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Fiji Time: 6:44 PM on Wednesday 23 April

/ Front page / Sport

Singh comes home to play

Arin Kumar
Friday, February 28, 2014

FORMER world number one Vijay Singh has confirmed his participation in the inaugural Fiji International golf tournament that would be played in August.

The tournament is jointly-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and OneAsia, would be played at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course from August 14 to 17.

Singh, who is one of the designers of the course, said in a statement that he wanted to contribute towards the success of the tournament.

"The Fiji International is a big opportunity for Fiji and I want to be a part of it," said Singh.

"It's been a little while since I've been back but this is a great opportunity and I hope that I can contribute to its success and give a little back to Fiji.

"Since it was launched I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.

"There are plenty of kids in Fiji who have never seen a golf club, never hit a golf ball. I know the PGA has plans for growing the game in Fiji and I want to play my part."

Fiji's Attorney-General and Minister for Tourism, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said it was a matter of great national pride to have a Fijian of Singh's calibre competing in the tournament.

"We look forward to hosting some of the world's top golfers in Fiji, but of course it will be particularly special to welcome Vijay home," he said.

PGA of Australia chief executive officer Brian Thorburn said Singh's participation was important to the tournament's success.

"Vijay is synonymous with the game in Fiji but his success and adoration transcends golf," he said.

"Since we first conceptualised the Fiji International, Vijay has been an important part of our strategy and we're delighted he has chosen to support his country in this way."

Also known as the Big Fijian, Singh, in his career span of more than 30 years, has won 58 international titles since turning professional in 1982, including three Major titles.

His first Major win came at the 1998 US PGA Championship which he also won in 2004.

Singh also won the 2000 US Masters at Augusta National and was officially inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006.

He was world number one on the Official World Golf Ranking for 32 weeks throughout 2004 and 2005.

The 51-year-old was born in Lautoka, Fiji and grew up in Nadi.

Meanwhile, the Fiji International is expected to produce a multi-million dollar boost for the national economy, in addition to flow-on benefits including the growth of the game in the region.