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Battle of brothers at Taiwan Masters

Lin Wen-ko's title defence of the US$390,000 Mercuries Taiwan Masters this week will come under threat from a group of in-form players, including his older brother Lin Wen-tang.

Last year, the unheralded Lin claimed an unlikely victory on home soil ahead of Thai star Thongchai Jaidee but since his breakthrough, the Chinese Taipei player has failed to replicate that success.

Lin will begin his defence on Thursday at Taiwan Golf and Country Club in what is the Asian Tour's 15th leg this season.

"I remember last year's event well. It was the most nervous that I've been on the golf course and coming down the stretch, Thongchai bogeyed the 17th to give me the edge. I was so lucky (last year). Hopefully, I can do it again," said Lin.

Last week's Kolon Korean Open winner Edward Loar of the United States will tee up with an added dose of confidence following his three shot victory over a field that included world number three Ernie Els.

Scotsman Simon Yates, whose runner-up finish in Korea has vaulted him to second place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit behind Thongchai, who is not in the field this week, will be another player to watch as he has been going great guns all season.

Apart from winning the SK Telecom Open in Korea in May, the Thai-based Yates has four top-five finishes. "I've been playing nicely these last few months and I did alright in Korea on a tough golf course."

Other players tipped to shine include Thai veteran Boonchu Ruangkit, a former winner of this event, and local favourite Wen-tang, the highest ranked Chinese Taipei player on the Asian Tour money ranking.

The elder Lin won the ROC PGA Championship on the domestic circuit in August to follow in his father's footsteps and with the Mercuries Taiwan Masters ranked as one of the top three events in Chinese Taipei, the 30-year-old is determined to add to his collection, even if it means dethroning his brother.

He finished tied 15th last year while his best outing in the Mercuries tournament was equal ninth in 2000. This season, Lin, currently 24th on the money ranking, has played in eight events and has been in the money in every one of them, with his best finish being tied ninth in the Macau Open and worst being joint 45th.

In contrast, his younger brother is ranked 72nd and has made only four cuts from nine tournaments this season.

The home challenge will also include several veterans and former winners such as Chen Tze-chung, Yeh Chang-ting and Lu Wen-teh and Tsai Chi-huang. Golf legend Hsieh Min-nan, who captained Asia to victory over Japan in the inaugural Dynasty Cup in 2003, is also in this week's field as a former winner of the event.

Five players in the top-10 of the Asian Tour Order of Merit are playing this week. They are Yates, Australian Brad Kennedy, Greg Hanrahan, Boonchu and Singapore 's Mardan Mamat.

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