Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thai Stars Hit Form Ahead Of Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open

JAKARTA, March 14 - Defending champion Thaworn Wiratchant and the in-form duo of Prayad Marksaeng and Prom Meesawat will spearhead the Thai challenge at next week's U.S. $1 million Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open, the curtain raiser for OneAsia's much-anticipated 2012 season.

Countrymen Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Chapchai Nirat and Chawalit Plaphol, all recent winners on the Asian Tour, will also compete in the tournament, which is being jointly sanctioned by the Japan Tour for the first time.

Japanese legend Shingo Katayama, who has won 26 titles and banked $20.7 million during a fabulous career, 2010 OneAsia Order of Merit champion Liang Wenchong of China and last year's Asian Tour number one Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines headline the field at the challenging Emeralda Golf Club from March 22 to 25.

Veteran Thaworn won last year by a shot from joint runners-up Choi Jin-ho, local favourite Rory Hie and Michael Hendry of New Zealand, the 2010 winner, and he hopes memories of that famous victory will spark life into his game.

"I have not been playing well this season -- there has been no consistency about my game," said the 45-year-old Thaworn, one of the most decorated players in the region with a dozen Asian Tour titles to his name.

"I continue to work hard on my game and I hope to play well at the Indonesia Open as I am defending champion. It is a very difficult course - long with narrow fairways - but if I hit my tee shots well, I have a chance.”

Thaworn said that his victory last year was a satisfying one as he joined a select group of players who have won on OneAsia and the Asian Tour. He was victorious at the Indonesia Open in 2005, the year he was crowned Asia's number one.

"I am quite proud to have won on OneAsia as well as Asian Tour," he said."The Indonesia Open is a big tournament and I want to play as many big events as possible.”

Prayad, a three-time winner on the Japan Tour, gave the thumbs up to the joint sanction of the Indonesia Open.

"It is a good development - very positive for Asian golf," said Prayad.

"Because it is joint sanctioned with the Japan Tour there will be more Asian players in the field and the Japanese players, who do not normally play much outside of their own country, get an opportunity to compete overseas.”

The 46-year-old veteran continues to upstage Asia's young guns and comes into the Indonesia Open in confident mood after grabbing a spot at The Open Championship this summer with a sparkling second round 64 in International Final Qualifying at Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok.

Also, he won the Singha Masters, the blue riband event on the All Thailand Golf Tour, by seven shots from Chapchai last Sunday.

"I am bang in form at the moment and most of it is down to equipment. I am using a new driver (RAZR Fit) and a new set of irons. And they have a good feel," he said. "Right now, I am putting very well. "

Also, I am feeling fit and healthy as I am working out regularly with a fitness coach. I played well at Amata Spring and during the Singha Masters and hopefully I can carry that form into the Indonesia Open.”

Prom, nicknamed The Big Dolphin, is also making a bit of a splash again after a few barren years. He was sixth in the European Tour co-sanctioned Avantha Masters in India last month and lost a playoff at the SAIL-SBI Open the following week.

"I have had a good start to the season with a top-10 finish and a playoff loss," said Prom, whose sole success so far came at the 2006 SK Telecom Open.

"It was a great way to begin the year although I was disappointed not to have won in India. I will just keep working hard. I finished good at the end of last year and kept it going at start of 2012. "

I am just doing the same as last year. I am getting more confident with my putting but I am not hitting my driver so good. But my mind is still positive. I know I can drive the ball well.”

There will be a minimum of 14 events on OneAsia this season boasting overall prize money of $16 million.

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