Fiji: Bangladeshi hero Siddikur Rahman is planning to adopt a relaxed attitude as he tees off for the tri-sanctioned Fiji International at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course on Thursday.
Although the 32-year-old is enjoying a rich vein of form of late, he is not setting himself any targets in his maiden appearance at the the A$1.5 million (approximately US$1.14 million) event on the holiday isle of Fiji.
Siddikur came close to securing his third Asian Tour title on home soil before setting for a runner-up finish in February. He notched another top-10 result in Japan before hogging the limelight again with a tied-third place finish in Germany last month.
Like Siddikur, Indian stalwart Rahil Gangjee is also entering the week in good form. He hopes to make up for a lackluster first half of the season, where he made only two cuts in eight starts, with a strong showing at the Fiji International.
China’s Liu Yan-wei, who is playing on a sponsor’s invite this week, hopes to make the most of his opportunity as he chases for a breakthrough in his burgeoning career.
From being ranked in 1092nd position on the Official World Golf Ranking at the start of the season, Liu has moved to his current 587th place, thanks to three top-three results on the Asian Development Tour, one top-10 finish on the Asian Tour and a tied-11th place on the European Tour at the Shenzhen International in April.
Did you know?
Siddikur has enjoyed a relatively good season so far, claiming two top-10 finishes and missing only three cuts in nine starts on the Asian Tour. He sits in 17th place on the current Order of Merit.
Siddikur impressed with a tied-third result at the Porsche European Open in Hamburg, Germany last month. It was his career-best result in an event sanctioned solely by the European Tour.
Siddikur came in runner-up after Jeunghun Wang pipped him to the title at the 2016 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, the first tri-sanctioned event to be held on the Asian Tour.
Siddikur became the first sportsman from his country to qualify for the 2016 Olympics on merit and was accorded the honour of being the flagbearer for Bangladesh during the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.
Gangjee, a one-time winner on the Asian Tour but not since 2004, hopes to continue his good form this week. He finished tied-15th at the Queen’s Cup in June and tied-eighth at the TAKE Solutions Masters on home soil two weeks ago.
Liu Yan-wei is the only player in the field from China this week.
Siddikur, Gangjee, Liu and Poom are all making their debut appearances in the Fiji International, which was inaugurated in 2014, this week.
The Fiji International is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the European Tour and the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia for the first time.
Siddikur Rahman (Ban)
I am still trying to cope with the jet lag but I am really excited to be here in Fiji for the first time. I played yesterday and it was not as windy as I thought. I expect it to be windier in the next few days. Hopefully I can get a taste of the windy conditions this afternoon before the tournament starts.
The game’s feeling good. I am hoping to ride on the good momentum coming into this week. I had a superb week in Germany last month, claiming a tied-third finish on the European Tour. Things have been coming along really nicely so I am hoping for the best this week.
I take pride in my results so far this season. I am really happy with the way I have been playing. I practise a lot and I work a lot on my fitness. I am glad the efforts are paying off. I don’t set targets for myself anymore. I don’t want to myself any expectations. I just want to enjoy my game.
I think I am lucky because I tend to play better under windy conditions. I heard it can really windy here on this course but I am prepared for it.
I haven’t had time to explore Fiji but I would love to do so over the next few days. I have got a rented car so would probably drive around and check out the places here.
Rahil Gangjee (Ind)
It’s a very straightforward golf course. It’s right there in front of you, no secrets and no hidden traps. The main thing to note on this golf course is the wind.
It didn’t get really windy yesterday and it was raining today but the wind is surely going to be a factor this week.
You need to get the numbers right. You got to try and hit as many greens as possible because it’s going to be tough if you miss it. It’s hard to make up and own, especially in the wind.
I am pretty happy with the way I am playing right now. It was not that great in the first half of the season so I worked out on my short game a little bit. It’s getting better now.
It’s my first time in Fiji and it’s been phenomenal. It reminds me of Mauritius and it’s amazing.
Liu Yan Wei (Chn)
I am getting some good vibes coming here. It’s a beautiful golf course. It gets very windy but overall, it’s good. The game’s shaping up pretty nicely as well.
It’s my first time in Fiji and also my first time playing in a tri-sanctioned event. It’s been really nice and I am enjoying myself so far! It’s always nice to be near the beach.
I have had some pretty good results in the first half of the season so I hope to maintain my good form and carry it forward into the second half. I had some good opportunities to play in bigger events this season as well and that has helped me a lot in my game.
I have gained a lot of experiences playing against the top players in the world. Hopefully I can put them to good use this week. I just want to focus on preparing myself well this week. No expectations, I am just glad to be here.
Poom Saksansin (Tha)
I arrived in Fiji last night and I can’t wait to head out to play the course. I am very excited about this week. I have heard about the tough and windy conditions on course before coming here so I am prepared for it. The course looks really beautiful from what I have seen so far.
The game is in a good shape and I am feeling confident after winning my second Asian Tour title in India two weeks ago. I had a simple dinner celebration with my family when I got home from India. It’s been great so far. I just hope to bring the positive vibes into this week.
It’s a brand-new week for me and back to the starting line again this week. I just hope to play my best and get more good results heading into the remainder of the season.