Melbourne: South Korea will host golf`s Presidents Cup in 2015, highlighting the sport`s continuing growth and popularity in Asia and marking the event`s first appearance in the region.
U.S. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday at this year`s event, which begins Thursday, that an as-yet undecided Korean club will host the biennial match-play tournament between the United States and an International team of golfers representing non-European countries.
Finchem said the PGA Tour has "a number of options" for a host club but will not announce the specific venue until the first half of next year. Three South Korean players are on this year`s Presidents Cup team at Royal Melbourne: K.J. Choi, K. T. Kim and Y.E. Yang.
"I am very honored, very delighted ... it is a positive step for the development of the game in Korea," Choi said through a translator. "K.T., Y.E and I will try to keep up our `A` game up to 2015."
Yang said he was pleased to see such a "festival of golf" coming to his home country.
"I feel very proud that I picked up golf as a living," he said. "I have no doubt this will improve the golf culture and golf market in Korea."
Under the rotation system, the U.S. will host the 2013 Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.
South Korea becomes only the fourth non-American country to host the Presidents Cup since its inception in 1994. Royal Melbourne was also the venue in 1998, South Africa was host in 2003 and Canada`s Royal Montreal in 2007.
"The growth of the game in Asia is well documented, and the fact that we have three South Korean players on the International Presidents Cup team this year illustrates the strength of golf in that country, which is only going to get stronger in the next four years," Finchem said.
Kim hopes the 2015 decision would boost the sport in South Korea.
"A lot of my peers, a lot of younger generation Korean golfers, are also eyeing to increase their world rankings, get better and hopefully have a few more Koreans on the International team by 2015," Kim said.
Choi, who is 41, was asked if he might be captain of the International team in 2015.
"No, I`m just going to try and condition myself until 2015," Choi said. "I learned a lot from playing with the Aussie players this week, how they take pride in playing in their home country. I would like to feel that, and feel that kind of feel back home, not as a captain but as a player."
He shared his fellow South Korean players` sentiments that the decision would enhance the sport in his country and in Asia in general.
"It was my role and I guess Y.E.`s role to sort of open up the windows for Asian players in Europe and in the U.S.," Choi said. "I believe that we sort of trailblazed that Asian players can compete at that level as well.
"With the Presidents Cup coming into Korea and with a lot of Asian players growing up, it`s going to be another endeavor for the younger generation to build upon what we opened up."