Rising star Rattanon aims for more home success at Queen’s Cup

Rattanon WannasrichanKoh Samui, Thailand: Thai rising star Rattanon Wannasrichan will be shooting for a second straight Asian Tour victory on home soil when he tees up at the US$500,000 Queen’s Cup which starts on Thursday.

The 21-year-old secured his maiden Asian Tour title last month when he romped to a commanding start-to-finish win at the Thailand Open against the likes of reigning Order of Merit champion Scott Hend and 2013 Asian number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

With his confidence soaring sky high, Rattanon hopes a return to the holiday isle of Samui will lead him to another prestigious title. He will go head-to-head once again with title holder Hend and a stellar line-up which includes eight of the current top-10 players from the Order of Merit.

Second-ranked S.S.P Chawrasia of India, six-ranked Spaniard Carlos Pigem, Bangladeshi star Siddikur Rahman, who is a perennial contender in Samui, and another in-form Indian, Shiv Kapur are amongst those tipped to shine in the Queen’s Cup which is sponsored by Bangkok Airways and Sports Authority of Thailand.

After seeing hometown compatriot Chinnarat Phadungsil lift the inaugural Queen’s Cup back in 2009, Rattanon said winning on the Asian Tour soon became his dream which he achieved so convincingly at his national Open.

Straight-shooting Kapur, 34, will be amongst the top contenders as he surprisingly makes his debut in the Queen’s Cup. After ending a nearly 12 year wait for a second Asian Tour win at the Yeangder Heritage, he went on to finish runner-up behind Rattanon in the Thailand Open with a barnstorming final round of 63.

The 26-year-old Pigem is equally confident he can chase for a second Asian Tour title following a strong first half of the year where he posted three top-10s, including a runner-up finish in Myanmar. The dashing Spaniard also finished top-20 at the Queen’s Cup last year after missing the cut in his debut in 2015.

With three top-three finishes and two other tied eighth outings at Santiburi Samui, Siddikur, the first Bangladeshi to win on the Asian Tour, will be hoping his time will finally arrive for him to lift the Queen’s Cup this week.

Did you know?
• Rattanon finished top-five at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open and inaugural Yeangder Heritage in Taipei before securing his maiden Asian Tour victory at the Thailand Open last month.
• In five previous appearances in Santiburi Samui, Rattanon has missed the cut only once and finished tied 14th as his best in 2014.
• He represented Thailand as an amateur and won the Southeast Asian Games ‘double’ gold medal in the team and individual category in 2011.
• Rattanon is currently the joint leader in the putting category on Tour with an average of 1.7 putts per greens in regulation.
• Shiv has finished first and second in his last two starts on the Asian Tour. His win at the Yeangder Heritage was his second Tour triumph after a gap of nearly 12 years.
• Shiv has shot closing rounds of 64 and 63 in his last two tournaments. He will also be making his debut at the Queen’s Cup. He finished fourth at the Bangkok Airways Open in 2005 when it was held at Santiburi Samui.
• Siddikur has posted two top-10s this season, finishing second in his home Open and ninth at the Panasonic Open Japan.
• In seven previous appearances, Siddikur has finished top-10 on five occasions at the Queen’s Cup. He finished third in 2014 and 2015, eighth in 2013 and tied second in 2012. He pulled out last year with a back injury. His lowest round in Samui is a 64 shot in 2014.
• Pigem holds one Asian Tour victory with his success at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Taipei last season.
• He has finished second in Myanmar and fifth in India this year. Pigem also enjoyed a tied eighth outing at the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco and was tied 28th last week at the Lyoness Open on the European Tour.
• After missing the cut in his Queen’s Cup debut in 2015, he finished tied 19th here last season.