The worldwide appeal of the Faldo Series is gathering strength so fast that the largest field ever for the Asia Grand Final will tee off at the Mission Hills Golf Club in the southern Chinese city of Shenzen on Wednesday.
A total of 84 golfers from 17 countries will compete over three rounds for the 2013 title. But Cambodian golf has been dealt a blow of sorts by the non-participation of Seng Vanseiha, who had been given a special invitation at the end of the Faldo Series event in Siem Reap during September last year, despite being among the also-rans.
Efforts by the Post to seek an explanation from the golf authorities in Phnom Penh or from Seng Vanseiha himself as to why he missed the Mission Hills bus proved fruitless.
However, when contacted, Faldo Series chief executive Tom Phillips informed the Post in an email that Seng Vanseiha “was invited but unfortunately he was not able to attend”.
Six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo said in a statement made available to the Post: “We have an exciting week planned as we aim to give opportunity to golfers both on and off the course. My team and I look forward to spending time with competitors, sponsors and younger children from the local community as we celebrate another season of growth for the Faldo Series in Asia and across the globe.”
Tenniel Chu, vice-chairman of Mission Hills, said they had been proud to become a founding partner of the Faldo Series Asia in 2006. “It is encouraging to see a record number of finalists benefiting from the unique Grand Final experience for the seventh consecutive year,” he added.
Reigning Faldo Series Europe champion, Jack Singh-Brar, will be hoping to become only the second person to win both titles since Masamichi Ito of Japan in 2010. Ito won his third Faldo Series crown at Mission Hills last year but has since turned professional.
A 16-year-old Englishman, Singh-Brar is one of five qualifiers from the 2012 Europe Grand Final.
The World Amateur Golf Ranking event will see golfers aged 12 to 22 compete on the Faldo-designed course in Shenzhen. Off the course, they will spend time with the British golfing legend, his personal coach Keith Wood and experts from Edel Golf and TrackMan.
With the field at Mission Hills divided into five age-categories, three boys and two girls will each receive a trophy and an exemption into the 17th Europe Grand Final later this year.
The leading boy and girl will also be invited to play in a professional Tour event and the title of Faldo Series Asia Champion will go to the player with the lowest gross score, regardless of age or gender.
Established in 1996, 40 Faldo Series tournaments now take place in 30 countries worldwide with more than 7,000 golfers participating each year. The 2012-2013 Faldo Series Asia schedule featured a record 18 tournaments in 15 countries, including four in mainland China and others in The Philippines, Chinese Taipei, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Malaysia, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia and Thailand.
The second Faldo Series event in Cambodia is scheduled for June this year at the Faldo-designed Angkor Golf Resort in Siem Reap.