Our press officers on the ground at Blackstone Golf Club take you behind the scenes of the Ballantine’s Championship…
One of the many perks of playing in the Ballantine’s Championship is the Gala Dinner, which takes place on Tuesday night in downtown Seoul. The Grand Hyatt is a suitably lavish setting for the black tie function, which starts with a cocktail photocall with the Korean duo of Bae Sang-moon and KT Kim and defending champion Bernd Wiesberger, who will be shaking and stirring to their heart’s content. The players then settle down to their meal which, appropriately enough given Ballantine’s Scottish roots, features haggis on the menu. Paul Lawrie, for one, should feel right at home…
A winning blend
Bernd Wiesberger’s victory last year earned the big-hitting Austrian not only a cool €367,500, but also the privilege of producing his very own Championship Blend. Graeme McDowell was the first player invited by the Ballantine’s Master Blender Sandy Hyslop to take part in the blending process after his victory in 2008, and this year that honour befell defending champion Wiesberger.The unique blend consists of high quality grain and malt whiskies, aged for at least 41 years. Only ten individually numbered bottles of the limited edition whisky have been produced, with one being awarded to whoever succeeds Wiesberger as champion, and another being auctioned for charity this week. As an extra incentive to successfully defend his title, Wiesberger will be hoping to sample his own blend on Sunday night.
Major men tackle Tuho
As befitting his status as a Major Champion and World Number Seven, Louis Oosthuizen arrived at the Ballantine’s Championship in some style courtesy of a private jet chartered by the tournament promoters. Oosthuizen touched down in South Korea in the early hours of Tuesday morning, ahead of his debut appearance in this week’s €2,205,000 event. One of his first duties as the highest-ranked player in the field is to take on his fellow Major Champion YE Yang at his own game – namely Tuho, which is a traditional Korean game of Chinese origin that requires players to throw sticks into a large canister. Tuho was also a popular drinking game, with the loser having to take a drink for every arrow that missed the pot. So if Y E or Louis are feeling a little off colour in the Pro-Am on Wednesday, we’ll know why!
Prizes galore at the Ballantine’s
This week, there is a raft of special prizes on offer, with a Hyundai Genesis awarded to the first pro during the tournament to ace the 16th hole and an Omega watch presented to any player achieving the feat at the seventh hole. In addition, any players making a birdie on the 17th hole will receive a bottle of Ballantine’s 17 year old whisky, whilst the reward for posting the lowest round of the day is a bottle of Ballantine’s 21 year old whisky. And if any player breaks the course record at Blackstone Golf Club, they’ll get their hands on a bottle of Ballantine’s 30 year old whisky. Cheers!