Crans Montana: SSP Chawrasia of India is feeling positive vibes as he chases for a first victory on European soil at the Omega European Masters, which gets underway on Thursday.
After representing his country in the Olympics earlier this month, the 38-year-old Chawrasia is now setting his sights on challenging for the prestigious title at the scenic Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
He will be among the elite field this week which includes title holder and The Masters champion Danny Willett of England, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, Marcus Fraser of Australia and Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick at the €2.7 million (approximately US$3 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Chawrasia, who won his fourth Asian Tour title at the Hero Indian Open in March, finished tied 24th last year for his best result in the Swiss showpiece and could have enjoyed an even better result if not for a bogey and double bogey finish.
“Every time I play on a short course, I feel very positive. My game suits this course and I feel that I can win here. I’m hoping for the best. I take 30 seconds to hit a tee shot here and after that, I’m just looking at the beautiful sceneries. It is very beautiful here,” said Chawrasia.
“This is not a long golf course and it is good for short hitters like myself! I’m feeling positive ahead of this week and I’m looking forward when it starts. I played well here last year but it could have been much better,” he added.
The experience of playing in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has motivated Chawrasia to work even harder and shoot for the stars.
“I’m very lucky to represent my country in the Olympics. The experience was completely different as compared to playing in a normal golf tournament. The athletes are so serious when it comes to training and fitness. That has sort of pushed me to work harder and put in even more effort in my training. It was a huge motivation for me,” said the Indian.
Another Olympian, Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines is determined to shine in his debut appearance at the Omega European Masters.
Ranked fourth on the Order of Merit, thanks to two top-five results this season, Tabuena hurt his shoulder at the Olympics but is now fully fit to challenge for the title at the Omega European Masters.
“It is really exciting to be here. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this place and I was in awe when I arrived here. The views from the tee boxes are unreal. I’m playing well and I’m happy with my game. I just need to grind it out a bit more,” said the 21-year-old.
“I was supposed to play in a local event after the Olympics but I decided to take it easy. I wanted to be 100% healthy for this week. There’s so much at stake for me. If I do well, I can put some pressure on Marcus Fraser on the Order of Merit.
“I don’t feel any pain now and I hope I continue to remain injury free. Honestly, I feel fine so I’m glad I can play this week without any worries,” added Tabuena, who won his National Open last year for his first Asian Tour victory.
Chan Shih-chang of Chinese Taipei earned a debut appearance at the Omega European Masters after winning his first Asian Tour title at the King’s Cup presented by PTT last month.
He hopes to continue his winning momentum at Crans after claiming another title on the local circuit last week.
“Honestly, I can’t believe I won the King’s Cup presented by PTT. The victory changed a lot of things in my career and it allowed me to play in this week’s Omega European Masters. I’m so happy,” said Chan.
“I think I can play well here. I still have that winning feeling because I won on the local circuit last week. I don’t know what to expect. I just want to play and not think too much. That’s what I did at King’s Cup and I won,” he smiled.