February 2013 | Asian Tour

Siddikur Aims for Open Championship History


Chonburi, Thailand, February 28: Siddikur is on track of making history when he shared the opening round lead with Japanese amateur Hideki Matsuyama on six-under-par 66 at the Open Championship International Final Qualifying – Asia on Thursday.
The Bangladeshi got off to a hot start where he was five-under after six holes to maintain his bid to become the first player to represent his country in the Open Championship.
China’s Hu Mu, Australian Scott Barr and Singaporeans Quincy Quek and Lam Zhiqun were a further shot back in the two-day qualifier where the top-four players qualify for the year’s third Major at Muirfield in July.
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Siddikur, who is the first Bangladeshi to play and win on the Asian Tour, was in a similar position in the 2011 IFQ-Asia but he was disqualified on the last day when he failed to write a score for the last hole. He insists he will not repeat the same mistake again.
“There are no excuses for me (two years ago). I just didn’t play well after shooting a 66 on the first day. I was so excited but unfortunately I couldn’t keep up. My score would have been three-over if I wasn’t disqualified,” said Siddikur.
With a hot putter in tow, Siddikur traded seven birdies and one bogey to lead the way with the talented Matsuyama, who is a two-time Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship winner and the first Japanese amateur to play in the 2011 Masters Tournament.
“I’m very confident and my game is good. If I can play my game, I’m quite confident I’ll be able to qualify for the Open Championship,” said Siddikur.
Matsuyama hopes to make amends for last year’s heartbreak when he dropped six shots in the last three holes to miss the play-off for the fourth and final ticket to the Open Championship by two shots.
“I’ve forgotten about that and have already moved on. I’m looking forward to the last day and if I can keep playing like how I did, then I’ll be able to earn a place in the Open Championship,” said Matsuyama.
Singapore’s Quek, who is aiming to become the third Singaporean after Mardan Mamat and Lam Chih Bing to play in the Open Championship, was in the lead for 17 holes but hit his tee shot into the water on nine for a double bogey.
“I’m happy to be on five-under with a double bogey! In two-day events, you have to make as many birdies as you can. I guess my focus tomorrow is to enjoy the round and put in a low number,” said the 26-year-old.
Australian Barr mixed his round with eight birdies and one eagle against a double bogey and three bogeys as he plots a return to the Open Championship where he made his debut at the Royal Troon Golf Club in 2004.
“I started to hit the ball pretty well at the start and putted pretty good. I just had a couple of soft mistakes. This is a golf course where you can get in big trouble without doing many mistakes. Overall I’m happy but I hope to hold it together,” said Barr.
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Scores after round 1 of the IFQ Asia 2013 being played at the par 72, 7419 Yards Amata Spring CC course (a- denotes amateur):
66 – SIDDIKUR (BAN), Hideki MATSUYAMA (am, JPN).
67 – HU Mu (CHN), Quincy QUEK (SIN), LAM Zhiqun (SIN), Scott BARR (AUS).
68 – Prayad MARKSAENG (THA), Anthony KANG (USA), Berry HENSON (USA), KIM Hyung-sung (KOR), PAN Cheng-tsung (am, TPE), WU Ashun (CHN), Rory HIE (INA), Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA).
69 – Kalle SAMOOJA (FIN), Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA), Scott HEND (AUS), Hiroshi IWATA (JPN), Yuta IKEDA (JPN).
70 – Stephen LEWTON (ENG), Nils FLOREN (SWE), Kwanchai TANNIN (THA), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), James BYRNE (SCO), Jaakko MAKITALO (FIN).
71 – Darren BECK (AUS), PARK Ju-hyuk (KOR), JOO Heung-chol (KOR), Gunn CHAROENKUL (THA), LAM Chih Bing (SIN), Niall TURNER (IRL), Daisuke MARUYAMA (JPN), Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA), Tomohiro KONDO (JPN), Javi COLOMO (ESP).
72 – Kodai ICHIHARA (JPN), Miguel TABUENA (PHI), BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR), Jonathan MOORE (USA), Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA), Ben FOX (USA), Grant JACKSON (ENG), Yosuke ASAJI (JPN).
Further information:
The R&A – Communications
+44 (0) 1334 460000
[email protected]
Doyle Decosta, Media Officer, the Asian Tour
+012 699 1976
[email protected]
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Canon (Official Imaging Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf


SIDDIKUR (BAN) – FIRST ROUND 66 (-6)
I’m very happy. I played very well in the beginning. I got seven birdies with one bogey so I’m really happy with the round. I’m very confident and my game is good. If I can play my game, I’m quite confident I’ll be able to qualify for the Open Championship.
There are no excuses for me (two years ago). I just didn’t play well after shooting a 66 on the first day. I was so excited but unfortunately I couldn’t play well in the next day. I won’t repeat the same mistakes and I’m looking forward to it.
I didn’t put my score on the last hole so I was disqualified. I was actually three-over-par for the day.
QUINCY QUEK (SIN) – FIRST ROUND 67 (-5)
I got myself into a good position. I was three-under after four holes. I was hitting it good and giving myself chances. It got a bit windy on the back nine but other than the double bogey on the last, my round is pretty solid. I’m happy to be five-under with a double bogey!
In two-day events, you have to make as many birdies as you can. I just want to enjoy my round out there on this magnificent course. I’m up there and there’s a shot to be in the top-four. I guess my focus tomorrow is to enjoy the round and put in a low number.
I snapped my tee shot on the ninth hole. It was a funny swing and my ball landed in the water. Other than that, the rest of the day has been quite solid. I’m happy with the way I’m playing.
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LAM ZHIQUN (SIN) – FIRST ROUND 67 (-5)
I’m not complaining with a five-under. I played pretty solid. I missed a few greens but managed to get up-and-downs. You have to pretty much go out there and shoot your lights out because it is a two-day qualifier. This is the lowest score I’ve shot on this golf course. Mardan (Mamat) and Lam (Chih Bing) told me about their experiences of playing in The Open. It will be good if I have memories of my own.
HU MU (CHN) – FIRST ROUND 67 (-5)
I played really well. It is a long and tough course. The condition of the golf course is very nice. I was in good form in Myanmar (Zaykabar Myanmar Open) but my score wasn’t good. Today my score was good except for the little blemish on the last hole, otherwise it would have been a really good round. I’m not thinking too far ahead.
SCOTT BARR (AUS) – FIRST ROUND 67 (-5)
I played pretty well with eight birdies and one eagle. This is a sort of golf course which you can into trouble and you can get severely punished. I’m happy and hopefully I can hold it together. I holed a nine iron on the fifth which was a good shot. It was about 123 yards into the wind, one bounce and boom it was inside the hole. I started to hit the ball pretty well at the start and putted pretty good. I just had a couple of soft mistakes. You can get in big trouble without doing much mistakes here.
PAN CHENG-TSUNG (TPE) – FIRST ROUND 68 (-4)
My game was fine. I drive the ball good and found pretty much every fairway. I put myself in position of making birdies. I played here at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last year and finished second here.
Yes, I’m feeling the pressure because this qualifier is tough and competitive. You might miss by one-shot and that just adds to the pressure. I played in the US Open two years ago.


Chonburi, Thailand, February 27: Thai rising star Arnond Vongvanij is eager to join countryman Thaworn Wiratchant and Thongchai Jaidee at the 2013 Open Championship in July as he aims to claim one of the four tickets available at the International Final Qualifying – Asia starting Thursday.
The pint-sized Arnond missed out by one shot to join in the play-off for the final berth last year and hopes to make amends in the two-day qualifying played at the immaculate Amata Spring Country Club, which is also his home course.
Among other hopefuls vying to play in the year’s third Major at Muirfield from July 18 to 21 include Indians Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri, who won last year’s qualifier, Prom Meesawat and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, Siddikur of Bangladesh and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines.
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Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang, winner of the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at the Amata Spring, will also feature in the qualifier with Wu Ashun and compatriot Hu Mu.
Masanori Kobayashi, who finished fourth on the 2012 Asian Tour Order of Merit, is part of a strong Japanese contingent which include two-time Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion, Hideki Matsuyama, who became the first Japanese amateur to play in the Masters Tournament in 2011, Kodai Ichihara, who qualified for the IFQ-Asia last year and Yuta Ikeda, who last played in The Open in 2011.
Thaworn qualified for The Open Championship courtesy of winning the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2012 while Thongchai Jaidee qualified by finishing in the top 30 in last year’s Race to Dubai.
Arnond’s career has been on the rise since joining the Asian Tour last year. In his rookie season, he claimed four top-10s including one win at the King’s Cup on home soil. He hopes to add a Major appearance to his fledging career but is wary of the strong challengers in the 78-man field.
“It is always exciting to get the chance to qualify for the Open Championship. I’m going to go in the qualifier with a thought that I got nothing to lose. I’m going to try and play well and have fun,” said the 24-year-old.
“It would be an honour to play in The Open Championship because it is the oldest Major Championship in the world. The qualifier is only two rounds so that makes things a lot harder than a four-round tournament,” said Arnond.
Siddikur is the man of many firsts. He was the first player from his country to play and win on the Asian Tour and he is now eyeing to be the first Bangladeshi to roam the fairways at The Open Championship.
“If I do qualify, the popularity of golf in Bangladesh will go to an even higher standard. The Amata Spring course is quite long but I’ve shot a low number there before. I’m quite confident of making it this time,” said Siddikur.
Lahiri is determined to make a swift return to the Open Championship after making his debut last season where he finished tied 31st highlighted by a third round ace.
“I think it was a breakthrough debut for me to finish as the top Asian in the Open Championship last year. Playing with the best in the game and finishing ahead of a lot of big names gave me tremendous confidence in my ability. I also gained valuable experience of playing in severe conditions on links golf courses, something that’s not common in Asia,” said the Indian.
Filipino Tabuena, 18, hopes to make a successful debut at the IFQ-Asia, where he is among a talented young cast of hopefuls vying to etch their names among the stars of golf.
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“I know it is not a course for me because it is long but anything can happen. How would an 18 year old feel if I qualify? It would mean the world to me because it will be my first Major,” said Tabuena.
Having qualified for the Masters Tournament in April, Chinese prodigy Guan is eyeing for a second Major appearance in his budding career.
“I have played at some professional golf tournaments before and it is always great to play with the professional golfers. I can learn so much from them and the experience of playing at the professional events. So I am looking forward to the IFQ-Asia,” said Guan.
He gained worldwide coverage when he won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last year to become the youngest player to play in the Masters Tournament. Despite the limelight, his feet remain firmly grounded.
“I still live a normal life – go to school, practice golf and spend time with family and friends. But of course, more and more people know me and lots of media are interested in me. I am grateful for all the changes. With the increasing attention and support, I am getting more confident with myself as well as accomplishing my dream in future one day,” said Guan.
Further information:
The R&A – Communications
+44 (0) 1334 460000
[email protected]
Doyle Decosta, Media Officer, the Asian Tour
+012 699 1976
[email protected]
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf


Singapore, February 27: Canon, the global leader in photographic and digital imaging solutions, will become the Official Imaging Partner of the Asian Tour following the signing of a three-year agreement until the end of 2015.
Through this new and exciting partnership which was announced today, Canon will enjoy various benefits on the region’s elite circuit including the creation of the Canon Power Play segment on the Asian Tour Golf Show.
Canon will also enjoy multiple opportunities to leverage its brand across the Asian Tour’s worldwide media platforms that include its official website, www.asiantour.com and a global television platform which reaches over 200 countries and 650 million households.
The partnership will also allow Canon to increase its brand visibility through on-site branding and activities at Asian Tour events. The Asian Tour will celebrate its milestone 10th season in 2013 following its launch as a player-organisation in 2004.
Kensaku Konishi, President & CEO, Canon South & South East Asia, was delighted to forge a partnership and align Canon’s brand values with the Asian Tour. Based in Singapore, where Canon’s regional headquarter for South and Southeast Asia region is located, Mr Konishi is responsible for leading and overseeing the operations in the fast growing region which spans 18 countries, including the domestic market.
“At Canon, we live and breathe our corporate philosophy of kyosei, which means to live and work together for the common good. The spirit of uniting athletes, spectators and photographers to share in the joy of sports together has resulted in Canon being active patrons of the sporting community and partners with organisations such as the Canon Lion City Cup and SingaporeBowling,” said Mr Konishi.
“Our partnership with Asian Tour has provided us the opportunity to help in the promotion of golf whose popularity is increasing in emerging countries like India, Indonesia and Myanmar. We feel that it is good for golf enthusiasts in these countries where the Asian Tour takes place, to experience the sport at its highest level. At the same time, we are happy to be able to leverage our brand across the Tour’s media platforms to reach out to our customers and partners in the same region.”
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han said the partnership with Canon was another strong endorsement towards the cosmopolitan appeal of the Asian Tour.
He also expressed his gratitude to Canon for their support, saying it reinforces the extensive backing of Corporate Asia towards professional golf at the highest level in Asia.
“On behalf of our talented players, we are delighted to welcome Canon on board as our newest Tour Partner. The Asian Tour has established itself as one of the elite professional Tours in the world after the PGA Tour and European Tour and this is made possible through the tremendous support of great sponsors such as Canon,” said Han.
“We are looking forward to working very closely with Canon to further promote the game across Asia. Through the exciting Canon Power Play segment which will highlight the best action from our tournaments, it will create another memorable viewing experience for our global television audience and showcase the best action from our tournaments.”
With this partnership, Canon joins the Asian Tour’s stable of Tour partners who include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper).
Ends.
About Canon Singapore Pte Ltd
Canon is a global leader in photographic and digital imaging solutions. Canon Singapore Pte Ltd is the headquarters for South & Southeast Asia driving sales, marketing and service strategies. Besides handling the domestic market, the company leads 18 other countries including subsidiaries in India, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The parent company Canon Inc has a global network of close to 300 companies and employs close to 200,000 people worldwide. It is dedicated to the advancement in technology and innovation and commits about 10% of its total revenue each year to R&D. Canon is consistently one of the top few companies to earn the most number of patents over the last 19 years. As a Fortune Global 500 company, Canon is guided by its kyosei philosophy that focuses on living and working together for the common good. More information is available at www.canon.com.sg
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Golf Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Canon (Official Imaging Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com , www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf , www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf , www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf
For Additional Media Enquiries
Canon Singapore Pte Ltd
Ryann Tan
Tel: 6796 3125 (O) / HP: 9796 5192
Email: [email protected]
Ogilvy Public Relations
Mark Koh
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Asian Tour
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New Delhi, February 27: India’s rising stars Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri will be targeting a home victory when they make their 2013 Asian Tour debuts at the US$300,000 SAIL-SBI Open next week.
The talented duo enjoyed memorable seasons last year with Bhullar securing two victories at the Venetian Macau Open and Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Taipei en route to finishing a career high fifth on the Order of Merit while Lahiri won the SAIL-SBI Open and also produced an outstanding Major debut at the British Open where he tied for 31st place.
Lahiri, 25, hopes that time spent working on his putting and short game will produce the birdies when he defends his title at the venerable Delhi Golf Club from March 6-9 in what is the second tournament of the new Asian Tour season.
“I have had a good relaxing off-season. I worked especially hard on my putting and short game. I feel that it will help improve my scoring this season and get me into contention more consistently,” said Lahiri, who defeated Prom Meesawat of Thailand in a play-off for his triumph last year.
Lahiri is in a hurry to get his season off on a strong note as he is aiming to break into the world’s top-100 in 2013, the year which will see the Asian Tour celebrate its milestone 10th season.
“I would definitely want to get off to a good start with a win early in the season, like the last couple of years,” he said.
“I think as the Olympics approaches, all eyes will be on the world rankings. The Indians are doing well globally so I would definitely like to break into the top 100. I’ll then look to kick on from there. Obviously it would mean playing solidly in the bigger events,” added Lahiri, who is currently ranked 224th in the world.
Big-hitting Bhullar, a year younger than his close friend Lahiri, has already accumulated four career victories on the Asian Tour but has surprisingly not won in front of his fans.
He finished tied sixth in the SAIL-SBI Open and equal second in the Panasonic Open India last year at the Delhi Golf Club, results which will give him the confidence when he steps into his first tournament next week.
Bhullar hopes last season’s success will be the springboard to more victories in 2013. “It was a great season. I had a couple of top-10s, top-fives and two victories. There’re still a lot to learn but I have a lot of positives from last season,” he said.
He was especially pleased with his mental strength throughout 2012. “I’ve been trying to stay patient for a long time and I think I handled it well. Patience will definitely help me over the years,” he said.
The SAIL-SBI Open will be celebrating its sixth edition next week where it is one of four Asian Tour events which feature prominently in India.
Other leading Indians who will compete in the SAIL-SBI Open include C. Muniyappa, Himmat Rai, Digvijay Singh, Shiv Kapur and Jyoti Randhawa, all winners on the Asian Tour.
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Canon (Official Imaging Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf


Kuala Lumpur, February 27: M. Sasidaran, Kemarol Baharin, Mohd Hanafiah Mohd Jamil and P. Gunasegaran have qualified for the US$2.75 million Maybank Malaysian Open next month.
Sasidaran, Kemarol, Mohd Hanafiah and Gunasegaran, who lost in a play-off in the 1994 Malaysian Open, totalled 142, 144, 146 and 146 respectively to qualify for the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour from March 21 to 24.
The quartet join Maybank ambassadors Danny Chia and Shaaban Hussin and Akhmal Tarmizee, Nicholas Fung, Sukree Othman, R. Nachimuthu, Airil Rizman, Rashid Ismail, S. Murthy, S. Siva Chandhran, Azman Basharuddin and Kenneth De Silva.
Sasidaran, who won the qualifier said, “Maybank Malaysian Open is a great avenue to gain experience. I have had good memories at the event, Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club is a favourite course of mine. It’s important for me to maintain my confidence so that I can give my best performance.”
President of the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) Admiral (R) Tan Sri Dato’ Setia Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor congratulated the winners and said, “The Maybank Malaysian Open is the avenue for our local professionals to gather the experience and skills to go further in their career. I am positive that these winners will make full use of this invaluable opportunity”.
Chief Marketing Officer of Maybank Mohamed Adam praised all the participants for their outstanding game and said “during this 2-day event, we have seen many talents waiting to emerge and represent Malaysia in the international arena. The enthusiasm and commitment shown by these golfers is a positive sign that the effort Maybank has put in towards golf development in Malaysia since 2006 is bearing fruit”.


Chiangmai, Thailand, February 26: Japanese stars Tetsuji Hiratsuka, Kenichi Kuboya and last season’s Asian Tour Rookie of the Year Masanori Kobayashi have signed up for the inaugural US$750,000 Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT next month.
The talented trio will join Asian history-maker Y.E. Yang of Korea and Thai legend Thongchai Jaidee in the Asian Tour’s newest tournament which will be held at the impressive Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai from March 28 to 31, 2013.
The Chiangmai Golf Classic is supported by PTT Group Company Limited, one of the largest corporations in Thailand, while other premier sponsors include PTT Public Company Ltd, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Advanced Info Service Plc, Siam Commercial Bank PCL, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Provincial Government of Chiangmai, Chiangmai Provincial Administrative Organisation, CAT Telecom Public Company Ltd, TOT Public Company Ltd, Thai Airways International Public Company Ltd, Thai Beverage Public Company Limited, Samart I-mobile PCL , Loxley Wireless Co Ltd, Forth Corporation Public Company Ltd, J.R.W Utility Plc, Standard Tour Co Ltd, Advanced Information Technology Public Company Ltd, Fenix Apparel and Accessories Co Ltd and Sports Authority of Thailand.
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The 41-year-old Hiratsuka, who is a six-time winner in Japan, is one of the most successful Japanese players on the Asian Tour, which will be celebrating its 10th season throughout 2013. After earning his Tour card from Qualifying School in 2009, the powerful Japanese ace went on to win three tournaments in 2010 to finish third on the Order of Merit and subsequently claimed a fourth title on the region’s premier Tour in 2011.
A neck injury slowed down his charge last season but Hiratsuka is all geared up for another successful campaign ahead and will be targeting the Chiangmai Golf Classic, which is a full-field Asian Tour tournament, as his two wins in Asia were achieved at the Queen’s Cup and Black Mountain Masters in Thailand three years ago.
“I’m very comfortable playing in Thailand and I’m looking forward to the Chiangmai Golf Classic. I was struggling with a neck injury last year but it has become a lot better now, so I hope to start playing well again in 2013,” said Hiratsuka, who finished 96th on the rankings last season.
Kobayashi produced a memorable rookie season on the Asian Tour. After earning his card from Qualifying School, he won the Asia Pacific Panasonic Open, jointly sanctioned with the Japan Golf Tour, on home soil and added two other top-10s to finish fourth on the Order of Merit.
He signed up for the Asian Tour after watching Hiratsuka achieve success in the region and is now looking forward to adding a second career title at the Chiangmai Golf Classic.
“I’ve enjoyed travelling to different countries in Asia last year. I’ve learned a lot, especially playing with the top players which was very good experience for me,” said Kobayashi.
“My goal this season is to win one title on the Asian Tour and another title in Japan. I’m looking forward to visiting Chiangmai for the first time.”
Kuboya holds six Tour victories in Japan, enjoying his biggest career victory when he triumphed in the Japan Open last season. The 40-year-old has also plied his trade on the Asian Tour in the past few seasons.
The Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT is primed to extensively promote Chiangmai, which is located in northern Thailand, as a top golfing and tourist destination through the four days of live broadcasts on the Asian Tour’s global television platform, which reaches over 200 countries and 650 million homes.
The Chiangmai Golf Classic will be a 72-hole strokeplay tournament showcasing 144 players with the leading 99 Asian Tour players featuring in the elite field alongside 10 players from the top-200 of the Official World Golf Ranking, 20 players from Thailand and 15 sponsor’s invitations.
The Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai, designed by Ron M. Garl, is located in a valley between mountain ranges in the heart of the San Kampaeng natural forests and boasts of natural beauty.
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf
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IMG Worldwide is a global sports, fashion and media business, with nearly 3,000 employees operating in more than 30 countries around the globe. IMG’s areas of expertise are diverse and wide ranging: IMG College; IMG’s Joint Ventures in India, China, Brazil and Turkey; IMG Media; IMG Events and Federations; IMG Fashion; IMG Models; IMG Art+Commerce; IMG Clients; IMG Academy; IMG Consulting and IMG Licensing. More information is available at www.imgworld.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


New Delhi, February 26: Colin Montgomerie, the most prolific British winner in European Tour history, will make his first appearance in the Avantha Masters when the €1.8million event takes place from March 14-17.
The Scot, who captained Europe to Ryder Cup glory in 2010, has won 31 European Tour titles – two of them in Asia – in an illustrious career, and will now hope to add to his impressive tally when the fourth edition of the Avantha Masters is held at a new venue, Jaypee Greens Golf Course, Greater Noida, India.
Montgomerie’s title ambitions at the Avantha Masters, which is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), will be put to test by a stellar field that includes Three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, Singapore’s Mardan Mamat, a three-time Asian Tour winner and Australia’s Scott Hend.
The local charge will be spearheaded by Jeev Milkha Singh, Asia’s number one in 2006 and 2008 as well as Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar who have a combined total of six Asian Tour victories.
Montgomerie said: “India is unquestionably one of the world’s biggest growth areas for golf, so I’m really looking forward to teeing up in the Avantha Masters. Having recently added a project in Goa to my golf course design portfolio, I hope to play my part in the development of the game in India.
“Whenever I have visited this fascinating country in the past, I have always found the people to be both very friendly and enthusiastic about golf. Hopefully the crowds will come along to support the tournament, and show that golf in India is enjoying a real popularity boom.”
Montgomerie is the latest in a long line of European Tour champions to confirm their attendance in the Avantha Masters.
The eight-time winner of Europe’s Money List will be joined in New Delhi by England’s Simon Dyson, Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen and Frenchman Thomas Levet, who between them have captured a total of 15 European Tour titles.
Padamjit Singh Sandhu, Director of the PGTI, said: “The presence of a legend like Colin Montgomerie is an affirmation that Indian golf is going in the right direction. The Avantha Masters has established itself as a premium event on The European Tour International Schedule, and the new dates have enabled leading players to add the tournament to their schedules.
“I am sure more big names will confirm in the next few days. We are looking forward to one of the strongest fields ever assembled for a tournament in India, and that should provide for a great week of golf.”
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf


Kuala Lumpur, February 26: Malaysia’s Kemarol Baharin led the way on the first day of the Maybank Malaysian Open – National Qualifier, shooting a two-under-par 70 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club on Tuesday.
A total of 51 Malaysian players are fighting for four coveted spots at the Maybank Malaysian Open, which will be held next month.
M. Sasidaran shot a 71 while Mohd Hanafiah Mohd Jamil carded a 73 to stay in the chase for a top-four finish.
The 37-year-old Sasidaran is no stranger to the Maybank Malaysian Open as he has taken part in the prestigious event several times, either by automatic entry or through the National Qualifier.
Those who qualified will join Danny Chia, a Maybank Golf Ambassador, who automatically qualified based on his impressive Asian Tour Order of Merit ranking. Other professionals who have been given direct entry under Maybank’s nominates are Maybank Golf Ambassador Shaaban Hussin, 2012 Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) – Maybank Tour Players Champion Akhmal Tarmizee and GlobalOne’s nominated golfers Md Rashid Ismail, S. Murthy, S. Sivachandhran, Azman Basharuddin and Kenneth De Silva.
Winning the coveted slot in the Maybank Malaysian Open would also grant the golfers the valuable experience of playing in a tournament with Luke Donald who is making his debut, former Masters Tournament champion Charl Schwartzel, 2011 champion Matteo Manassero and three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington.


Singapore, February 25: Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera is confident that his second-placed finish at the Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Alpine last week will serve as a barometer of his performance for the season.
The Sri Lankan got his 2013 Asian Tour season off to a flying start when he secured his best-ever result by finishing second, a single shot behind winner Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand.
It could even have been a historical feat for Mithun had Chawalit not birdied his last two holes to win his fourth Asian Tour title at the Royal Mingalardon Golf and Country Club.
Mithun would then become the first Sri Lankan to win on the Asian Tour at the US$300,000 event, which is the curtain raiser for the 10th Asian Tour season.
“All you need is one good week to turn your life around. I feel my time is coming soon. I try my best in every tournament and I think the win is not far away,” said Mithun.
“I’m sure my father and my country are proud of me. This week, I flew the Sri Lankan flag high. There’s no disappointment for me,” added the 26-year-old.
After finishing 50th on the Order of Merit to earn his Tour card for this season, Mithun, who is the son to Nandasena, a famous name on the old Asian circuit during the 1980s and 1990s, has raised the bar higher for himself this season.
“I feel that I’ve grown a lot since last year. I have good and accurate tee shots. My putter is good as well. I do lack in distance off the tees but the win will come,” said Mithun.
With the Asian Tour heading to India for the SBI-SAIL Open next week, the Sri Lankan is looking forward to reignite his title hopes.
“I have a chance to win on the shorter courses like the Delhi Golf Club. My accuracy is the highlight of my game. All I need now is a bit of luck,” said Mithun.
Chawalit, who leads the Order of Merit, courtesy of his win in Myanmar, is targeting a top-10 finish at the end of the season.
“I can play without much pressure now but I’ll aim to finish inside the top-10 of the Order of Merit. My game is on track. I just need to work on my iron for the rest of the year,” said the Thai.
Singapore’s Quincy Quek, meanwhile credited his ‘never-say-die’ attitude for propelling him to seventh place on the rankings after enjoying his best result since turning professional in 2009.
“I was six shots back before the round. When I won my first Asian Development Tour (ADT) event I was six shots back as well. But I told myself that I’ll take whatever that comes my way,” said the Singaporean, who finished tied-seventh at the Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Alpine.
“The guys ahead of me are all really good players and have won before. I just want to go out there and do my thing. I’m pleased that I was able to come back during the weekend. Normally I would fall back but this time around I’m happy with my five-under,” added Quek.
The Asian Tour will travel Thailand for the International Final Qualifying (IFQ) – Asia which will be held at the Amata Spring Golf and Country from February 28 to March 1.
Asian Tour Order of Merit – Top-20
Pos Player Earnings (US$)
1 Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) $54,000.00
2 Mithun PERERA (SRI) $33,000.00
3 Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) $18,900.00
4 Darren BECK (AUS) $12,430.00
4 HWANG In-choon (KOR) $12,430.00
4 Angelo QUE (PHI) $12,430.00
7 Lionel WEBER (FRA) $7,440.00
7 Rahil GANGJEE (IND) $7,440.00
7 Quincy QUEK (SIN) $7,440.00
10 HUNG Chien-yao (TPE) $5,280.00
10 Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA) $5,280.00
10 Chapchai NIRAT (THA) $5,280.00
13 Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) $4,070.00
13 Rikard KARLBERG (SWE) $4,070.00
13 Danny CHIA (MAS) $4,070.00
13 Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA) $4,070.00
13 Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) $4,070.00
13 Himmat RAI (IND) $4,070.00
19 BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) $3,360.00
19 Prom MEESAWAT (THA) $3,360.00
19 Tim STEWART (AUS) $3,360.00
Ends.
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf

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