Bangladesh has been hosting Asian Tour events for the last four years. Today as the Kurmitola Golf Club hosts the fifth edition of the Bangladesh Open, this time titled Bangabandhu Cup Golf Open, the question that is frequently being asked is: whether we will finally get an Asian Tour winner on home soil?
There is an unambiguous answer to this question as the locals have mostly failed to meet high expectations placed on them by the game's local governing body and the other stakeholders. Even Bangladesh's best golfer Siddikur Rahman, a two-time Asian Tour winner, has failed to ace the home event in his four tries. The local golfers have voiced their confidence, saying 'if they can play their natural game without taking undue pressure, there shouldn't be a reason not to play well'.
But the reality is far from what they say ahead of each tournament. A new winner has sprung up each time and on most occasions it was the debut for that winner on this golf course.
Siddikur claimed that playing at home has its own pressure, that of expectation, which may bog down the local players who are short of experience at international level.
“There is always a lot of pressure when playing on the home course because there are a lot of expectations. I have expectations as well. There is a little bit of pressure [in that regard],” Siddikur said.
Jamal Hossain Mollah, Bangladesh's second-best golfer on paper, sounded more confident than his more illustrious compatriot. Having won the Bengal Open – a PGTI event – in Kolkata a fortnight ago, Jamal feels he could be one of the top finishers in this event.
“Why top 10? I want to win the title,” Jamal, who finished fourth last year, retorted when asked whether he would be happy with a top-10 finish this year.
But to meet their own lofty expectations, the likes of Siddikur, Jamal will have to play out of their skin because the Asian Tour -- the third most important golf tour in the world – congregates some of the best golfers from the continent and beyond. Even though the Bangabandhu Cup Golf Open ranks among the lowest events on the tour in terms of prize money (350,000 dollars), the field this time is pretty strong.
Defending champion Malcolm Kokocinski of Sweden, 2017 winner Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand, who is currently in second place in the Asian Tour Order of Merit, 2016 winner Thitiphun Chuayprakong of Thailand and Mardan Mamat of Singapore, the winner of the inaugural edition in 2015, will all be there to challenge for the title yet again.
There will also be veterans like Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, Miguel Carballo of Argentina and Jeev Milkha Singh of India among the 150-man field, including 47 golfers from Bangladesh.
One thing that might dampen the spirit of the golfers or leave them a bit hesitant regarding how the course would behave are the thunderstorms that hit Dhaka over the last week and expected to cause more scourge during the event. Jazz, however, felt it might be easier for him to negotiate with fewer trees in the eyeline across the fairway.
“It's good to see how the course has changed. I see a lot of improvements in the golf course this year. It's really unfortunate with the storm that we got earlier this week. I would say it could be easier with lesser trees but it's still playing quite tough,” the second-ranked player in the Asian tour Order of Merit said.