Fiji International to feature more Fijian golfers

More Fijians are guaranteed to be playing the country?s premier golf tournament the Fiji International.

Four Fijians competed in the inaugural Fiji International, held in August 2014, but that number is set to rise in 2015 with more places in the tournament provided to local talent.

The Fiji Open champion will earn a start, as will the top finishing Fijian player and in an exciting new development a qualifying series will be staged around the country with three places in the Fiji International up for grabs.

The increased number of playing opportunities for Fijians at the Fiji International is one part of the PGA Tour of Australasia?s plan to grow the game of golf in the country.

?In 2014 we had four Fijian golfers teeing it up in the inaugural Fiji International, this year we aim to see this number increase,? said Simon Butterly, General Manager – Tournament Division for the PGA Tour of Australasia.

?Through the Fiji International a number of young Fijian?s are exposed to golf, we want to provide them with role models to look up to and aspire to be like.?

?Vijay Singh continues to inspire a number of people to take up the game, but we want to find that next Fijian star to encourage future golfers.?

Golfers aiming to compete in the Fiji International will have their first opportunity to qualify via the Fiji Open which is to be played at the Fiji Golf Club in Suva from 4-7 June.

?We are very grateful to see an increased number of opportunities provided for Fijians to compete in the prestigious Fiji International,? said Ofakilomaloma Tabunakawai, President of the National Golf Association of Fiji.

?This allows for our local talent to earn the exclusive experience of playing against some of the world?s best golfers at the Fiji International.?

Fijian PGA Professionals and elite amateurs with a handicap of five or less who are also Fijian citizens or residents will be able to compete in the Fiji International qualifying series.

Played over three days, players will compete on three of Fiji?s best 18 holes courses with the leading scorers across the 54 holes earning one of the three coveted positions into the world-class tournament.

?It is great to provide our local golf professionals a chance to qualify for the Fiji International and prove themselves at an international level,? said Graeme Bell, President of the Fiji PGA.

?To compete against some of the world?s best golfers is an opportunity that needs to be earned and we believe the qualifying series will achieve this goal.?

The 2015 Fiji International will be held from 15th ? 18th October at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course.

The inaugural Fiji International, boasting a million dollar prize purse, signalled Fiji?s official arrival onto the golfing world stage with the Fijian Government, Fiji Tourism and Fiji?s number one golf ambassador, Vijay Singh, all making a push to put their country on the lucrative world golfing map.

As the newest tournament on the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia tours, the inaugural Fiji International was a resounding success.

It was not only a great golf event, but also an opportunity to showcase Fiji as a premier cultural, leisure and sporting destination with a diverse range of activities and attractions.

120 players from 16 different countries came together at the spectacular Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course to take on the challenging layout, designed by local hero Vijay Singh, to compete in the regions first ever internationally broadcast tournament.

Other players in the field included three time Major Champion Nick Price, Fiji?s Dinesh Chand, India?s highest ranked and world top-100 player Anirban Lahiri, China?s top ranked players Liang Wenchong and Wu Ashun, and two of Australia?s most successful and respected golfers Craig Parry and Peter O?Malley.

Hitting the very first tee shot of the Fiji International, Steven Jeffress went on to make history by sinking the last putt of the tournament as he birdied the 18th hole to claim the title by four shots from fellow Australian Jake Higginbottom.

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