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Top field formed for Volvo Masters of Asia

This year's Volvo Masters of Asia will feature an outstanding array of talent following finalisation of the field entry criteria by organisers for what is the Asian Tour's season-ending Tour Championship.

The US$600,000 showpiece event, which will be played at Thai Country Club from December 8 to 11, will see the top-60 players from the Asian Tour Order of Merit, and also two amateur golfers from Thailand plus one Malaysian amateur.

In keeping with the precedent set last year only the top-60 players will be eligible, meaning that should a player not be able to make the trip to Thailand his place will not be filled by a golfer ranked outside the top 60.

The top-60 players from the Asian Tour Order of Merit following the penultimate event of the year, the Hong Kong Open, will gain entrance into the following week's Volvo Masters of Asia.

"The Volvo Masters of Asia features an elite field of players, tournament winners from the year and golfers who have played consistently well across the season. They are the cream of the Asian Tour and over what is one of the region's finest courses at Thai Country Club, we can expect to see some exceptional golf," said Mel Pyatt, President and Chief Executive Officer, Volvo Event Management.

India's Jyoti Randhawa will attempt to successfully defend the title he won last year in Malaysia and will be joined by leading players from across the region including Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant, who won the Taiwan Open at the weekend to move into top position on the Asian Tour Order of Merit list.

Thailand 's Thongchai Jaidee, currently second on the Merit list, will also bid to win the title he won in 2003 on home soil.

"Once again we are delighted that three amateurs will be playing. Volvo have always placed a premium on assisting the development of golf in Asia and by inviting three amateurs we will possibly help pave the way for some stars of the future," added Pyatt.

Last year leading Malaysian amateur S. Sivachandran upstaged his professional counterparts by finishing joint 41 st while young Thai amateurs Norachet Juntapun and Panuwat Meunlek came home in 55 th and 56 th position respectively.

It was announced earlier this year that the Volvo Masters of Asia will be held at Thai Country Club for the next three years - a move which has been welcomed by Volvo Thailand .

"Volvo Car of Thailand could not be more delighted that the Volvo Masters of Asia is to be held in Thailand for the next three years. The staging of such a prestigious event in our country is good news for many reasons, not least of which will be marvellous publicity and quality associations that our sponsorship of the tournament will bring.

That said of course it goes much wider than that. Such a prestigious event, involving just the top 60 players in Asia will, I am sure, help to publicise Thailand as a great golfing destination as well as encouraging more and more people to take up the game," said Robert Norrman, President of Volvo Car Thailand .

Added Jirawattanaek Peerapat - General Sales Manager, (Region Thailand and Indo-China) Volvo Truck & Bus Thailand: "To have the Volvo brand linked to such an event through television, newspaper and magazine coverage creates substantial awareness and interest, but for a sales company like Volvo Truck, the real benefit is how we are able to use the Volvo Masters of Asia in our customer relationship marketing. Establishing and nurturing personal relationships is a critical factor in today's business philosophy and an event such as the Volvo Masters of Asia allows us to offer our major customers something of a unique experience in a controlled Volvo environment."

The Volvo Masters of Asia was launched in 2002, when Volvo took the farsighted decision to create a season-ending Tour Championship on the Asian Tour.

" As our season-ending event, the Volvo Masters of Asia will undoubtedly be the pinnacle of what is shaping into a glorious season for the Asian Tour. Players will not only vie for the prestigious Volvo title which comes with an invitation to the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational next year but also compete for the Order of Merit crown," said Louis Martin, Chief Executive, Asian Tour.

" We have no doubt that golf fans in Thailand and television viewers from across the region will enjoy a truly spectacular week of golf. I would like to extend our full appreciation to Volvo for putting up this showpiece event on the Asian Tour," added Martin.

Volvo staged the very successful Volvo Masters of Malaysia from 1994 to 2001 before deciding to upgrade the event after realizing the region would benefit greatly from having its own Tour Championship.

The prize money was doubled in 2002 so that it reached the half million US $ mark. In a memorable inaugural Volvo Masters of Asia at Kota Permai Golf & Country Club in Malaysia rising Korean star Kevin Na claimed the title at the tender age of 18.

The following year Thongchai marched to victory at Bangkok Golf Club while Randhawa triumphed last year when the tournament returned to Kota Permai.

Signifying their commitment to Asian golf, Volvo have generously increased the overall purse this year by US$50,000 to US$600,000.

Volvo have been in the vanguard of golf in Europe for a generation and in Asia for over a decade. With professional golf continuing to boom in Asia, Volvo are delighted to be one of the driving forces behind its success by sponsoring the Volvo Masters of Asia in addition to the Volvo China Open - an event joint-sanctioned with The European Tour.

Over US$2million dollars in prize money alone is being invested by the Volvo brand in Asia each year for the next three years, a clear and unambiguous commitment and a massive vote of confidence in Asian golf.


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