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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Big Event This Week Is in... Bangkok?

That sounds funny, doesn't it? But it seems to be true. Here's the deal:

The European Tour event, the Nelson Mandela Championship, doesn't have a "big name" field. Although even casual viewers of the ET will recognize some of the names -- José Manuel Lara, Thomas Aiken, Shiv Kapur, Edoardo Molinari, Jbe Kruger, and Branden Grace, to name a few -- it's not THE big names, if you know what I mean. But at least it's a regular tournament and by the time most of you read this, it will already have started (at 7:30am ET this morning). They moved it up a day so it wouldn't interfere with the Mandela State Funeral on Sunday.

The Franklin Templeton Shootout (aka the Shark Shootout) is a regular event at this time of year. The 12 two-man teams play 3 rounds -- modified alternate shot, better ball (that's fourballs), and scramble. You can find out how each format is played at this link. Sean O'Hair and Kenny Perry are the defending champions, and players like Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Jason Dufner, Dustin Johnson, and Steve Stricker are playing. BUT this isn't a "real" tournament -- after all, it's only 12 two-man teams playing 3 rounds. It's fun, but hardly the big tournament this week. It starts at 1pm ET on Friday.

Just for the record, I'm picking the team of Matt Kuchar and Harris English to win.

Ironically, the big event this week is the Asian Tour's Thailand Golf Championship.  In the photo below (from the Thailand event's website) you can see Henrik Stenson reminding Rickie Fowler who's the boss while Kiradech Aphibarnrat mugs for the camera:

Stenson

In addition to these three, let's name just a few of the players playing in Bangkok:
  • Hunter Mahan
  • Brooks Koepka
  • John Daly
  • Liang Wen Chong
  • Bubba Watson
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Thongchai Jaidee
  • Ryo Ishikawa
  • Charl Schwartzel
  • Justin Rose
And this is a regular 72-hole tournament, to be broadcast LIVE on Golf Channel at 11:30pm ET tonight and re-aired at 10:30am ET Thursday morning. (You'll recall that GC just signed a 10-year deal with the Asian Tour.) And GC is advertising 4 hours of coverage for the first round.

Clearly the Thailand event is the main event on this week's schedule. Just in case you're interested.

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