Editor's note: Ernie Els has been writing a weekly blog for PGATOUR.COM in 2013 and this is his latest installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com.
As predicted, it was a pleasure to be a part of last week’s CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur. Sadly my golf was nothing to get excited about – rounds of 76, 71, 69 and 74 to finish tied for 47th – but the hospitality from the fans and the sponsors was something that I think all of us players really appreciated.
As you probably know, this was the middle tournament of a three-week stretch for me in Asia and my time here has given me the opportunity to carry out a couple of site visits with the Ernie Els Design team at some exciting new projects that we have on the go in this part of the world.
Last week we were at The Els Club, Teluk Datai. We thought long and hard about the location of our first Els Club in Asia and this site will certainly do it justice. It’s just incredible, nestled within a centuries-old rainforest and with some holes playing alongside the beautiful Andaman Sea. The end product is going to be breathtaking and I can’t wait to come and play the course when it’s officially opened in early 2014.
After leaving Kuala Lumpur we then had time before heading over to Shanghai for the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions to drop-in at another project, this one on the Desaru Coast, a 27-hole layout that will form one of the main attractions at this new beachfront destination on the west coast of Johor. We’re not quite so far along here as we are at Teluk Datai, but we’re right on track. Everything is looking good and we anticipate that the course will be open for play in the latter half of 2015.
Okay, so moving on to this week’s HSBC Champions tournament, which for the first time is part of the FedExCup schedule with money earned counting as official money on the PGA TOUR. This tournament has become Asia’s major and the term ‘star-studded field’ is definitely no exaggeration. Teeing it up this week are 25 winners from this year’s European Tour, 22 from the PGA TOUR and a total of 40 of the world’s top-50 players.
It’s fair to say that this tournament, perhaps more than any other, represents a decent yardstick for the way golf in Asia has grown this past decade or so. I’ve been coming here for 20 years and it’s been wonderful to see the development of the game in this region and also to be able to now represent the Asian Tour as a global ambassador and honorary member. My golf’s not quite where I’d want it to be at the moment, which is frustrating, but you never know in this game. Obviously I want to try to play my best and that means giving it 100 percent effort and commitment from the get-go, as I always do. We’ll see how it goes.
Just one other thing before signing off, I’d like to send my congratulations to Divan Gerber, the winner of this year’s Big Easy Tour Championship and Order of Merit. This Tour was launched in 2011 to give a wider cross section of young professionals the opportunity to play more competitive golf and help our nation’s young talent mature, develop their playing skills and take the next big step towards full Tour status. We’re pleased with how it’s progressed, with the help of my good friends at Stonehage who are the presenting sponsor, and I’m sure it will continue to go from strength to strength in the years to come.
That’s it for now. Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter @thebig_easy