South Africa’s Ernie Els, a four-time Major champion and former world number one, is looking forward to memorable debut while taking the opportunity to access the potential of the international field at the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways which gets underway on Thursday.
The Asian Tour honorary member will also have the company of his wife and his daughter at the picturesque Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course as he attempts to live up to his billing as one of the headline acts this week.
“I got my wife and my daughter here and my caddie Casey from the U.S and we got here early yesterday morning. I’ve never been to Fiji and I wanted to have a little bit of holiday if it's possible around the golf tournament, so it's great to be here.
“I haven't been the headline act for a while so it's kind of a bit different for me than the last couple years. But my great friend Vijay (Singh) is here and hopefully we can play together at some point this week,” said Els.
Known for his smooth golf swing, ‘The Big Easy’ will also cast his eye on the performances of potential international team members, having been named as Captain of the International Team for next year’s Presidents Cup.
“I'm fortunate that I'm an honorary member of the Asian Tour and I play some events on the Asian Tour so I can keep my eye on some of the youngsters coming through.
“There’s a lot of young, young blood coming through from Asia and Australia and I've got to keep my eye on them, and playing in events like this allows me to see how their games are progressing,” said Els.
Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura, who emerged as the highest placed Asian Tour member at the recently concluded Open Championship in tied-39th place, will be among those looking to impress Els as he also makes his debut at the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways, which being tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour European Tour and ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia again.
"My performance at The Open Championship has given me a lot of confidence and I hope to do well again especially in my first visit to Fiji," said the Japanese.
Malaysia’s Gavin Green, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, along with India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, who finished tied-second at the Fiji International last year are also expected to spearhead the Asian Tour challenge in Fiji, which has now establish itself as a globally-recognised golfing destination.
"There's obviously a lot of good players this week but I am looking forward to it. This is my first Asian Tour event since I last played in Malaysia in February and it's good to catch up with old friends and play well again," said Green.