Lifanov is a Russian who has lived in Kazakhstan for much of his life and is a professional golfer who took part in this week’s Kazakhstan Open, where Scott Henry emerged victorious after a dramatic play-off victory, as an invite.Having built from a point where very few had even heard of the game, hosting the European Challenge Tour ‘Major’ in the Central Asian country is a testament to the dedication and motivation he has for the development of golf here.
He is certainly not resting on his laurels, however, and wants to bring it to the next level in every facet of the growth of the game.“I believe that Kazakhstan will someday have a European Tour event,” he said. “We are looking to have two events, one on the Challenge Tour and one on The European Tour.
“Our juniors are growing very well and getting lots of knowledge about the game and they are ready to have this kind of big events into the country and have more experience from the top professional golfers in the world.“I believe the country is growing well in terms of golf and in the very short future we will have a new Colin Montgomerie-designed course just outside of Almaty which will be ready to host big events.
“We started from the very bottom. It was very difficult. We had huge support from the president of the country. He loves to play golf and we receive a huge response from him, always speaking warmly of the participants for the Kazakhstan Open.“He is always asking about the results and also asking about the future of the tournament. It’s very good for the country.
“Hopefully we will get more and more support from the Ministry of Sport as well as the Olympic Committee so we can have Kazakh players play in the Olympics in the future.”As for the Challenge Tour tournament, Lifanov thinks it is a huge boost for the country’s image and is determined to put the country on the golfing map.
In that spirit, he has his own term to which he refers the golfers that come to play in this tournament every September.“They are 140-150 ambassadors of Kazakhstan every year,” Lifanov said. “They come over to play and fly home and discuss this tournament and of course, more tourists are coming on the back of this tournament and it’s very important for us.
“Hopefully we will become known around the world as a golfing country. We’re pretty much on the right track to be known as a golf country.”
The Olympics in 2020 is the ultimate goal for Lifanov in terms of really announcing their name on the world scene and he believes Daulet Tuleubayev, the 13 year old wonderkid who also played this week and is coached by Butch Harmon, will play a big part in achieving that aim.He said: “Hopefully we will have players on the world stage very soon. My ambitions are to have players for the Olympics 2020 so I hope Daulet will help this progress because his time to be playing amongst the world’s top players will be around 2020 so hopefully we will have some more and climb the Rankings.”