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Thongchai has double target at Volvo Masters

Thai star Thongchai Jaidee has taken the final battle to home ground as he bids to defend his prestigious Asian Tour Order of Merit title at the season-ending Volvo Masters of Asia this week.

Thongchai, last year's Order of Merit winner, finished tied seventh in the UBS Hong Kong Open on Sunday and narrowed the gap on merit leader and compatriot Thaworn Wiratchant to US$53,530.

With US$600,000 on offer at the Volvo Masters of Asia to be staged at Thai Country Club this week, Thongchai and Thaworn are the only players who can win the Order of Merit title.

The odds are staked against Thongchai as he cannot finish lower than second place if he is to retain his mantle as Asia 's top player.

A top cheque of US$108,000 is available for this week's winner while second place is worth US$69,000. If Thongchai produces a win, Thaworn must finish second to win his first ever merit title.

Should Thongchai comes in second, Thaworn, who was a lowly 48th in Hong Kong, needs to finish no lower than seventh place on his own to end his terrific season which already includes four titles.

Thongchai, who was also Asia 's number one in 2001, is targeting a home victory after finishing in the top-10 in his last two events.

"My game is very good now, I'm hitting my driver and iron well but just not making enough of putts. However, I'm quite happy with what I achieved in Hong Kong . I'll try to catch Thaworn in the Volvo Masters of Asia and it will be my intention to try and win the event and hopefully, the Order of Merit title as well," added Thongchai, who was the 2003 Volvo Masters of Asia winner.

The odds look to be in Thaworn's favour although he failed to make an impression in the last two weeks. He is also wary of the award-winning Thai Country Club course which has been toughened up ahead of this week's Asian Tour's season-finale.

"I understand the course will be tough with the rough being up for the Volvo Masters of Asia," said Thaworn, who has earned a record US$502,265 in prize money this season. Thaworn has enjoyed a terrific season with four titles in Indonesia , Chinese Taipei, India and Vietnam but is still waiting to win his first Asian Tour title on home soil.

India 's Jyoti Randhawa, the title holder of the Volvo Masters of Asia, was the other player who had a mathematical chance of winning the Order of Merit title but a tied 48th finish last weekend dashed any hopes of a late bid.

The Asian Tour also welcomed its latest member to its million dollar club when Thammanoon Srirot of Thailand finished tied second last weekend. He earned US$72,266 and took his career earnings to US$1,014,070 and became the eighth player to hit seven figures in total earnings.

The Volvo Masters of Asia is exclusive the top-60 players on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and will begin on Thursday.

Ends


ASIAN TOUR ORDER OF MERIT - TOP 20

Pos Player Order of Merit

1. Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 502,265

2. Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 448,735

3. Jyoti RANDHAWA ( IND ) 260,835

4. Terry PILKADARIS (AUS) 225,369

5. James KINGSTON (RSA) 202,812

6. Andrew BUCKLE (AUS) 202,163

7. Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) 175,318

8. Scott BARR (AUS) 169,758

9. Ted OH (KOR) 163,958

10. Edward LOAR ( USA ) 159,152

11. Marcus BOTH (AUS) 156,607

12. Thammanoon SRIROT (THA) 156,285

13. LU Wen-teh (TPE) 156,115

14. Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 149,709

15. Scott STRANGE (AUS) 144,538

16. Simon YATES (SCO) 144,110

17. LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 135,348

18. Shiv KAPUR ( IND ) 134,101

19. Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 131,310

20. Jeev Milkha SINGH ( IND ) 131,148

December 5, 2005

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