For the first time on the Toyota Tour, all eyes will be focused on the course that Jack Nicklaus designed rather than the field, when the 8th leg tees off at the magnificent Forest City Golf Resort here tomorrow.
Some of the big names on the Tour, like Danny Chia, Shahriffuddin Ariffin, Galven Green, Ervin Chang, Paul San, Amir Nazrin, Ben Leong and Nicklaus Fung are playing elsewhere while recent Corolla Cross Cup winner Gavin Green will be competing at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews, Scotland.
This means a great opportunity for the rest of the professionals including veterans R Nachimuthu, Khor Kheng Hwai, Sukree Othman, Airil Rizman, S. Sivachandran, Kemarol Baharin and Shaifubari Muda.
A handful of the 90 professionals teeing it up on the 7,386 yards layout, got their first feel of the course at yesterday’s pro-am and today’s official practice round. Rookie Ryan Fernandez, who helped his team win the pro-am, said he loved the course. “It’s long but the fairways are wide. It entices you to hit all your big drives. I hit a 3-wood on one of the par threes,” he smiled.
Zia Izzuddeen, winner of the Toyota Tour Qualifying School at Palm Resort three weeks ago, was excited at being able to play on this highly rated course. “There are waste areas on either side of the fairways, giving it that desert feel like the courses in Scottsdale, Arizona and in Dubai,” he said. Zia also played the pro-am and collected five birdies but gave back four bogeys.
The course was designed by Nicklaus and his son Jack Nicklaus II. The layout meanders through mangrove swamps bordering the Pulai River. All 74 hectares are on reclaimed land. The teeboxes, fairways and greens are turfed with Paspalum Platinum which has a higher tolerance to the salt content in the soil.
There are no short par 3s on this course, the longest being the 247-yard 8th hole. The shortest is the 188-yard 15th while the 5th is 195 yards long and the 13th, at 215 yards is the second longest of these four holes.
The ladies’ championship has attracted 13 professionals and amateurs, led by Aretha Pan followed by a host of talented players like Geraldine Wong, Michelle Koh, Dianne Luke, Jocelyn Chee and Ainil Abu Bakar.
The Camry Cup is organised by the Professional Golf Malaysia and delivered by MST Golf Group. The 54-hole competition ends on Thursday afternoon. Forest City Golf Resort is part of the massive Forest City development undertaken by Country Garden, a property giant in China.