March 2013 | Asian Tour

Els Ready for Masters after Chiangmai Trip


Chiangmai, Thailand, March 31: Reigning British Open champion Ernie Els believes his game is in good shape for the Masters Tournament in a fortnight after ending his campaign at the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT with a closing two-under-par 70 on Sunday.

The South African star settled for tied 14th position in the US$750,000 full-field Asian Tour tournament at the Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai in what was his final tournament before the year’s first Major.

Els reverted to his belly putter for the final round today after using the short stick in the first three rounds.

“I came here to get my swing under control, which I think it did. The short game is not too bad, everything is kind of there. It’s just the confidence search now,” said Els, a four-time Major winner.

Els took 29 putts with the belly putter, which he is phasing out in view of the impending ban on the anchored putting method. The South African star said he will use the belly putter at the Masters but switch to the conventional stick leading up to the U.S. Open in June.

“I just wanted to play (with the belly putter) today since it was my last competitive round before the Masters. Mentally, I was going to do the long putter at the Masters. I wanted to feel what it is like under a little bit of pressure,” said Els.

Although satisfied with his week’s work, the Big Easy was frustrated by the tricky greens at the Alpine course. “I played well especially today but didn’t get anything out of the round. I’m hitting it nice again. I’m really glad I came here. I’ve had a great experience in Chiangmai. The people are just wonderful, and the golf course was good. I just wished I made more birdies,” he said.

Els was also impressed with by quality of young Asian Tour players whom he played with this week. He was paired with India’s Anirban Lahiri in the third round and played with Thai teenager Thitiphun Chuayprakong during the final round, with the youngster outscoring him by one shot.
“Great guys,” enthused Els. “The guy I played with today, he’s a great little guy. He’s got a good game and yesterday as well with Lahiri. I think on the Asian Tour, the players are really good. It’s always good to come here to play,” said Els.

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), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistic Partner), 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

About IMG
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.


Chiangmai, March 31: China’s Hu Mu believes he can compete with the world’s best players after finishing ahead of Major winners Ernie Els and Y.E. Yang following a career first top-five outing on the Asian Tour at the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Hu made a brave final round charge with a solid four-under-par 68 to finish fourth for his best result since taking up membership on the region’s premier Tour which is celebrating its milestone 10th season in 2013..
His four-day total of 15-under-par 273 was five shots behind champion Scott Hend of Australia but he took pride with the fact that he finished three and two shots ahead of South Africa’s Els and Korea’s Yang respectively in the US$750,000 full-field Asian Tour event.
“I think I can play with the best players, Kiradech (Aphibarnrat), Yang, Ernie and Prayad (Markssaeng) – they are all here this week. If I can play my best, I can compete with them,” said Hu, who will feature in the next Asian Tour event in the Philippines in two weeks’ time.
The talented Hu, touted as the next great Chinese hope, turned in 36 but a birdie on the 10th hole sparked a strong finish as the Chinese birdied 13, 14 and 17 to move up the leaderboard at the majestic Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai.
“I set my goal at 15-under to win the tournament. The scores were better than I thought. I did my best and I stuck to my game plan. Today was such as slow start. I was even through nine,” he said.
After missing his Asian Tour card from Qualifying School, Hu is determined to make full use of his limited playing opportunities on the Asian Tour. His strong showing in Chiangmai has moved him up to 25th place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit with earnings of US$39,187 from two starts.
“It’s a huge thing for me. I’m trying to get into the top-60 (to earn full playing rights for 2014). I failed to get my status at the Q-school and I got a few sponsors’ invites and have managed to make a splash which is great,” he smiled.
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), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistic Partner), 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
About IMG
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.


Chiangmai, Thailand, March 30: Australia’s Scott Hend charged from six-shots back to win the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT by three strokes after a stunning eight-under-par 64 in the final round on Sunday.
Big-hitting Hend earned his third Asian Tour title in front of large crowds at the Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai, taking home the winner’s cheque of US$135,000 with his four-day total of 20-under-par 268.
South African newcomer Bryce Easton, playing in his first Asian Tour event, also shot a 64 to take second place while a faltering Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, who led by five overnight, settled for third on 272 after a day to forget when he soared to a 74 in the US$750,000 full-field Asian Tour tournament.
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The growing emergence of China’s Hu Mu continued as he took fourth place following a 68 as he posted his first top-five finish on the region’s premier Tour which is celebrating its milestone 10th season in 2013.
Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, who needed a victory to have a chance of qualifying for the Masters Tournament in a fortnight, settled tied 10th position after a 72 while South Africa’s Ernie Els, using the belly putter after three days with the short stick, finished tied 14th in the Chiangmai Golf Classic which was offering the highest world ranking points in Asia this week.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I had a chance to win,” said the 40-year-old Hend. “I played with Prayad the first two rounds and he was hitting the ball great and putting great. And obviously he played great yesterday again and I thought he would continue with the way he was playing.
“I was just looking for a solid top-five finish. Obviously it all fell together and I played quite well. Unfortunately for the other guys, they didn’t quite keep the pace going which was good for me.”
Despite a bogey on three, Hend sparked his round at the next hole with a 30-foot eagle conversion, which led to four more birdies over his next five holes. “From there, I just played pretty solid golf and holed the putts that I missed in the first three days. That was the difference. This win is fantastic. To shoot 20 under helps you believe in yourself that you’ve got the game.”
His two previous wins on the Asian Tour also were come-from-behind victories. He stormed from five back to win the 2008 Indonesian Presidents Invitational and was four behind when he won the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic last season.
“I never had the chance to lead from the front. I would love to lead into the last round by three and see if I can hold the guys off. But you’ll take anything you can get. To shoot eight under on the Sunday, I’m pretty proud of it,” said Hend, who credited his caddie and former Tour regular Tony Carolan for his triumph.

The 25-year-old Easton, who missed his Asian Tour card by one shot at Qualifying School in January, was nine under for the round through 14 holes but double bogeyed the par three 15th when his tee shot found the lake. He missed a birdie chance at the closing par five 18th and was eventually passed by a fast-chaging Hend.
“I played great. The goal was to sneak into the top-five to get into next week (Panasonic Open India). I got going nicely and got into a position to win. I hit a few shots close early on and made a couple of putts and kept building on that. I just kept heading in the right direction but made some mistakes in the end,” said Easton, whose runner-up cheque of US$82,500 is expected to be enough for him to get a full Tour card for 2014.
After three days of imperious golf, Prayad lamented a poor start where bogeyed the third and then found water en route to a double bogey on the par five seventh. A missed putt for from close range on nine for an outward 39 left him with an uphill task.
“My irons were no good. The second shots were always reaching the fringe on almost every hole. My feeling was okay when I started the final round. I’m not angry now although I had a chance to win,” said the 47-year-old veteran star.
Scores after round 4 of the Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT being played at the par 72, 7,471 Yards Alpine GR course (a- denotes amateur):
268 – Scott HEND (AUS) 68-69-67-64.
271 – Bryce EASTON (RSA) 68-67-72-64.
272 – Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 65-67-66-74.
273 – HU Mu (CHN) 66-69-70-68.
274 – Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 71-69-70-64, BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 69-69-68-68, SIDDIKUR (BAN) 69-67-69-69, Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 71-67-66-70, Matthew STIEGER (AUS) 68-67-68-71.
275 – MO Joong-kyung (KOR) 70-67-71-67, Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA) 68-70-68-69, Digvijay SINGH (IND) 67-67-70-71, Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 69-65-69-72.
276 – KIM Gi-whan (KOR) 71-70-69-66, Chris RODGERS (ENG) 72-66-71-67, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 71-69-68-68, Jake HIGGINBOTTOM (AUS) 70-68-69-69, Jaakko MAKITALO (FIN) 72-66-69-69, Ernie ELS (RSA) 69-71-66-70.
277 – Tetsuji HIRATSUKA (JPN) 70-68-71-68, Mithun PERERA (SRI) 70-66-71-70, Wade ORMSBY (AUS) 70-70-67-70, Jason KNUTZON (USA) 67-69-70-71, Y. E. YANG (KOR) 69-68-67-73, Anton HAIG (RSA) 72-66-66-73.

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), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistic Partner), 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
About IMG
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.


SCOTT HEND (AUS) – FINAL ROUND 64 (-8), TOTAL 268 (-20)
At the start of the day I didn’t think I had much of a chance to win. I played with Prayad (Marksaeng) in the first two rounds and he was hitting the ball really well. He was putting extremely well. Six shots in front of me, I thought he would carry on his present form. I guess fortunately for me, he (Prayad) might have been a little bit tired after winning two weeks ago.

When I got into the fourth hole, I hit driver and five wood on the green and rolled in a 30-foot putt for eagle just after I bogeyed the third hole. From there I just played pretty solid golf and holed the putts which I missed on the first three days. I guess that was difference in my round.

This win is fantastic. I played great at Avantha Masters (India) and didn’t finish the job. I missed the cut in Malaysia so to come back and shoot 20-under sort of helps you believe in yourself that you still got the game and can hole the putts. I had Tony Carolan as my caddy and he is a former Asian Tour member. It is great to share this win with Tony because he is a great friend and will be forever.

I want to go back to see my two six-year-olds and my wife. I haven’t seen them since January. For the rest of the year hopefully I win another one or two titles on the Asian Tour. I’m trying to qualify for the CIMB and HSBC events so this is a good start for that.

The Asian Tour has been a fantastic place for me to be in. This is the Tour in the region and in my eyes it is the only Tour in the region. It is a fantastic breeding ground of the young players and the middle aged players such as myself. Everyone wants to come out and forge a good living and play in good tournaments and try to move to the next level. This is a great place to be and a place to play on.

My best form of defence is attack. I’m an aggressive golfer and I play better when I’m aggressive. I guess I’m just lucky that when I’m in position I make the birdies and give myself a chance to win. I guess all the cards fell into place for me.

The last five years for me have been amazing because of my children. I grew up in Australia but I get to experience all the culture in Asia. It is a massive learning curve for me. It is interesting to see all the different cultures in different countries and embracing the culture. I found it very enlightening and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

Obviously, I want to play on the PGA Tour but I like playing here as well. I like the people and culture. It has been fantastic.

BRYCE EASTON (RSA) – FINAL ROUND 64 (-8), TOTAL 271 (-18)

I played great today. The goal was to sneak into the top-5 to get into next week. That was all I was trying to do. Got going nicely and got into a position to win. That’s what we all want to do. Made a few putts. Yesterday, I shot level par which was disappointing. I gave myself a lot of chances but missed many chances. Today, I hit a few close early and made a couple of putts and kept building on that. Just kept heading in the right direction.

It’s my first Asian Tour event. Played nicely at home on the Sunshine Tour. I’m trying to get some status out here. Just trying to get the opportunity to play. Obviously I got the exemption this week and to take advantage of that and have a chance of winning was great.

I just like the idea of playing in Asia. I’m from Durban. I don’t mind the climate. I think the Asian Tour is growing in each and every year and it’s going to keep getting better.

I was disappointed to miss the Qschool by one shot. Won stage one and had two nightmare rounds in final stage which was quite tough. Hopefully this week is enough to get into next week and try to take advantage of my opportunities.

PRAYAD MARKSAENG (THA) – FINAL ROUND 74 (+2), TOTAL 272 (-16)

My irons were no good today. The second shots were always reaching the fringe on almost every hole.

On three, I hooked my tee shot and the ball ended in a divot. Didn’t have shot. On the seventh hole (where he double bogeyed), the ball was sitting on the second cut rough and I hit it too high and the wind caught the ball and it ended in the water. On nine, I rushed my par putt and missed it.

My feeling was okay when I started the final round. I’m not angry although I had a chance to win.

HU MU (CHN) – FINAL ROUND 68 (-4), TOTAL 273 (-15)

I set my goal at 15 under to win the tournament. The scores were better than I thought. I did my best. I stuck to my game plan. Today was such as slow start. I was even through nine. Made a terrible bogey on seven with a two iron from the fairway. I’d birdied the hole everyday. I still stuck to my game plan and it worked out well.

Back nine, I still missed birdied chances on every hole. They were all on the lips. I think I can play with the best players, Kiradech, YE, Ernie, Prayad, they are all here this week. If I can play my best, I can compete with them. I’ll play my next event in the Philippine event.

It’s a huge thing for me. I’m trying to get into the top-60. I failed to get my status at the Qschool and got a few sponsors’ invites to a few events and have managed to make a splash which is great.

ERNIE ELS (RSA) – FINAL ROUND 70 (-2), TOTAL 276 (-12)

Frustrating. Played well especially today but didn’t get anything out of the round. I’m hitting it nice again. I’m really glad I came. I’ve had a great experience in Chiangmai. People are just wonderful, course was good. I just wished I made more birdies.

I just wanted to play today, it was my last competitive round before the Masters. Mentally, I was going to do long putter at the Masters. I wanted to feel what it is like under a little bit of pressure.

Great guys. The guy I played with today, great little guy. Good game. Yesterday as well. I think the Asian Tour, the players are really good. It’s always good to come here.

I came here to get my swing here under control, which I think it did. Short game is not too bad, everything is kind of there. It’s just the confidence search.

DIGVIJAY SINGH (IND) – FINAL ROUND 71 (-1), TOTAL 275 (-13)

Birdied 15 and 18. Didn’t putt very well. missed a short one on eight and missed a par save on nine. Missed a few short putts. Didn’t feel good with the putting. My putting speed was out. My line reading was a bit out. Overall a good week. Quite happy with how I held myself on the course. Icing on cake was two birds coming in. Looking forward to next week. I needed this week, really looking forward. A lot of excitement about next week. Don’t think I’m going to be nervous at 41 years old. Definitely like to enjoy the week.


Chiangmai, March 30: China’s Hu Mu lamented another day of missed opportunities as he scrambled to a two-under-par 70 in the third round of the inaugural US$750,000 Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT on Saturday.

The 23-year-old, who took up membership with the Asian Tour this season, was frustrated on the tricky greens at the Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai as his three-day total of 11-under-par 205 left him in tied 10th place, seven shots behind runaway leader Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand.

Hu needed 32 putts as he made four birdies against two bogeys in the Asian Tour’s newest tournament, which is offering the highest world ranking points in Asia this week.

“I played well. 70 is not a bad score here. I missed a lot of opportunities. Maybe I wanted it too much. I was still hitting good putts but the speed or lines were just a bit off. If I can be a bit more relaxed and focus on hitting good putts than trying to make them, hopefully I will be better tomorrow,” said Hu.

The young Chinese, touted as the country’s next great hope as he seeks to qualify for the Olympics in 2016, intends to stick to his game plan to finish as high up as possible on Sunday. While he is seven shots behind Prayad, he is only two back of Thongchai Jaidee and Matthew Stieger, who share second place on 203.

“At the moment I’m trying to follow my game plan. The past three days, even though I didn’t make any putts, I am still playing well. Yesterday and today, I had chances to go low. I just need to take my chances but I need to stay relaxed on the golf course,” said Hu.

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), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistic Partner), 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

About IMG
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.


Chiangmai, March 30: South African Ernie Els hit his lowest round of the season with a six-under-par 66 at the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT on Saturday, declaring he was on the right track in his preparation for the Masters Tournament.
The four-time Major winner made it look easy with seven birdies against a lone bogey in his third round at the Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai as he moved to tied 15th with his three-day score of 10-under-par 206, eight shots from the third round leader Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand at the US$750,000 full field Asian Tour event.
Australian Marcus Both and India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar shot matching 65s as the early session players enjoyed a day of low scoring.
Els, who is wielding a short putter this week in place of his regular belly putter which he used to win the British Open last July, felt he could have gone much lower after taking 27 putts, his lowest on the greens so far this week.
“Yeah. Obviously I could have done a little bit better. I gave myself chances. The greens were nice and smooth and a little bit quicker. I made a couple of putts and was trying to squeeze some birdies out of the course on the last couple of holes but didn’t hit good shots,” said Els.
“It is getting better. I haven’t had a good year up to now. I haven’t played great rounds. I needed this and I’ve been working hard on the short putter. Obviously, today was a little easier on the greens. Hopefully I can build on that. I wanted to go low but I’m going in the right direction with a 66. Maybe I’ll go a little bit lower tomorrow.”
Els has said that he will revert back to his belly putter for the Masters Tournament in two weeks’ time.
Ends


Chiangmai, March 30: Ernie Els shot his lowest round of the season with a six-under-par 66 to move into the top-10 of the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT in the early stages of the third round on Saturday.
The South African, a four-time Major winner and nicknamed the Big Easy, certainly made it look easy with seven birdies against a lone bogey at the immaculate Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai as he moved up the leaderboard with his three-day score of 10-under-par 206.
Australian Marcus Both currently holds the clubhouse lead on 204 after a stellar 65 which included one eagle and three birdies over his closing five holes as he stepped up his chase for a third Asian Tour victory.
Marcus Both Marcus Both
Saturday was certainly Moving Day as India’s young star Gaganjeet Bhullar matched Both’s 65 to move up the board with his 205 total but the biggest mover of all was Els, who is wielding a short putter this week in place of his regular belly putter which he used to win the British Open last July.
Els, who will revert back to the long putter for the Masters Tournament in two weeks’ time, needed 27 putts for his round, the lowest so far this week, and felt he could have made an ever bigger move.
“Yeah. Obviously I could have done a little bit better. I gave myself chances. The greens were nice and smooth and a little bit quicker. I made a couple of putts and was trying to squeeze some birdies out of the course on the last couple of holes but didn’t hit good shots,” said Els.
“It is getting better. I haven’t had a good year up to now. I haven’t played great rounds. I’ve needed this and I’ve been working hard on the short putter. Obviously, today was a little easier on the greens. Hopefully I can build on that. I wanted to go low but I’m going in the right direction with a 66. Maybe I’ll go a little bit lower tomorrow.”
Playing alongside three-time Asian Tour winner Anirban Lahiri, Els was full of praise of the young Indian. “He is a good player … lots of talent. He is a player who can break through. He has a lot of length. He hits the ball miles and has a really strong game. He has a good short game as well so I see some good things coming from him,” said Els.
“He is young so he has to keep playing and trying to win some tournaments out here and go up the ladder. He just needs to keep working hard.”
Both was over the moon with his strong finish, which included a 15-foot eagle on 14 after he punched a low five iron shot beneath some branches which set up a grandstand finish.
“It was a good finish. Before that, I made a couple of bogeys which I was a bit disappointed with. One three putt on the long par three 12th and missed the green on 13 which I didn’t get up and down,” said Both.
“I hit a really good second shot into 14 and made the putt for eagle and then hit a nice shot on 15 and made birdie. Sort of missed a makeable one on 16 and then birdied 17 and 18 with a couple of two, three footers. It was good. I’m not going to be disappointed with a 65 but I was playing with Pariya (Junhasavasdikul) and he reminded me that I should have been a few better! I’ll take it but there’s still a lot of golf out there for the leaders and I’m sure they’ll shoot a decent number. I’m sure I’ve got a bit of work tomorrow.”
Bhullar is looking forward to a big Sunday push after hauling himself back into contention at the new US$750,000 full-field Asian Tour event, which is offering the highest world ranking points in Asia this week.
Gaganjeet Bhullar Gaganjeet Bhullar
“I played well. I hit the ball really good and close. I had many opportunities. Anyway it was moving day. There are still another 18 holes. I’m very excited to play on Sunday especially with the way my game is shaping up,” said the four-time winner.
“I can definitely expect another low one coming. I’ve been striking the ball well but today was one of those days where I felt better on the greens. As a result the score was better than the last two days. I want to take this tempo into the last two days.
“I didn’t do anything on the driving range but did a lot of work on the putting green. That’s what I need to do for the final round. Technically, I’m feeling high on confidence and there’s nothing I can really work on my swing during tournaments. Otherwise, putting is one thing which differentiates the winner from the rest of the field.”


PRAYAD MARKSAENG (THA) – THIRD ROUND 66 (-6), TOTAL 198 (-18)

I felt tired because it was quite hot out there. I didn’t play well on the first three holes when I used the normal putting grip. I changed to the cross-hand grip and birdied the fourth hole. I feel very comfortable on this golf course because I like the landscape a lot. I like playing on golf courses with nice scenery. The greens were tricky today.

I made mistakes on 15 and 16 but it doesn’t matter. I was careless on 16 but I still think I have a very strong advantage.

I have a five-shot lead now and I will play steadily and not be aggressive. I think the pressure is only my followers. They need to have a good front nine or they won’t be able to catch up with me.

I’m surprised to see so many fans come out today. It is good that we have a first professional event in Chiangmai.

MATTHEW STIEGER (AUS) – THIRD ROUND 68 (-4), TOTAL 203 (-13)

It was one of those rounds where I plodded my way around. I’m pretty amazed I’m through 54 holes without any bogeys….Touch wood. Hopefully we can keep that going on the last day. The last three days I’ve stayed really patient and had some good chances. I’m happy where I’m standing.

I’m used to this sort of courses. I grew up in a little country town in Narborough in Sydney. I’m enjoying the heat which not many people say but I grew up in this sort of heat and humidity. It sort of suits my game a little bit.

I went to Asian Tour Qualifying School after turning professional six months ago. Hard work pays off. I have been training pretty hard back home. I was grinding back home and it has paid off. I turned 22 in February. I’m pretty young but loving it. I turned pro in October. I was fortunate enough to win the 2012 New South Wales PGA Championship in what was my sixth professional event.

*note: He represented Australia in the Eisenhower Trophy in 2012 and won the 2011 Tasmanian Open.

THONGCHAI JAIDEE (THA) – THIRD ROUND 6 (-3), TOTAL 203 (-13)

I think the problem was the putting and reading the lines. I had one three putt. Hit a lot of good shots and the greens are killing (me). They are tough to read. My performance, I don’t have any complaints. Hit 15 greens but took too many putts. It’s okay.
Prayad played so well today. He dropped a couple of shots but he came back. He likes the course. He’s in form after winning the Thailand Open. He’s got a good chance this week. I’ll try my best. Need luck tomorrow. One more day. I’m going to be five or six behind.

If conditions are like this, six might be too far away. I need 10 under tomorrow to have a chance tomorrow. Will play like my old game, hit fairways and greens. Sometimes need luck in the rough too. Sometimes it sits up, sometimes it sits down.

Just the greens are tough to read. Sometimes you putt into the grain, it’s slow and it can be really fast as well. You just need to putt very well this week.

DIGVIJAY SINGH (IND) – THIRD ROUND 70 (-2), TOTAL 204 (-12)

I didn’t have the best start. I hit it close on the second and fourth holes but I wasn’t reading the greens correctly today. I just didn’t get the speed of the greens right. Then I hit it really good. Hit it to about six feet on the 10th hole and it was a ‘given’ birdie on 11. I made a great par on 17 when I hit it over the green and into thick rough but managed to get it out to about two feet.
Overall it was a good experience playing with Thongchai Jaidee. The last time I played with him was as an amateur at the 1995 Nomura Cup in New Zealand. I haven’t played with him for a long time. It was great fun. I’m amazed by the speed he plays with.

My goal remains the same. My plan of action remains the same. I’m really enjoying myself this week. This is a really beautiful golf course I think it is one of the best that I’ve played in Asia. The conditions are absolutely fantastic. I need to put up a good score and play the best that I can. If the win comes along then it will be icing on the cake.
MARCUS BOTH (AUS) – THIRD ROUND 65 (-7), TOTAL 204 (-12)

That must have felt very nice?
It was a good finish. Before that, I made a couple of bogeys which I was a bit disappointed. One three putt on the long par three 12th and missed the green on 13 which I didn’t get up and down. Hit a really good second shot into 14 and made the putt for eagle and hit a nice shot on 15 and made birdie. Sort of missed a makeable one on 16 and then birdied 17 and 18 with a couple of two three footers. It was good. I’m not going to be disappointed with a 65 but I was playing with Pariya (Junhasavasdikul) and he was reminding me that I should have been a few better! I’ll take it but there’s still a lot of golf out there for the leaders and I’m sure they’ll shoot a decent number. I’m sure I’ve got a bit of work tomorrow.

You found something at the range in Malaysia last week?
The first few weeks, Myanmar I played okay but had an average Sunday. In SAIL, I just plodded along and was not comfortable with the way I’m hitting it. Ball striking is really my strength and I didn’t really know why. I did some track-man stuff on the range in Malaysia and that gave me some extra information and I realized I wasn’t swinging it as bad as I thought. Since then, a change of driver for a start and made sure my set up was the way it was supposed to be. I struggled with driving the ball. In India I was hitting three, four, five fairways in a round and it’s really difficult to make a score from the rough. It’s amazing when you start hitting some fairways and what you can do. Just keep the ball a bit more on the fairway this week and the score kind of reflects that.

GAGANJEET BHULLAR (IND) – THIRD ROUND 65 (-7), TOTAL 205 (-11)
Gaganjeet Bhullar Gaganjeet Bhullar
I played well. I hit the ball really good and close. I had many opportunities. Anyway it was moving day. There are still another 18 holes. I’m very excited to play on Sunday especially with the way my game is shaping up.

I can definitely expect another low one coming. I’ve been striking the ball well but today was one of those days where I felt better on the greens. As a result the score was better than the last two days. I want to take this tempo into the last two days.

I didn’t do anything on the driving range but did a lot of work on the putting green. That’s what I need to do for the final round. Technically, I’m feeling high on confidence and there’s nothing I can really work on my swing during tournaments. Otherwise, putting is one thing which differentiates the winner from the rest of the field.

ERNIE ELS (RSA) – THIRD ROUND 66 (-6), TOTAL 206 (-10)

Q. Finally things clicked for you?
Yeah. Obviously I could have done a little bit better. I gave myself chances. The greens were nice and smooth and a little bit quicker. I made a couple of putts and was trying to squeeze some birdies out of the course on the last couple of holes but didn’t hit good shots.

Q. Is this the lowest round of the year for you? Must be happy to do it with a short putter?
It is getting better. I haven’t had a good year up to now. I haven’t played great rounds. I’ve needed this and I’ve been working hard on the short putter. Obviously, today was a little easier on the greens. Hopefully I can build on that. I wanted to go low today but I’m going in the right direction with a 66. Maybe I’ll go a little bit lower tomorrow.

Q. What do you expect from the guys in the lead?
It is third day flags. There are a few accessible flags on the back nine. The guys got a lot of opportunities for birdies but they need to hit the right shots.

Q. How do you rate Anirban Lahiri’s game?
He is a good player. Lots of talent. He is a player who can breakthrough. He has a lot of length. He hits the ball miles and has a really strong game. He has a good short game as well so I see some good things coming from him.

Q. What sort of advice would you give him to improve?
It is all about breaks isn’t it? He is young so he has to keep playing and try to win some tournaments out here and go up the ladder. He just needs to keep working hard.


New Delhi, March 30: Promising graduates from the Asian Tour Qualifying School will be looking to stamp their mark when they tee off against the region’s top players at the Panasonic Open India next week.

Korean-American Chan Kim, who topped the class at Qualifying School in January, will spearhead the rookies’ charge as they fight for glory at the US$300,000 Asian Tour full-field event from April 4-7.

“Earning my Asian Tour card at Qualifying School has opened many doors for me. It has given my career a huge boost and I’m very thankful for the opportunities given. Now it’s time to prove myself against the big boys,” said Chan, who will be playing in his fifth tournament at the Delhi Golf Club.

“There are a lot of good players from other countries and if you’re not on top of your game every week, it’s going to be tough to win a tournament out here. I’m just trying to prepare the best that I can,” he added.

A return to the venerable Delhi Golf Club will provide a boost for Chan as he contended at the venue during the SAIL-SBI Open earlier this month before finishing tied eighth.

France’s Lionel Weber is another promising graduate in the Panasonic Open India field as he prepares to take on home favourites Jeev Milkha Singh, Anirban Lahiri, who won his third Asian Tour title at Delhi Golf Club earlier this month and Gaganjeet Bhullar, who finished second at the co-sanctioned Avantha Masters a fortnight ago.

The highly-rated Frenchman is among a cosmopolitan of international stars from over 30 different nationalities playing on the Asian Tour this season.

Weber, who finished tied-seventh at the Asian Tour’s season-opening event in Myanmar, is looking forward to carrying his good form on the region’s premier Tour, which is celebrating its milestone 10th season in 2013.
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“I’m happy to be able to play on the Asian Tour. I’m glad that I managed to earn my Asian Tour card at the Qualifying School. It is a brand new life for me ever since and I really hope to do well,” said the 22-year-old.

Other Asian Tour graduates expected to feature strongly at the Panasonic Open India include Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang, Richard Lee of Canada, Thomas Petersson of Sweden, Steve Lewton of England and David Lutterus of Australia.

The Panasonic Open India will also welcome the return of defending champion Digvijay Singh, who ended a 12-year barren run when he claimed his maiden Asian Tour victory last year. Two-time Asian Tour number one Jeev Milkha Singh will make his debut in the Panasonic Open India.

Other top contenders include Australia’s Kirean Pratt, Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera and Bangladeshi Siddikur, who finished third at the SAIL-SBI Open this month.

The top-three players at the Panasonic Open India will be extended invitations to the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation, in Osaka, Japan in September.

The Panasonic Open India will be beamed live throughout four days on the Asian Tour Media’s global television platform which reaches over 200 countries and 650 million homes.

About the Panasonic Open India 2013
The Panasonic Open India, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI), will return for its third edition from April 4 to April 7. Local hero Digvijay Singh will defend the title at the US$300,000 event held at the Delhi Golf Club. The Asian Tour event will be title sponsored by Panasonic India Pte Ltd and supported by Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism and the Government of India. The Tournament will be played once again at the Host Venue Delhi Golf Club. Other sponsors include. Homestead (Platinum Sponsor) Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla (Official Hotel), Bentbrass (Official Apparel), Srixon (Official Ball), 4moles.com (Digital Media sponsor), GolfPlus Monthly (Magazine sponsor) and Inetol Headwear.
The tournament is organized and promoted by the Asian Tour. Get the latest news and tournament information on www.asiantour.com and www.4moles.com. You can also follow us on www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf and www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf

About Panasonic India
Panasonic makes available in India its wide range of consumer electronics and home appliances like LCD & Plasma TVs, DVD players, home theatre systems, cameras, camcorders, car audio systems, air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators, microwave ovens, automatic cookers, vacuum cleaners and the like. The Company has a workforce of about 12,650 in India and estimated to do a turnover of Rs 10,000 crore in FY 2012. For more information on the company and the Panasonic brand in India, please visit http://panasonic.co.in.

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), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), 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


March 30: The big-hitting Anton Haig of South Africa signalled his return to Asia by leading the Driving Distance category with an average of 339 yards off the tees.
Huang Tao of Chinese Taipei is second with drives of 323 yards while Chase Wright of the United States is three yards back.
Haig, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, is ahead of Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, who is leading in the same category on the European Tour and PGA Tour with drives of 318.3 yards and 307.2 yards respectively.
Korea’s Lee Sung, who was born deaf, is currently the straightest hitter on the Asian Tour after finding 84% of fairways. Indians Harmeet Kahlon is second with an accuracy rate of 80% followed by countryman Gaganjeet Bhullar, a four-time Asian Tour winner, on 79%.
On the European Tour Adilson Da Silva of Brazil, also an Asian Tour member, leads the category on 82.7% while Jeff Maggert is ahead in the category with 73.04% on the PGA Tour.
Sung Mao-chang of Chinese Taipei and Michael Tran of Vietname are tied in the Greens in Regulation category with a strike rate of 83% followed by upcoming Chinese player Hu Mu on 82%.
Sung and Tran have a slight advantage of Justin Rose of England, who leads in Europe on 80.8%. Brandt Snedeker tops the group on the PGA Tour on 74.07%.

The secret to Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s success this season lies in his stroke average. He leads the Lowest Stroke Average category with scoring of 67.82. Hwang In-choon (68.25) of Korea and Liang Wen-chong (68.57) of China are placed second and third respectively.
Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa is in prime position on the European Tour with a 69.4 stroke average.
Meanwhile Daniel Chopra of Sweden has an average of 27.3 putts a round to lead the Putting Average category. He is trailed closely by two-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Jeev Milkha Singh of India (26.6) and Liang Wen-chong of China (27.1)
Marcus Fraser of Australia, who won the same category on the Asian Tour last season, currently leads on the European Tour with an average of 27.8 putts.
In the Birdie Leader category, Baek Seuk-hyun of Korea has notched a total of 68 birdies which was matched by Berry Henson of the United States.
Ends.

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