On Tuesday, as 31-year old Rory Hie ended his practice round at the Chandigarh Golf Course, the Indonesian golfer was followed by his father Tommy Hidayat. Hie, who became the first Indonesian golfer to win an Asian Tour event when he won the Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship at Gurgaon last month, started golf on the insistence of his father and as Hie leads the challenge in this week’s Milkha Singh Invitational Championship at Chandigarh Golf Course, the 31-year-old will be keenly watched by his father.
“It’s good to be back in India after I won my first professional title in Gurgaon last month. Like what Jeev said earlier, it was all about believing in myself. I feel that I was very comfortable and felt that I could win in Gurgaon. The win was my first win of this magnitude. To win my first professional title in India makes this country special for me. My father watched me win the title and he is here at Chandigarh too. Hopefully, I can win the title here,” shared Hie.
When his father worked in an American Oil Company in Balikpapan, Indonesia, Hie would accompany his father to the golf course, where his father played with his colleagues. Sometime later, the family moved to Jakarta, where Hie continued his golf practice, before the family moved to the US when Hie was ten. The youngster played at various clubs in USA before playing for University of Southern California, where he shot a score of 62 twice, the lowest score in the history of University. The youngster turned professional 11 years back and is now based in Jakarta.
“Initially, I did not like golf, I only accompanied my father. When we shifted to USA, my interest in golf grew and we would play on the different courses near Los Angeles. Playing for two years for University of Southern California also made me learn a lot of things,” recalls Hie.
In 2017, Hie had finished fourth in the take Solutions Masters in Bengaluru. This year, Hie claimed the title in Gurgaon with an impressive overall score of 21-under-267 and the win also meant that Hie pocketed a prize money of more than $54,000. Hie is among the 13 foreigners competing in the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational this week and the Indonesia golfer rates Jeev Milkha Singh highly.
“The first time I heard about Jeev was when Vijay Singh was the top-ranked golfer in the world and I also heard about Jeev Milkha Singh winning on Asian Tour and European Tour. To play in a tournament named after him is also special for me. He has won on Asian Tour, European Tour and Japan Tour and has been an inspiration to us all. Regarding Chandigarh Golf Course, the course here is similar to Bengaluru, where I finished fourth in 2017. The placement of the shot is the key here and to remain in the fairways will be the main challenge,” shared Hie.
The golfer also carries an Indonesian 1000 Rupiah coin with him and uses it as a divot repair tool apart from using it as a marker. Hie will be using the coin here too and has also tried Indian food. “The coin is like a chip and I use it as a marker apart from divot repair tool. It remains with me all the time. Regarding the Indian food, I tried chicken tikka and garlic naan in Gurgaon and will be trying it here too,” smiled Hie.