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Thaworn Wiratchant joins select group

The season keeps getting sweeter for Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand as victory in the Hero Honda Indian Open on Sunday pushed him closer towards the Asian Tour Order of Merit title.

Thaworn's two-shot triumph at Delhi Golf Club came with a winner's cheque of US$47,250 which propelled his season's earnings to US$448,225. He also joined compatriot Thongchai Jaidee and Korea's Kang Wook-soon as players with the most victories in Asia with seven titles.

The 38-year-old Thai also became only the fourth player in Asian Tour history to win three times in a year, joining Chinese Taipei's Lin Keng-chi, Simon Dyson of England and Korea's Charlie Wi in the elite group.

With five more Order of Merit events to play this season, Thaworn leads Thongchai by US$94,505 in the race to become Asia's number one.

Thongchai, who did not play in India, has played fewer events on the Asian Tour this year compared to Thaworn but both players will battle it out again this week at the inaugural US$300,000 Double A International Open on home soil.

"I don't know why I am playing so good this year. I have been doing the same thing throughout my career right from when I was an amateur. I think I am just more lucky now," said Thaworn, who earlier this year won the Standard Chartered Indonesia Open and Taiwan Open.

In 21 tournaments, Thaworn has only missed two cuts and registered five top-10s and five other top-20s along with his victories, which has seen him set a new earnings record in a single season. He is on target to become the first player in Asian history to surpass US$500,000 in a season.

India's Jyoti Randhawa, who finished sixth at the weekend, lies a distant third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit with US$223,660 while Australian Terry Pilkadaris is fourth, moving up one rung after his fifth-place finish in India.

Australian rookie Andrew Buckle dropped to fifth but is still in sight to gain an exemption into the HSBC Champions Tournament in Shanghai in two weeks times which will be headlined by Tiger Woods.

All tournament winners from November 8 of last year through this week's Double A International Open, plus the top-five players on the Order of Merit not otherwise exempt as of Sunday, will gain places in Shanghai.

At the opposite end of the Order of Merit, the focus remains on players to finish inside the top-60 which will see them regain their full playing privileges for 2006. Malaysia's Danny Chia missed the cut in New Delhi last week to fall one rung to 61st place while Harmeet Kahlon of India moved up to 60th place after finishing 15th in his home Open.

South Africa's Hendrik Buhrmann leapt to 62nd position from his previous 87th after sharing third place last weekend.


Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)

1. Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 448,225

2 Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 353,720

3 Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND) 223,660

4 Terry PILKADARIS (AUS) 212,281

5 Andrew BUCKLE (AUS) 202,163

6 Scott BARR (AUS) 155,088

7 Marcus BOTH (AUS) 147,097

8 Ted OH (KOR) 146,678

9 LU Wen-teh (TPE) 145,535

10 Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 140,446

11 LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 135,348

12 James KINGSTON (RSA) 125,761

13 Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 121,065

14 Anthony KANG (USA) 117,674

15 Jeev Milkha SINGH (IND) 116,478

16 LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) 112,579

17 Scott STRANGE (AUS) 110,153

18 David BRANSDON (AUS) 108,005

19 Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) 105,748

20 WANG Ter-chang (TPE) 104,446

October 31, 2005


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