Golfing future bright in Asia
Ernie Els and Retief Goosen are big believers in Asian golf.
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2007 10:05 GMT

South African Retief Goosen meets some locals in Thailand [GALLO/GETTY]

Retief Goosen and Ernie Els belief the future is bright for golf in Asia and a champion is waiting in the wings.

The two players are in Phuket for the Johnnie Walker Classic this week and Goosen said many golfers now preferred coming to Asia than going to the United States.
"I feel that the way the economy is going over here (Asia), and especially in China and those places, I think we're going to see more and more events pop up in this part of the world," the South African world number six said.

"I like playing over here. I enjoy the people, I enjoy the golf  courses, so it's always an area that I enjoy coming to, and I feel  that it won't be long before we're going to play quite a few more  events in this part of the world.
"Obviously we can't play in Europe this time of year but a lot of the players sort of enjoy coming and playing out here more now than maybe playing in the States."
With the Asian Tour getting bigger as it co-sanctions more events with the European Tour, the huge prize money is also a big draw card to the top professionals.
"You know, the events over here, it's getting stronger and stronger fields. So world-ranking wise, it definitely appeals to a lot more of the top players to come and play and there's a lot of prize money," Goosen continued.
"You see how big the prize money they have in China (is), there's big prize money.
"So I feel that the guys will definitely come and play more over here now.  The weather is good, the courses are good."
A tournament in Shanghai in November offers $5 million in prize money while the Singapore Open this year is offering $4 million.
World number five Els also cited the improving standards of local players and tipped an Asian champion to emerge in the not too distant future.
"Well, I think what the European Tour has done has really helped  the Asian Tour, to co-sanction events, to have the Asian players  play against stronger fields, and I think the Asian players have  really caught up really well," he said.

"It's just a matter of time before they have a real champion."
Goosen won the Johnnie Walker Classic in 2002 and Els won in 1997 and 2003.

The winner takes home more than $400,000.

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