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Thursday August 30, 2012 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday June 1, 2013 MYT 5:33:14 PM
PETALING JAYA: An elite group of 30 Asian Tour champions, headlined by top stars Thaworn Wiratchant and Prom Meesawat of Thailand and Bangladesh’s Siddikur, will gather at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters next week.
This season’s winners – Singapore veteran Mardan Mamat, Australian Kieran Pratt and big-hitting Scott Hend – will also be among the leading contenders looking to dethrone title-holder Joonas Granberg of Finland at the RM1.2mil Asian Tour tournament at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club from Sept 5-8.
Former champions – Angelo Que of the Philippines, who won in 2010, and Australian Rick Kulacz, victorious in 2009 – will also be eyeing top honours in one of the Asian Tour’s most popular tournaments.
Such is the strength of the field that three of the top-five ranked players on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit – Thaworn (third), American David Lipsky (fourth) and Prom (fifth) – and 10 players from the current top-20 will grace the event.
All eyes, though, will be on the man in form – Thaworn, who equalled compatriot Thongchai Jaidee for the most number of victories on the Asian Tour with his 13th title at the Queen’s Cup on home soil in June. A return to Kota Permai will also bring back happy memories for the unorthodox swinging Thai, who swept to a commanding victory in the 2001 Volvo Masters of Malaysia.
The 45-year-old Thaworn, Asia’s No. 1 in 2005, has shown no signs of slowing down when he won the Queen’s Cup by three shots from Siddikur and Filipino Juvic Pagunsan two months ago.
As the highest ranked player in the field, Thaworn will be keen to live up to his top billing.
He also knows that if he can get into contention in the final round, he stands a good chance of winning an unprecedented 14th title.
“My experience helps with the mental game. It helps me keep calm. I can control that,” said Thaworn, who also has two second-placed finishes in Indonesia and South Korea this season.
Another veteran keen to secure a second title of the season is Singapore’s Mardan, who ended a five-year title drought by winning the ICTSI Philippine Open, Asia’s oldest national championship, in February.
The 44-year-old’s career has been revived following a new fitness regime.
“I did a lot of workouts (in pre-season). I spent four or five times a week in the gym with my trainer. I think that has helped me improve my fitness. I’m feeling relaxed,” said Mardan, who is Singapore’s first million-dollar earner on the Asian Tour.
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