Hong Kong golfer Taichi Kho hopes his recent gold-medal performance at the Asian Games will provide plenty of momentum going into this week’s Volvo China Open, the eighth event of the 2023 International Series schedule on the Asian Tour. He called it the “best golf I’ve ever played in my life.”
But while the immediate task starting with Thursday’s first round will be trying to solve the Hidden Grace Golf Club course that’s about an hour from his home, Kho also has some longer-range objectives in mind – specifically the LIV Golf Promotions event Dec. 8-10.
A big performance next month in Abu Dhabi could be life-changing, as the top three players will earn guaranteed full-season spots in the 2024 LIV Golf League.
Kho already has met the eligibility requirement for tournament entry thanks to his win in March at the Asian Tour’s World City Championship presented by Hong Kong Golf Club. If he can play well in the final three International Series events this month and move into the top eight of the season-long rankings, he would also receive a bye into the second round of the Promotions event. He currently ranks 33rd and is approximately $180,000 behind the player in eighth place, Kevin Yuan.
Either way, Kho – who turns 23 next week – will be at Abu Dhabi Golf Club next month. He’d love to follow in the footsteps of Scott Vincent, who has played every LIV Golf tournament in the first two years thanks to his success on the International Series and secured his spot for next year by moving into the Top 24 Lock Zone in the final regular-season LIV Golf event in Jeddah.
“It is a life-changing opportunity there to be able to play among the best golfers in the world for a full season,” said Kho, who became the first golfer from Hong Kong to win on the Asian Tour. “To see Scott keep his card was really great among the players in the locker room.
“Overall, it’s super exciting, and I am really looking forward to playing in it. Hopefully I have a good next three weeks and I have a bye into the second round.”
American Andy Ogletree already has a taste of LIV Golf – he was a reserve player this season – and is on the verge of locking up a full-time role without having to compete in the Promotions event.
With two wins this season on the International Series, along with a slate of other top-10 performances, Ogletree has a commanding lead in the International Series rankings and could seal his spot for 2024 with another win this week.
He’s already received interest from multiple LIV Golf teams and looks forward to joining the three players who’ll claim a golden ticket via the Promotions tournament.
“One thing I can say for sure is that three guys will have a life-changing experience that week and will be able to play golf against great competition for the next year and play what I think is the best tour in golf,” Ogletree said of LIV Golf.
One of the regular LIV Golf members playing this week in China is 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell. A member of Cleeks GC, McDowell finished in the Open Zone, ranking 42nd in points to avoid relegation. He hopes to continue his LIV career in 2024 but has not ruled out playing the Promotions event if absolutely necessary. Obviously, he’d like his status cleared up before then.
Still, he recognizes the path the tournament offers for players who are in the early stages of their professional careers.
“It is a unique format, and it is going to be an exciting weekend’s golf and it’s a very lucrative opportunity for the young players like Taichi,” the 44-year-old McDowell said.
“I’ll be super curious to see the field, when it gets announced, to see what kind of international players are making themselves available for the LIV Golf Promotions event.
“The format is very creative and very unique, a lot like LIV itself, going back to the blank canvas and being able to create fun and innovative formats to play this game. I think they’ve done a great job with the Promotions event. So, curiosity for sure, hoping not to be there but curious about the field and definitely excited to see that.”
Photo courtesy of Asian Tour