Word of the Fiji International is spreading with sports celebrities choosing to holiday in Fiji during the tournament period.
With American Brandt Snedeker announcing his participation in the 2016 tournament and confirmation that Fiji’s most successful athlete Vijay Singh will return for the third year, momentum around the Fiji International is growing.
Sports fans at the Fiji International will be entertained by the world class golfers competing in the tournament but should also keep their eyes peeled for two world-class athletes from a different sport.
Former Australian Wallabies captain George Gregan and Fiji’s own Lote Tuqiri, a dual-code rugby player, have signed on as ambassadors for the 2016 Fiji International.
Both keen golfers, Gregan and Tuqiri will attend the Fiji International to be played at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course from 6-9 October.
“The involvement of these two well-renowned rugby legends will definitely draw more interests to our shores. Rugby is the most admired sport in Fiji and we hope that through our brand ambassadors, our rugby fans in Fiji will also become golf fans and help further develop the sport locally.” said Hon Faiyaz Koya, Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism.
Gregan is Australia’s highest ever internationally capped rugby union player and since his retirement from the game he has spent a lot of time on the golf course.
2016 will be Gregan’s first trip to the Fiji International but he has already experienced life at an ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia golf tournament after playing in the New Zealand Open pro-am.
“Since watching the inaugural Fiji International on television, attending the tournament has been on my golfing bucket list,” said Gregan.
“I am really looking forward to combining a holiday with attending a world-class golf tournament.”
Fijian-Australian Tuqiri has represented Australia in both rugby league and rugby union. He also represented Fiji in the 2000 World Cup where he was the team’s top try and goal scorer for the tournament.
Tuqiri is excited to be heading home to watch his country’s biggest sporting event.
“I love golf and I love Fiji so to be able to combine them both is perfect,” said Tuqiri, who heard about the tournament from his cousin, Professional golfer Rika Batibasaga.
“My cousin, Rika, is actually a Tour Pro and played in the inaugural Fiji International. He has told me great things about the tournament, he isn’t playing this year but I can’t wait to check it out myself.”
Attracting Gregan and Tuqiri as Ambassadors for the Fiji International is part of the strategic direction to expose not only the tournament but Fiji to the world.
“George and Lote are world renowned athletes who each have a huge fan following. Their attendance at the Fiji International will place the tournament in front of the eyes of that following,” said Brian Thorburn, CEO of the PGA of Australia which oversees the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
“The Fiji International will continue to enhance its reputation as a must attend international sporting event through the positive endorsement of influential people like George and Lote.”
“We have already seen this from the player’s side. Matt Kuchar won the Fiji International in 2015 and through his positive endorsement World Number 22 Brandt Snedeker has decided to play this year.”
Before Gregan and Tuqiri enjoy watching the European Tour and ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia players in action, they will take on Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course themselves in the pro-am.
They will also show off the skills that earned their international accolades as talented athletes as they put on a rugby clinic.
The Fiji International will be played at Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course from 6-9 October. Tickets will be on sale shortly.