MG Keyser has just returned to Dubai fresh from the Asian Tour’s International Series — Thailand with a share of 11th place in the $1.5 million event at Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin.
And the South African, who calls Dubai and Jumeirah Golf Estates home, had more than one reason for the big smile on his face as Gulf News caught up with him to chat about the revamped Asian Tour.
Reason No. 1: Four days’ work earned him $23,737.50
Reason No. 2: The T11 result took him into the top 20 in the Asian Tour Order of Merit after three events.
And, possibly, most importantly - Reason No. 3: Life in general has vastly improved since the Tour got back on track after almost two years of disruptions due to Covid-19. There has also been significant investment in the Asian Tour with increased prize money and a host of new tournaments and initiatives, including the flagship $5 million Saudi International and the 10-event International Series.
Keyser is now taking a short break from life on tour at his home in JVC, and took time out to reflect on the season so far.
“Things are on a different level now,” Keyser told Gulf News. “Take Black mountain for example. Everything had a special feel about it as part of the International Series. There is a real top-level feel to everything now. The media coverage, the lounges, pretty much everything has gone up a huge notch.
“With all these events — and the Saudi International — it really helps you thrive as a player as everything feels good and looks good.
“The Asian Tour is now on such a high stage — thanks to the prize funds and the new tournaments and coverage.”
Keyser is delighted to get a solid result in early in the season.
“It was nice to shoot two 66s back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “It really sets me up for the year, the main aim is still to keep my card even though I am inside the top 20 at the moment.
“Keeping cards is one thing, but the Asian Tour has proved it is not a stepping stone anymore. Before, everyone had an eye on the European Tour and PGA Tour, but now everyone here seems to be playing for keeps and plans to stay on the Asian Tour.”
There are host of household names who contend on the Asian Tour including Thongchai Jaidee, Jazz Janewattananond and Shubhankar Sharma, and there are some groundbreaking events on the horizon such as two $1.5 million mixed competitions with the Ladies European Tour in Thailand.
“The quality is certainly there — we have guys like Steve Lewton, and Kim — even (Ryder Cup star and former world No. 3) Paul Casey plays over here regularly,” Keyser said. “I mean, you grow up watching your heroes and the best in world and, of course, there is no better way to improve than to play against the likes of them. If the opportunity comes up, no one will say no, but you will see that we will get more and more on the Asian Tour, and we also have new innovations such as the mixed events alongside the Ladies European Tour. It is an exciting time.”