Bandar Seri Begawan, July 16: Local hope Wira Salleh is determined to put in a good showing at the Brunei Open later this month to inspire more Bruneians to take up the game of golf.
Wira, 24, is the third professional golfer to emerge from the sultanate and will form part of the local challenge spearheaded by Pengiran Hassanal Alhaj and Faiz Damit at the Empire Hotel and Country Club from July 29 to August 1.
Wira will make his third appearance, his first as a professional, in the US$300,000 Asian Tour tournament and has set himself a lofty target of making the cut and securing a top-10 finish.
“It will be difficult but not impossible to achieve. I’m lacking in distance. After playing in the past two editions, I came to realise that you need distance like some of the Asian Tour stars. I have been going to the gym lately and I feel that my game is getting there,” said Wira, who joined the play-for-pay ranks in March.
Wira was introduced to the game at the age of 14 where he started hitting golf balls in his back yard. It wasn’t long before he was hooked to the sport and represented Brunei in the Sukan Malaysia (SUKMA) in 2004 and 2006.
He is relishing the opportunity of taking his game to the next level via the Asian Tour.
“There are a lot of opportunities for me to enhance my game on the Asian Tour. There’s a lot more competition as a professional and it drives you to excel. My goal now is to focus on improving my game and earning my Asian Tour card,” he said.
He revealed that the Brunei Open has been a huge influence in the development of golf in the country. “I felt proud when the Brunei Open was launched because it gave me hope that one day I could earn a chance to play with the big players. The Brunei Open has helped open the eyes of many people and it is slowly shaping the sport in our country,” said Wira.
Pengiran Hasssanal, who is the first professional golfer from Brunei, lauded the sentiments of his countryman.
“It has benefited Brunei by opening the mindset of the youth as they know that by playing golf, they have an opportunity to join the professional ranks and make it as their career,” said Pengiran Hassanal.
After playing in his national Open for the past three years, Pengiran believes he is better prepared to challenge for honours. “It has been quite a routine task preparing for the Brunei Open. It is just a matter of how friendly the week will be for me to score well and achieve my goal.
“Pressure is not an issue as this is my third year playing as a professional. The pressure is more on familiarizing myself with the course condition and green speed as they differ during the tournament week,” he added.
Darren Beck of Australia will be defending his title at the Brunei Open, which will celebrate its sixth edition this year.
About the 2010 Brunei Open
The Brunei Open is celebrating its sixth edition this year following its historic launch in 2005. The Championship is organized by Brunei Tourism under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and will once again be staged at the award-winning The Empire Hotel and Country Club, Asia’s Ultimate Golf, Spa & Family Beach Resort which is a Jack Nicklaus signature course.
The Brunei Open 2010 sponsors are Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd (Title Sponsor), The Empire Hotel and Country Club (Host Venue and Official Hotel) and is also sponsored by Srixon (Official Ball), Fenix (Official Apparel), CityNeon (Official Contractor), Canon (Official Photography Equipment), DST Group Sdn Bhd (Official Telecommunications Provider), Inetol Headwears (Official Headwear) and 100 Plus (Official Sports Drink).
The Brunei Open is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, which is the governing body for professional tournament golf in Asia.