Home favourites look forward to Samui challenge
Bangkok Airways Open promises to provide a thrilling climax to the
first half of the Asian Tour season with home favourites Thongchai
Jaidee, Thaworn Wiratchant and title holder Chawalit Plaphol leading
the title charge next week.
Thongchai will head into the US$300,000 tournament with renewed
confidence after delivering his best result this year at the BMW
PGA Championship in Wenthworth when he finished tied eighth on Sunday
while Thaworn, an eight-time winner on the Asian Tour, will be craving
for a first ever win on home soil.
But the dynamic duo will face an uphill task from June 7-10 with
the presence of the big movers this season who include in-form Indian
talent Gaurav Ghei, who won the Pine Valley Beijing Open in April,
Australias Unho Park, who is riding high in 15th place on
the Asian Tours UBS Order of Merit, and Scotsman Simon Yates
who claimed his third straight top-10 result at the SK Telecom Open
in Korea last week.
Gheis seventh place standing on the UBS Order of Merit is
a reflection of his formidable form this season where he has also
chalked up three top-10 finishes. Returning for the third straight
year to Koh Samui, the 38-year-old will be on the defensive playing
on a course dubbed by many as the Samui Beast.
The course has no margin for error and I have to keep the
ball in play, especially on the back nine. There is no let up and
I have to hit good shots. If someone plays well, there are a lot
of birdie opportunities because they will be hitting short irons
"Its one of those weeks where you will never know whats
going to happen until the very end. Its an exciting week for
everybody, said Ghei.
I always look forward to Samui. Its such a great place
and is very relaxing. Its laid back with great food, beaches
and a wonderful golf course. Its the perfect place to have
a tournament before the mid-year break, he added.
Being one of the very few players who have played in all the 15
events so far this season, Singapore-based Park hopes to make full
use of the much needed break this week in preparation of the grueling
task ahead on one of Thailands renowned holiday isle.
Driving is crucial there. Thankfully, Im hitting the
driver good these days. I hope to rest and recuperate this week.
I would probably head to the driving range and hit a few balls but
thats about it, said Park, who finished in the top-10
My goal is to stay in the top-20 on the UBS Order of Merit
ranking and so far, Im halfway there. I havent done
anything out of the ordinary with my game but I think my experience
has seen me through to a good run this year. Ive had my ups
and downs but thanks to what Ive learnt in the past, its
showing now, admitted Park.
Surprisingly, Thai-based Yates has never played in Samui despite
the fact that he has lived in Thailand for the past 15 years.
In my 15 years that Ive lived in Thailand, Ive
never been to Koh Samui, said Yates, with two wins in Asia.
I heard the view is fantastic but the course is very challenging.
If it gets windy it might be a problem but Im happy with the
way Im swinging it.
Im also well aware that the course requires a lot of
walking and you have to be fit, so Im going to do a lot of
swimming this week. Its very tight and I cant hit driver
that much but well see how it turns out, added the 37-year-old
speedster, who is also an avid racing car driver.
Local hero Chawalit will return to defend his title against the
likes of Chinese Taipeis Lu Wen-teh who finished fourth last
year. Lu, winner of the Bangkok Airways Open in 2005, is currently
in winning form after lifting the Macau Open title two weeks ago.
Also in the mix are Malaysias Airil Rizman, who won the Pakistan
Open in January and the TCL Classic winner Chapchai Nirat of Thailand.
The Bangkok Airways Open is the 16th leg of this seasons
Asian Tour Schedule which is offering 29 tournaments with a total
prize purse of over US$28 million.
May 31, 2007