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Champ back

Zanzeer Singh
Saturday, May 03, 2014

FORMER champion Marika Batibasaga will spice up the 44th Fiji Open which will be played at the Fiji Golf Club from May 29 to June 1.

Batibasaga won the event back to back in 2005 and 2006 as an amateur.

Known as Rika in the golfing circles, the 26-year-old will be one of the frontrunners in the professional category.

National Golf Association of Fiji secretary Amitesh Chandra said Batibasaga would draw a lot of support from the fans.

Chandra said the professionals would be battling for the $35,000 prize purse.

"Marika is a great player and he has also won the tournament twice," he said.

"His presence will surely add flavour to the event and he will definitely be backed by home crowd."

The Fiji Open will be played over four days with 18 holes on each day making it an international event.

"The history of this event however is different," Chandra said.

"The inaugural Air New Zealand Fiji Open was staged at the Vatuwaqa course on November 14-15 in 1970.

"It was a 54 holes stroke play subsequently made in the following years to a 72 holes tournament to comply with the international standards. Prizemoney back then was $2000.

"The dates were subsequently changed to the bank holiday long weekend in August."

Ryan Fox of New Zealand will defend the professional title.

His win last year earned him a ticket to the Asia Panasonic Open Champion in Japan.

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