodia, Canada, France, Korea, Malaysia and the United States are already confirmed, along with reigning champions New Zealand.

Players are given handicaps, and only the best three scores from each team are tallied at the end of day.

“The team from Canada could not make it last time,” said Ben Janclose, general manager of The FCC Angkor. “But they are back this year. So we are expecting a real tug-of-war with them and New Zealand, who won the last Cup in May.”

Janclose also expects a spirited run from “a strong Cambodian team”, which includes Monument Books owner Meng Hieng, who plays off 14, and Seng Chhay Our, who has a 12 handicap.

“There’s a big chance of Cambodia taking [home] the FCC Nations Cup,” Janclose said. “I would love to see the Cambodian team take it.”

Tournament organisers say they are expecting about 50 players this time, a 20 percent increase over the previous event held May 8-9, also at the Angkor Golf Resort.

Participants will have the added thrill of rubbing shoulders with course designer Sir Nick Faldo. The English golfing legend is making a brief visit to the Kingdom this weekend to check on the maintenance of the course, which has now endured three monsoon seasons, as well as attending talks on a new course proposed for Phnom Penh.

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