There’s plenty to love about spreading the gospel of golf internationally. That is, unless you’re a professional golfer traveling this week to Kuala Lumpur, Turkey or China.
In a nutshell: PGA Tour golfers going to Malaysia have been warned to not drink the water and or breathe too deep. European Tour players in the Turkish Airlines Open are in the same country raising the ire of a U.S-led coalition battling radicals in Syria, adding more tension to what was already the nerve center of world strife. And for good measure, the LPGA’s finest may have it best in China, where the Communist Party banned golf memberships last week and pretty much implies it’s a crime to play.
But hey, FedEx Cup, Race To Dubai and CME Globe points are on the line, so what’s a little risk?
The PGA Tour issued a warning to its players heading to the co-sanctioned CIMB Classic, advising those with pulmonary or cardiac issues and an aversion to typhoid that it may be a long week at the 78-player event. Only bottled or boiled water and while you’re at it, just cooked food.
The health concerns are not stopping Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott from headlining a field also featuring a resurgent Patrick Reed and Kevin Na, runner-up the last two weeks on tour. The event is played on Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club’s West Course, which dates to 1991 but was “completely redesigned by renowned international golf course architects E&G Parslow" in 2008.
Your Golf Channel times:
CIMB Classic TV Times (ET) - Weds.-Thurs., 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., Fri., 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., Sat., 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. live
Turkish Airlines Open
The Race to Dubai begins with…two European Tour legends choosing to breathe bad air and risk eating disease-infused food instead of heading to the marquee Turkey stop. You can probably guess why Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson passed (appearance fees) on the Turkish Airlines Open and its $7 million purse. Or maybe they just wanted to send a statement to Turkey over airstrikes against Syrian Kurds who the U.S.-led coalition views as an ally.
According to the New York Times, last weekend’s airstrikes by Turkey have upped tensions between the country and the coalition, yet are consistent with Turkey’s views on the Kurdish group known as the Democratic Union Party. Maybe Rory McIlroy, the headliner, can share his views on the topic and just make the entire Race To Dubai an international incident?
Actually, McIlroy had best lay low given that his eligibility in the Race to Dubai came only after European Tour’s new head, Keith Pelley, looked at MRIs of Rory’s ankle and decided the European Tour’s biggest star was above the qualification rules for eligibility into the Race, where a $5 million bonus pool awaits.
A more intriguing name to follow: Danny Willett. This emerging star finished fourth in Turkey last year, is currently ranked 26th in the world and sits second to McIlroy in the Race to Dubai. The two play together in the opening rounds over The Montgomery Maxx Royal Course in Antalya. As for the host venue known for its posh service and food, here’s a particular odd pairing of music and imagery set to “Keep On Rising,” Ian Carey’s remix with Michelle Shellers.
Golf Channel is carrying the first three rounds starting Thursday from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET, with expanded coverage Sunday from 3:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
China Looks So Quaint By Comparison
The LPGA Tour’s Blue Bay tournament turns up on beautiful Hainan Island for a $2 million event with serious star power. Of course there is that lingering cloud from the Communist Party’s war on golf. The party not only has long banned construction of new courses like the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course, where the event is played, but now is banning membership into such clubs. Maybe it’s symbolic, but the anti-golf push certainly creates an odd juxtaposition.
South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace defends her title while Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Shanshan Feng, Suzann Pettersen, Jessica Korda and Yani Tseng headline. So far, the ladies have been having a blast dressing up.
Golf Channel has coverage from 2:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Thursday and Friday. Saturday and Sunday’s coverage is delayed until 8 pm ET.
The Champions Tour resumes the spellbinding Schwab Cup points race at a player favorite: the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach Country Club in California. The week is a favorite of the 50-and-older-set, and not just because they are playing somewhere other than Kuala Lumpur, Turkey or China.
This penultimate event on the Champions calendar airs live Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 4 to 7 p.m. ET.
In Case You Missed It Last Week…
Tin Cup is airing not once, but twice Tuesday night starting at 8 p.m. ET. That means two more royalty checks for Gary McCord!
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