Sunday June 10, 2012
Star cast in Samui
A WONDERFUL line-up of champions, including six players from the top-10 of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, will ensure that next week’s Queen’s Cup on the holiday isle of Samui will enjoy one of its strongest ever fields.
No fewer than 34 Tour champions, led by current Asian Tour number one Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines, will tee up at the challenging Santiburi Samui Country Club where Thai star Chawalit Plaphol will defend his title.
Local favourite Prom Meesawat, fourth on the Merit list, will be the highest ranked player in the popular tournament from June 14-17, which has also attracted Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand (fifth), Australian Scott Hend (sixth), India’s Anirban Lahiri (seventh), Bangladeshi Siddikur (eighth) and big-hitting Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat (ninth). “Two good weeks in India have made my game a lot easier for the rest of the year. The work that I’ve put in with my sports psychologist has helped a lot. Mentally, I’ve got stronger,” said the 26-year-old Prom.
“I also started working again with my old coach from my junior days. He has not changed anything but is just refining my game. I just need to keep improving to the next level.”
In addition to the top-10 players, Singaporean veteran star Mardan Mamat and Kieran Pratt of Australia, who won the ICTSI Philippine Open and Zaykabar Myanmar Open respectively earlier this year, will also head to the famous holiday destination for the US$300,000 Asian Tour event.
Lahiri and Mardan will be using the Queen’s Cup to build-up towards their appearances in the British Open, the year’s third Major, at Royal Lytham and St Annes next month.
“I’m beginning to find my game again. I lost it in the second half of last year. I got a little muddled in the head. I got more clarity now and if I can focus, hopefully I can get into contention more often,” said Lahiri.
Other top names who are expected to challenge for Chawalit’s crown include local stars Prayad Marksaeng, who has come close to winning in Samui on several occasions, Chapchai Nirat and 2009 Queen’s Cup champion Chinnarat Phadungsil, who is also the youngest ever winner on the Asian Tour following his first win in 2006 while still an amateur.
Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wei-chih, who enjoyed two wins last season, is also tipped to contend with his straight-hitting game being a fit to the supremely challenging Samui course, which is nicknamed “Beast of Samui” due to its difficulty.
Thai legend Boonchu Ruangkit has also accepted a sponsor’s invitation to compete in the 11th leg of this season’s Asian Tour Schedule.
The 56-year-old won the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit crown in 2010 after a magical season which included four wins while last year, he also won once in Europe. – Asian Tour