After hosting four consecutive events in the United States, the LIV Golf Invitational Series has packed up shop for a two-week trip abroad.
The upstart circuit led by Greg Norman and backed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is hosting its first of consecutive events in Asia this week at the newly-opened Stonehill golf course in Bangkok, Thailand. Before the series heads home next week to the familiar Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – the host of the PIF Saudi International on the Asian Tour – players made sure to heap praise on this week’s course.
One player compared the new track to one of the most heralded properties in the game.
“I think in terms of the conditions, it’s pristine. It’s literally — it’s holy ground. It’s so pure out there,” said Anirban Lahiri, who is making his third start on the series this week. “I would say this is the closest you’d come to maybe comparing to conditions in Augusta, just in terms of the pure turf conditions. It’s phenomenal.”
“It’s ridiculous how good it is,” he added.
Lahiri has played in the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club twice, finishing T-49 in 2015 and T-42 in 2016.
“But yeah, I think the good thing is everybody is playing it for the first time, so no one has got an advantage,” said Lahiri, the two-time European Tour winner in 2015 and seven-time Asian Tour winner from 2011-2015. “I think obviously it’s wide open, so you’ve got to hit it good off the tee, but it’s a second-shot golf course.”
“I think I need to eat a lot of curry and pad Thai maybe and help my distance, find another 30 yards before I tee off,” said Kevin Na, who noted the wide fairways will be a bomber’s paradise. “It’s a very, very long golf course.”
“The only thing I feel like that can play in my favor,” explained Na, “there’s good undulations on the green. There’s some runoffs. I feel like you have to putt very well out here, and I think that’s one way that I can make up for the driving distance.”
Na thinks this week’s event will be decided based on how LIV sets up the course
“I hope the rules committee set it up sensible because if you play a back tee every hole and tuck every pin, I just don’t think that’ll be exciting. It won’t be exciting,” said Na, who spoke with rules officials about drivable par-4s and reachable par-5s. “The fans are out here to see birdies and eagles. I’m not saying set it up easy, but I’m saying you have to have a good mixture, and especially with a golf course that nobody has ever played and we don’t know what’s capable.
“I think the first day you have to play it on the safe side and see what happens.”