Six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo today praised the “vision” behind the AAC and predicted widespread Asian success on the global golfing stage in the coming decade.
The three-time Masters and Open Champion, who is in Singapore as a guest of the tournament and will speak at a private dinner for players and officials tomorrow evening, also offered some advice to this week’s winner on how to make the most of the experience.
Sir Nick, who took up the game after watching the Masters on television as an impressionable 14-year-old, said: “The Masters was my inspiration into the game so I think I can tell a genuine story of how the Masters led me to start playing golf and I can at least show, or prove, to the competitors what can happen with an opportunity like this – which I think is fabulous.
“The vision to create this event, to give this opportunity, to so many people it is a dream just to go to the Masters from outside the ropes let alone inside the ropes. This week, somebody will win, will go to the Masters and will compete – I think that is a fabulous idea.”
Sir Nick, who now divides much of his time between television work and golf course design, described the amount of change he has seen since he was a dominant figure in professional golf through the 1980s and 90s and is sure that Asia will play a crucial role in golf’s future.
When asked if Asia would produce more Major winners in the coming years, he told journalists at The Singapore Island Country Club (SICC): “When I used to travel 30 years ago there was a Western golf swing and an Asian golf swing but now it has all completely changed.
“Golf in Asia is going to expand. The modern era of golf is from Arnold Palmer on, that’s 50 years ago and I think the Asian modern era is only five or 10 years old by now.
“So give Asia another five or 10 years. You’ve already seen the rise that they’ve had. YE Yang winning [the 2009 PGA Championship], Yani Tseng and what she is doing, what Ishikawa is doing. So give them another five or 10 years and we shall see – guaranteed it has got to be more than it is now.”
As a winner of the Masters Tournament in 1989, ’90 and ’96, as well as the Open Championship in 1987, ’90, ’92, the 2008 Ryder Cup Captain is perfectly placed to offer advice to this week’s winner on how to make the most of their Augusta experience.
“Go a few days early to Augusta National, just to get over the acclimatisation because it is such an awe inspiring golf course and event,” he explained.
“Go there the week before and get over that scare factor for a few days, find out where the practice facilities are, move around on the golf course and get to experience the greens. I think that would be the best advice I could give to the champion.”