Jeev, Jyoti to lead India's challenge at Macau Open

Macau: The Venetian Macau Open will boast its strongest ever Asian Tour field next week with an ensemble of six Order of Merit champions and no fewer than 40 other Tour winners featuring in the popular tournament.

Former Asian Tour number ones, Liang Wen-chong of China, India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and last year’s Merit winner Thaworn Wiratchant, will headline the elite field at the Macau Golf and Country Club from October 17-20.

Thai ace Kiradech Aphibarnrat, the current number one, will be amongst the galaxy of Tour winners who include former Macau Open champions Zhang Lian-wei of China, Lu Wen-teh, Chan Yih-shin and Wang Ter-chang of Chinese Taipei, American Jason Knutzon, Australian David Gleeson and title holder Gaganjeet Bhullar of India.

Additionally, nine of the current top-10 players on the Order of Merit, including the in-form Scott Hend of Australia, will shoot for glory at the Venetian Macau Open.

Four-time Major champion Ernie Els of South Africa will make his debut in the US$800,000 Venetian Macau Open as the tournament continues to attract many of the world’s top players. In the past, other Major champions such as Fred Couples, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh , Padraig Harrington and Nick Price have graced the fairways of Macau Golf and Country Club.

The tenacious Jeev Milkha Singh, the only Indian to win two Order of Merit titles, is looking forward to returning to Macau.

“I finished fourth in Macau a couple of years ago. It’s a fantastic place. I enjoy playing on the golf course but it’s a difficult one as it gets pretty windy up there. You have to hit the ball really well and manage your game on the course,” said Singh.

“Hopefully it will be another good week for me. I’m looking forward to getting back there. I’ve got good memories as it’s a great city with good food. And it’s always good to be coming back to the Asian Tour … it feels like coming back home,” added the 41-year-old, who holds six Asian Tour victories.

With an unprecedented three Order of Merit crowns under his belt, Thongchai will be looking to add the Venetian Macau Open to his decorated list of victories.

He finished fourth in the 2001 edition and was equal eighth last year when Bhullar ran off with an impressive wire-to-wire victory.

“I am looking forward to returning to the Venetian Macau Open. It is one of my favourite cities in Asia and the Macau Golf and Country Club is truly challenging indeed. I’ve enjoyed a good season so far but I’ll be pushing hard to secure my first win of 2013 in Macau. My game feels good at the moment and I’m looking forward to playing again,” said Thongchai.

“I played in the tournament last year and finished eighth and I’m looking to improve on that performance. It will be a really strong field with the likes of Ernie Els, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Jeev Milkha Singh and Arjun Atwal in the field.”

Jointly organised by Macau Sport Development Board of Macau SAR Government (MSDB) and Golf Association of Macau, the tournament is sanctioned by the latter and the Asian Tour, and promoted by IMG. Following a successful foray into the world of golf last year, The Venetian® Macao-Resort-Hotel recently announced it will return as title sponsor of the event for a second successive year.

The Venetian Macau Open will be a free entry event for golf fans from around the world to enjoy live world class professional golf in one of the best loved destinations for leisure and business travel in Asia.

Since its inauguration in 1998, the tournament has been graced by the presence of some of the best golfers the world has ever seen, including Lee Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, Nick Faldo, Padraig Harrington, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam and Mark O’Meara. This year’s event boasts a total prize fund of US$800,000, an increase of 6.7% compared to last year.

Sponsors joining The Venetian Macao in support of the tournament include Rolex, Srixon, Air Macau, Blue Girl and Bonaqua, as well as first time sponsors Lamborghini, Maui Jim, Subway, Hytera and Hong Kong Descente, which carries both the Le Coq Sportif Golf Collection and Munsingwear.