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Reigning merit champion O’toole leads ADT Stars to the Players Championship

Singapore: A power-packed line-up led by reigning Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit champion Casey O’Toole of the United States will feature in the inaugural US$100,000 Players Championship which gets underway at the Raffles Country Club on Wednesday.

O’Toole will challenge for the title alongside 2014 Merit champion Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand, young talent Phachara Khongwatmai and Chinese Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang, who holds a combined total of 11 victories on the region’s burgeoning Tour.

They will be joined by Filipino veterans Frankie Minoza and Antonio Lascuna, as well as Sweden’s Daniel Chopra, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour and a winner on the Asian Tour, at the Players Championship, which will be the curtain raiser for the brand new 2016 season.

Five-time Asian Tour winner Mardan Mamat, who is playing on his home course this week, will spearhead the local charge alongside home-grown talents Quincy Quek, who earned his 2016 Asian Tour card at the Qualifying School last week, as well as Lam Chih Bing and Koh Deng Shan.

O’Toole, who has enjoyed a successful 2015 season thanks to one victory and nine top-10s, is hopeful of riding on his recent run of good form to secure a second ADT victory.

“I am very excited to come back to Singapore. I played well here at the Asian Tour’s event a few months ago and my game’s feeling good right now. I just claimed a runner-up finish in Sabah two weeks ago. I hope to play well again this week. We’ve got a great field and it’s one of the best that I have seen on the ADT,” said the 25-year-old American.

Buoyed by home support, Koh is also eyeing a hot start to the season as he relishes the opportunity of playing on a course which he is very familiar with.

“Getting to play on my home course is definitely an advantage. I hope my familiarity with the golf course will be of help for me this week. It’s always great to be playing on home soil. We don’t get many opportunities like this so I will do my best to play well,” said the 27-year-old Singaporean.

“I am sure this will be a good opportunity for all Singaporeans in the field too. I am feeling confident with my game right now. I will try my best to keep the trophy on home soil,” added Koh, who had won on his home course on the domestic circuit last July.

Other notable players in the field include Malaysia’s Gavin Green, Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Chi-hsien, who finished second on the 2015 money list, American Berry Henson and Masaru Takahashi of Japan.

The Players Championship is the first ADT event to feature in Singapore since the ADT was inaugurated as a gateway to the region’s premier Tour in 2010. The season-opener will also feature celebrity golfer Mike Kasem, who will attempt to beat the professionals at the Raffles Country Club. Kasem is a renowned local radio DJ who hosts the morning breakfast show on GOLD 905.

The ADT has grown immensely from five events in the first year in 2010 to a record 28 tournaments in 2015. A total of 18 tournaments has been confirmed for the 2016 season with several to be announced in due course.

With the Olympic Games looming in August 2016 where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, players in the region could earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro by earning Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points through the Asian Tour and ADT.