Legend, idol, hero – Woods aura still strong in Asia


KUALA LUMPUR: Top Asian golfers are hoping to seize their chance to upstage Tiger Woods in Malaysia this week — but first they’ll have to overcome their awe of the American great.

Ahead of the US$6.1 million event here, India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar admitted he found it a little unsettling when the 14-time Major champion suddenly appeared during a practice round.

“He was standing right behind the tee box waiting for me to clear it,” said Bhullar yesterday.

“I don’t know if I should say yes or no, but I think a bit,” added Bhullar, when asked if he was intimidated by Woods.

“Suddenly you see Tiger Woods standing right behind your tee box, obviously, it’s kind of intimidating. But everybody’s at the same level, and at this tournament, everybody wants to win this tournament.

“Tiger Woods is a legend, and a living legend. What he has done, no one else has done in this generation. I think all of Asia is getting excited to see him this week.”

Korean-American David Lipsky, who has won the Cambodian Classic in his rookie year on the Asian Tour, said playing alongside Woods realised a dream he’d had for many years.

“Oh, yeah, he’s an idol of mine growing up. I’m from Southern California as well as Tiger, so growing up, watching golf, he’s been a hero of mine,” he said. “It’s crazy. It’s a dream come true to be playing in the same event as him.”

However both players said the Asian contingent, led by in-form Thai Thaworn Wiratchant, were capable of taking the honours in the American-dominated, 48-man tournament at the Mines Resort and Golf Club.

The event is yet to see an Asian champion with Ben Crane and Bo Van Pelt winning the first two editions.

“Golf is no longer only the PGA Tour. If you look at the Ryder Cup or a few of the big tours, players are coming off from all over the world,” said Bhullar, 24.

“I played with K.J. Choi a few weeks ago in Korea, and he was telling me golf is a global game now. Anybody from any country can come and win a big tournament.” — AFP