Caption: Former world number one Vijay Singh. File Photo.
By OLIVIA McMILLAN
Bula Vinaka! The PGA Tour of Australasia has arrived in Fiji for the inaugural hosting of the Fiji International.
Following a welcoming ceremony from the local landowners that the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course is built on the Fiji International is now officially underway.
Brian Thorburn, CEO of the PGA of Australia was thrilled with the reception the tournament received from the local landowners.
“We are proud to be bring golf to Fiji and showcasing this great country to the world,” said Thorburn.
“This is a very special event and the warm welcome we received from the local village today sets the tone for what will be an exciting inaugural Fiji International.”
In another significant moment for the tournament the Fiji International trophy was unveiled by Thorburn and Viliame Naupoto Minster for Youth and Sports.
Featuring a high polished coconut bilo and bronzed war clubs sitting a top vesi hardwood the Fiji International trophy is uniquely designed to reflect Fiji’s culture by locally renowned master engraver Albrecht (Albie) Stuetzle.
“Being a new tournament we had the opportunity to design the Fiji International trophy. We wanted it to represent the beauty of Fiji as well as the unique culture,” added Thorburn.
“It certainly is a beautiful trophy and I look forward to seeing which player will add their name to it.”
120 players from 16 countries will all hope to have their hands on the trophy come Sunday afternoon.
In addition to the trophy the winner receives the lion’s share of the US$1 million prize purse and Official World Golf Ranking points.
However first they must complete four rounds of golf on the challenging and picturesque Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course.
The tournament tees off on Thursday at approximately 6.30am local time.
In its inaugural year the Fiji International has attracted a strong field headlined by Fiji hero Vijay Singh, Major champion Nick Price and India’s number one player Anirban Lahiri.
The Fiji International will be co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia.
Proudly supported by the Fijian Government, the Fiji International is expected to produce a multi-million dollar boost for the local economy, in addition to flow on benefits including the growth of the game in the region.
Designed by Singh, the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course is renowned for its sparkling backdrop of coral reefs and the Pacific Ocean that line 15 out of the 18 championship holes.