Asian Tour Celebrates Memorable Season

Asian Tour CEO Cho Minn Thant and Chairman Jimmy Masrin at the Annual Awards. Picture by Thananuwat Srirasant/Asian Tour.

Hua Hin, Thailand: One of the finest years in the history of the Asian Tour was celebrated in fitting style at the circuit’s Annual Awards Night.

Former LPGA Tour player Virada Niraphatpongporn and Dominique Boulet, the Asian Tour’s lead commentator, hosted the glamorous evening at the Hua Hin Marriott Resort & Spa, and conducted entertaining Q&A sessions with players and officials.

Cho Minn Thant, Commissioner and CEO of the Asian Tour, and the Tour’s Chairman Jimmy Masrin both took the stage to talk about the season and their hopes for the future.

Meanwhile, a distinguished list of winners received their awards.

Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Sihwan Kim, although not present due to playing commitments, was rewarded for a phenomenal season by being voted The Players’ Player of the Year by the Tour’s membership, based on a final count from an online poll.

It was the icing on the cake for the American after a career-defining season and saw him join an elite line up of award winners from 2022.

Players voted the PIF Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers as The Tournament of the Year, the International Series Thailand as The International Series Tournament of the Year, and Madinaty Golf Club in Cairo, Egypt, as The Players’ Choice Course of the Year.

The US$5 million Saudi event, played at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club last year near Jeddah, was the opening tournament of the 2022 season and saw the Asian Tour enjoy one of the most memorable weeks in its history at an event that boasted the strongest field it had ever assembled, playing for one of its most lucrative prize funds.

The following month the International Series was launched at the International Series Thailand, played at Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, where victory went to Kim.

Madinaty Golf Club, opened in late 2020 and at the forefront of the Egyptian golf scene, hosted the inaugural International Series Egypt in November – where former amateur star American Andy Ogletree won for the first time as a professional – and its golf course was an instant hit with the players.

“I am sure nobody is surprised that Sihwan Kim has been bestowed with one of the Asian Tour’s most important awards, The Players’ Player of the Year Award,” said Asian Tour CEO Cho.

“This is a mark of true respect as it is voted for by the players, and it is justly served to a player who stayed dedicated and focused, patiently waiting for his time to come.”

Kim completed the finest season of his 11-year professional career at the season-ending Indonesian Masters when he wrapped up the Merit title, appropriately on the day he turned 34.

“At the Saudi International the Asian Tour got off to the best possible start thanks to a world-class field and global television audience. The whole experience set the benchmark for the Tour and was aspirational,” said Cho.

“The International Series Thailand was held soon after and was a resounding success and the ideal way to kick off the International Series, while Madinaty Golf Club proved to be an outstanding venue, something that our members repeatedly said throughout the week. The course lent itself perfectly to a tournament of that scale, which is a testament to the hard work and commitment of everyone at this very special venue.

“The club also went the extra mile by building a driving range for us and put in extra effort to present the golf course in immaculate condition. Several of the players and officials mentioned that the course was the best paspalum course they had ever seen.”

Kim Bi-o had the honour of being named Rookie of the Year. In his first full season on the Tour, the Korean won the GS Caltex Maekyung Open on home soil, and had four other top-five finishes to come close to winning the Merit list.

Fellow Korean Kim Joo-hyung won Best Stroke Average with a score of 68.93, the pre-cursor to a breakthrough season on the PGA Tour where has triumphed twice; Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong topped Total Birdies with 263 birdies; Korean Moon Kyong-joon led Greens in Regulation on 77.41%; Swede Bjorn Hellgren secured the Driving Distance title with an average of 313.62 yards; and Siddikur Rahman’s mastery of the short game was on display once again with the Bangladesh star leading Putts per Round, with a median of 28.25 putts per round.

Brazilian Adilson Da Silva enjoyed the rare distinction of winning two awards: Driving Accuracy on 84.71% and Scrambling with 69.31%.

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