KUALA LUMPUR: The 26th edition of the World Amateur Golfers Championship world finals ended on a high note during the prize-giving dinner on Friday night with participants dancing and cheering joyfully, underlining the fact that they had indeed a really wonderful time in Kuala Lumpur.
If not for golf, Malaysia would be hard-pressed to have sports teams – let alone tourists — visiting from countries such as Slovenia, Slovakia, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Suriname, Moldova, Hungary and Romania. The World Amateur Golfers Championship proved once again that golf is a fantastic platform to reach out and promote tourism.
Other countries that participated in the world finals were Austria, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, China, Pakistan, France, the United States, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, South Africa, Ukraine and Portugal.
Over 400 golfers from these countries qualified or signed up for the WAGC world finals as well as the World Amateur Golfers Invitational which was organized concurrently. They all competed at Kelab Rahman Putra, Glenmarie GCC, Kota Permai GCC and Kuala Lumpur GCC.
Johan Tumba, the son of WAGC founder the late Sven Tumba, said on Friday night that he was very happy to see how well this tournament had evolved. The Swedish professional remarked that the organization was spot on and that the comments from the participants he had met, was nothing but positives.
“The logistics should be anybody’s nightmare, but the Malaysian organizers pulled it off smartly,” said Sven. “Throughout the four days of competition, the golf bags were sent from one club to another by the organizers. Which meant the participants didn’t have to worry about lugging their bags from the hotel into the coaches, to the golf clubs and back to their hotel.
“This is the sort of treatment you would expect from a prestigious event such as the World Amateur Golfers Championship and I congratulate its president Isac Saminathan for pulling it off. An incredible job.”
There was plenty of drama during the prize-giving dinner when winners were being announced. Malaysia took the main honours, winning the 2022 Challenge Trophy. But the biggest drama of the evening caught everyone off-guard in the massive ballroom.
Jim Smith of the US requested to make a speech. He duly thanked the organizers and then proceeded to single out one of his team-mates, Susan Sheehan and promptly invited her to join him on stage. Then he described how long he’d known her and that they enjoyed a very good relationship. The next moment, he took out an engagement ring and, with one knee on the floor, proposed to Susan much to the delight of the cheering crowd.
For Jim to choose this occasion, in front of hundreds of witnesses from all over the world, is the stuff of dreams. It just went to show how much his proposal meant to Susan. You couldn’t write this into the script.
The two hole-in-ones by Slovenians Tomas Kavnik and Ales Fevzer at Glenmarie added to the excitement. They were presented with Iroas limited edition watches sponsored by ATG Watch.
Isac understandably felt very satisfied and happy, knowing that the world finals had been organized successfully. “There were minor hiccups, such as slow play by some participants initially but otherwise, the tournament went smoothly,” he said.
“Everyone I spoke to had only good things to say about the event, the food, the evening functions, hotel accommodation … everything,” said Isac. “I must thank the four golf clubs once again for their impressive course conditions and their immense support. The golfers were really impressed.”
Moving forward, Isac said they were about to conclude an agreement with the Tourist Authority of Thailand whereby next year’s world finals would likely take place in the holiday island of Phuket.