Shah Alam: An elite group of 30 Asian Tour champions will gather at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters next week, headlined by top stars Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, countryman Prom Meesawat and Bangladeshi ace Siddikur.
This season’s winners - Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat, Australian Kieran Pratt and big-hitting Scott Hend - will also be amongst the leading contenders looking to dethrone title holder Joonas Granberg of Finland at the RM1.2 million (approximately US$395,000) Asian Tour tournament at Kota Permai Golf and Country Club from September 5-8.
Former champions of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters, Angelo Que of the Philippines, who won in 2010, and Australian Rick Kulacz, victorious in 2009, will also be shooting for 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) are playing while a total of 10 players from the current top-20 will grace in the event.
All eyes will be on the man in form, Thaworn, who sensationally equaled countryman 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 which is one of two Malaysian wins which he has amassed in his illustrious career.
At the age of 45, Thaworn, Asia’s number one in 2005, has shown no signs of slowing down when he won his latest title 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 and knows that if he can get into contention in the final round, he will stand a good chance of winning an unprecedented 14th title.
“My experience helps with the mental game. It helps me calm down and not get nervous. I can control that,” said Thaworn, who also has two other second place finishes in Indonesia and Korea this season.
Despite sweeping almost all before him in Asia, Thaworn has not let his guard down in the wake of the game welcoming numerous young champions. He still wakes up before dawn for a morning run and subsequently spends the rest of the morning sharpening his renowned short game. He then plays a round of golf, often with Thai youngsters, in his home club at the army course in Bangkok.
“I still work hard at my game. I’m happy that I have played well this season,” he said.
Another veteran who will be 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.
Currently 13th on the rankings, the 44-year-old enjoys playing at Kota Permai as he has successfully qualified for the World Cup with partner Lam Chih Bing at the outstanding venue. A new fitness regime this season has also rejuvenated his golf career.
“I did a lot of work out (in pre-season). I spent four or five times a week in the gym with my trainer. I think that has helped my fitness better. I’m feeling relaxed,” said Mardan, who is Singapore’s first million-dollar earner on the Asian Tour.
Australia’s charge will be led by the exciting talents of Hend, the longest driver on the Asian Tour for the past few seasons. He secured a second Asian Tour title at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic earlier this season and is presently ranked eighth on the Order of Merit.
Pratt, one of Australia’s new and rising stars, broke through with a win at the season-opening Zaykabar Myanmar Open where he defeated countryman Adam Blyth and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand in a play-off.
The final two rounds of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters, which is celebrating its fifth year on the Asian Tour, will be beamed live around the world on the Asian Tour’s global platform which reaches over 200 countries and 650 million homes.
By Indian Sports News Network