[PHOTO: Asian Tour]
This weekend’s LIV Golf Promotions event is a wonderful opportunity for the next generation of golfers on the Asian Tour to fast-track their careers by winning a spot on the lucrative LIV Golf League next season. However, they will be facing stiff competition from the oldest player in the field at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Veteran Australian golfer Scott Hend is also relishing the prospect of a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity this weekend.
The 10-time winner on the Asian Tour turned pro back in 1997 – long before many of the Asian Tour stars and other players from around the world in the 74-strong field for this weekend’s event were even born.
But the 50-year-old believes age is no issue in an innovative format that will see a cut in both round one and two, leaving a top 20 to battle it out over 36 holes on the final day for the three top spots and golden tickets onto the LIV Golf roster.
“It’s an old cliche, isn’t it? The golf clubs don’t know how old you are,” Hend said. “Anything can happen with 20 guys getting through every day until you get to rounds three and four and the slate being wiped clean every day.
“You’ve got to get yourself to rounds three and four and get a hot putter, and anything can happen. All of a sudden the doors are wide open.
“I feel like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in events that are this format, to try and possibly get a LIV card. It’s a special opportunity for a guy, especially my age, at this point in my career, so I’m looking forward to the week.”
Hend joins a strong cohort of players from the Asian Tour who qualified for the unique promotions event either through the International Series Order of Merit, or as tournament winners on the Asian Tour this season.
The strong turnout – particularly from players from the order of merit – is a clear indicator of the pathway created by the International Series, the set of 10 elevated formed through a groundbreaking partnership between the Asian Tour and LIV Golf to sustain and boost golf in the region.
All will be vying for three lucrative spots onto next season’s roster, joining American sensation Andy Ogletree, the three-time International Series winner who qualified outright as this season’s Order of Merit champion.
“It is life changing and there’s a variety of international players here trying to get on to the tour,” Hend said. “If one of these guys that have qualified through the Asian Tour get through, they get onto LIV.”
Referring to the group of Asian Tour regulars including Sadom Kaewkanjana and Phachara Khongwatmai who experienced LIV Golf in its inaugural season, Hend said, “All the Asian Tour guys that came out and played the first year of LIV, look what it’s done for them – their confidence is amazing.
“For the other golfers, younger guys looking up to them, it seems like they’re all motivated to try to come out and get a spot on this tour. It’s just life-changing.
“It would just be an amazing thing for one of the young guys to get through and get one of the cards. Not that I’m saying I’m pushing for them to get it – I’d rather try and beat them! But if one of them gets it, it would be fantastic for the region.”