Tumba and princess Birgitta golfed on eastern seaboard

Swedish golf enthusiast Sven Tumba and his old buddy HRH princess Birgitta of Sweden formed one of the teams competing in the 2004 World Golfers Championship amateur tournament played 7 to 14 November at four golf courses on Thailand’s eastern seaboard.
     “Bloody good! Simply great,” says 73 years young Sven Tumba, golf handicap 9, about the Thai courses he played this time: Laem Chabang, Burapha, Phoenix and Khao Kheow.
     He and princess Birgitta, the 67 year old sister to Sweden’s king Carl XVI Gustaf, formed team Royal Sweden in the open division, reaching the 8th spot. Both captured a 6th place in their respective flights in the open individuals category in the championship.
     Team Austria won the closed as well as open division with Sweden as runner up in the closed division.
     The Austrians were also most successful nationality in the individual competitions
     Well over 100 players took part, representing more than ten countries.
     Princess Birgitta has been in Sven Tumba’s tournament advisory board since the start 1995.
     “It is great to have her support. We have been buddies since school time,” says Sven Tumba.
     The princess, who had a short and highly publicised romance with Sven Tumba in the late 1950’s, now lives in Mallorca, Spain, while the former ice hockey and soccer ace who turned golf fanatic in the 1960’s, Sven Tumba and his wife Mona, divide their time between Florida and Sweden.
     There were some complaints on stingy pricing for refreshments to tournament officials at the hotel, and also too many language problems on the course between players and caddies. But all in all a successful sporting event.
     This was the ninth final of Sven Tumba’s brainchild, a truly fair world amateur championship based on handicap, and the first ever in Asia after playing all previous games in the US and the Caribbean. They will return to this continent next year.
     “Yes. We will play 2005 and 2006 in Asia as well. In what country is not yet decided,” says Sven Tumba during an interview at the Royal Cliff hotel where all players stayed.
     Thailand stands a good chance next year but it won’t come easy.
     Golf associations from Malaysia and the Philippines showed up at the tournament, with the Malaysians distributing lots of golf and travel brochures.
     Indonesia has also shown some interest, according to Sven Tumba.
     That while the host nation’s marketing people did not appear, neither from the golf side nor from any of the tourism agencies.
     A very positive development is that official Swedish golf now fully supports the amateur tournament. The Swedish Golf Federation was present in Thailand with three senior officials.
     At a seminar on 12 November they announced SGF’s initiative to run a Swedish National Handicap Championship 2005, from which team players for the finals will be selected.
     “That is very encouraging,” says Sven Tumba.
     He and his tournament really deserve the official back up.
     It is after all thanks to Sven Tumba’s burning enthusiasm for golf since the 1960’s it has become the second largest sport in Sweden, engaging some 600 000 registered players in over 470 clubs.
     Only soccer is bigger in Sweden.
     That on a population size less than what Bangkok can muster!
     No wonder Swedish golf produces so many world class players.
     “On the lady side we are number one while the men are bit behind. But Jesper Parnevik is picking up again,” says the ever optimistic Sven Tumba.
     Read more about the tournament at http://www.worldchampionshipgolf.com

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