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Driving the game's global growth

By Chuah Choo Chiang | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-23 07:07

PGA Tour's Asian swing shows that golf's Far East fortunes faring well

Xander Schauffale probably epitomizes best what the PGA Tour is all about these days.

Born in La Jolla, California, the 24-year-old has a name which is not typically American, holds a United States passport and has a father who is half French, half German and a mother who is half Chinese.

"I have a very international background but I haven't had the opportunity to travel a whole lot," said Schauffele, who rose to fame by winning the season-ending Tour Championship in September, which helped him finish third in the FedExCup standings.

"My dad's half French, half German. My mom was born in Taiwan but grew up in Japan. It's cool that golf has kind of allowed me to start here in Malaysia, then Korea, then China.

"Growing up, it was always a dream of mine to play on the PGA Tour and to kind of use golf as a tool to travel."

Schauffale and the merry band from the PGA Tour should buckle up and prepare for a wild ride after spending three weeks competing in prestigious PGA Tour events in Asia recently.

Driving the game's global growth

After a two-week break, the PGA Tour's 2017-18 season started in earnest in early October with the Safeway Open in Napa, California, won by Brendan Steele.

The tour then headed full steam to the Far East for the eighth staging of the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, followed by the inaugural CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in South Korea and World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in China.

The three Asian stops are part of the expansive 49-leg FedExCup schedule that will visit five other countries outside the US.

For a rising star like Shauffale with such a colorful family heritage, the opportunity to expand his horizons is an exhilarating prospect.

"I'm just excited to start the year off kind of on a different foot instead of in the States," said Schauffale.

"If you want to be one of the best players in the world, you have to be a global player. You have to collect fans in different countries and play well in different countries. I'm just really looking forward to the opportunity presented."

Shauffale is among the class of 2011 that includes Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Emiliano Grillo and Daniel Berger - all of whom have burst onto the PGA Tour scene. But the old guard is just as excited with how the game is growing around the world.

Recently inducted World Golf Hall of Fame member, Davis Love III, recalled the old days when he used to fly out to the occasional tournament in Asia.

"In 1985 when I started on the Tour, I never thought I would be playing in Malaysia in between playing at Pebble Beach and then New York, then back to playing in Mississippi. You know, it really is amazing. They just seemed so far away ... and now it's just part of our Tour," said the 53-year-old.

"It really isn't the US Tour. It's the PGA Tour."

A 21-time PGA Tour champion, Love welcomes the global expansion and snapped up the opportunity to compete in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, which was inaugurated in 2010.

"I've watched the Tour grow really around the world. With the Canada Tour, the Latin American Tour, playing two events now in Mexico, three over here (in Asia), it's really growing. It's an international game," he said.

"We have to embrace the fact we're going to play around the world. Our tour is going to be kind of the world tour.

"Guys are coming from all around the world to play our tour as the premier place to play, so we have to come over here. It's a great streak. My goal would be to get in all three of them next year."

England's Justin Rose, who claimed a stunning comeback victory at last month's WGCHSBC Champions - dubbed Asia's major - was delighted he took the commute from his home base in the Bahamas to Shanghai.

"Whenever you beat the top players in the world, that gives a tournament victory so much more meaning. And obviously with a leaderboard like we had with Dustin, Brooks, (Henrik) Stenson, I take a lot of pride in winning this tournament," said the Englishman.

He produced a masterstroke with his final comment at his winner's media conference:

"Winning in China, to travel, to take your game internationally I think is something that's very important to do. Obviously China is a very important golf nation, and a growing golf nation, so it's very important to win in front of these fans."

The writer is senior director of communications for the PGA Tour, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Contact him at chuahcc@pgatourintl.com.my

 Driving the game's global growth

Xander Schauffele of the United States plays a shot during the opening round of the WGC-HSBC Champions at Shanghai's Sheshan International Golf Club on Oct 26.Andrew Redington / Getty Images

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