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Thaworn Wirchant leads Asian challenge in Indonesia

Asian number one Thaworn Wiratchant is relishing the prospect of defending his Indonesian Open title at the Emeralda Golf and Country Club in Jakarta this week.

Thaworn's five-shot triumph at the Cengkareng Golf Club almost a year ago was his first on the European Tour and provided the launch pad for a record-breaking season.

The 39-year-old from Thailand had four victories on his home circuit and topped the Asian Tour's order of merit with earnings of $510,122.

"Winning the Indonesian Open last year was the highlight of my career so far," said Thaworn. "It was always my ambition to win a European Tour event.

"I have great memories of playing in Jakarta and I am delighted to be returning to defend my title. It will be a strong field but I will give it my best," he told the European Tour's official website.

Joining Thaworn at the $1 million tournament will be fellow Thai Thongchai Jaidee, who won the Malaysian Open in 2004 and 2005, and Chinese trailblazer Zhang Lian Wei.

Zhang, 40, has registered five Asian Tour wins and made history two years ago when he became the first Chinese player to be invited to compete at the U.S. Masters in Augusta.

The European challenge is spearheaded by Briton Stephen Dodd, Anders Hansen of Denmark and Spain's Ignacio Garrido.

Dodd won two individual events last season, the China and Irish Opens, and captured the World Cup title for Wales alongside team mate Bradley Dredge.

Hansen has had three consistent campaigns since lifting the PGA Championship trophy at Wentworth in 2002.

Garrido is a former Ryder Cup player and won the PGA Championship three years ago.

The tournament is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.



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