Local golfer Sam Lee is hoping to complete a hometown double at the Fiji International, which tees off this morning at Natadola Bay.
The 28 year old has competed in every edition since the tournament launched in 2014.
Lee finished in a share of 47th place last year but, fresh from winning the Fiji Open in June, he believes this could be his year.
“Every other year we’ve had the Fiji Open winner from overseas but this year I’ve won the Fiji Open so I took that spot and the best local got another spot,” he said.
“So that’s two from Fiji already from the Fiji Open and four extra from local qualifying so that helps. That’s been one of my goals to win the Fiji Open so we get another spot for Fiji.”
“The way I’ve been playing the last few months I would like to win it obviously,” Lee reflected.
“But I just have to make sure I don’t make too many mistakes and play my own golf, play the course – not worry about what other people are shooting and just play my golf.”
Lee is one of a record eight locals in the field this week and said the Fiji International has been a huge boost to the sport in Fiji.
“Most locals here don’t really know much about golf and I think this tournament being this large it just makes the locals aware of how big golf can be and obviously brings in a lot of tourism back to Fiji,” he said.
“It’s incredible and everybody that I’ve played with around the South Pacific say they’ve watched the Fiji International on TV and it’s just amazing.”
Three-time major winner Vijay Singh remains the biggest local drawcard and said he would love to see more Fijians in the field but also some bigger fish from overseas.
“I hope they can get more and more playing, gets a lot more interest to the locals here,” he said.
“I’m a little disappointed that there’s not enough Europeans here – there’s only eight or nine Europeans over here.
“I would like to see the dates changed where they can coincide with the Europeans coming closer to Fiji, so I’m going to try to work on that date.”
Vijay Singh tees off just after midday local time.
Sam Lee, who tees off at 6:55am local time alongside Richard Green and Rhein Gibson, said the Natadola Bay course can be brutal with the wind so he will have to bring his A-game and is tipping 16 under par to be a winning score.