Sentosa, Singapore May 13: The Asian Tour season might have hit the pause button due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. But that does not stop us from gazing into the crystal ball to pick out likely members who might enjoy their breakthrough on Tour when the season resumes.
Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha)
Phachara Khongwatmai, whose name in Thai means ‘Diamond’ is raw gem,has continued to sparkle in many ways since he burst onto the scene as a wide-eyed 14-year-old, winning a professional golf tournament in 2013.
He would go on to become the youngest winner on the Asian Development Tour at the age of 15 when he won the 2015 PGM CCM Rahman Putra Championship.
At 21 now, Phachara has never been in better form in the last few couple months before the COVID-19 halted play. In his last four events of 2019, Phachara never finished lower than tied-sixth, with two tied-seconds in the Thailand Masters and Sabah Masters as his best results.
He also managed to strike a formidable partnership with Thai legend, Thongchai Jaidee when they won the GolfSixes Cascais in Portugal, a two-player team event on the European Tour in June.
The Thai started his season at the Hong Kong Open with a tied-22nd finish before following it up with a tied-65th result at the SMBC Singapore Open.
He showed he was ready to challenge for his first Asian Tour victory when he secured a tied-seventh finish at the Bandar Malaysia Open, which would be the last event on the Asian Tour before the season came to a halt.
Scott Vincent (Zim)
Scott Vincent is the first Zimbabwean to play on the Asian Tour and charting a course on the Asian Tour for his compatriots to follow.
While he may have notched his first professional win on the AbemaTV Tour in Japan last year, it will be a breakthrough on the Asian Tour that he will be eyeing.
Having made his debut on the Tour in 2016, Vincent has finished second on five occasions. His dreams of entering the winner’s circle are often dashed at the last minute. But even in defeat, the ever-gracious Zimbabwean has always accepted it may not be his day and he probably have to bid for their time a little longer.
He has often said he is ‘getting very close to winning for sure,” and we can be sure to bet on that to come true soon.
Travis Smyth (Aus)
The lanky Australian has made great progress since he earned his Asian Tour card through Qualifying School in 2018. It was also in that same rookie year that Travis Smyth came closest to winning when he finished seventh at the Shinhan Donghae Open.
Since then, Smyth has gone on to establish himself as a genuine contender, coming close again this year at the Hong Kong Open and SMBC Singapore Open where he finished tied-13th and 11th respectively.
Although he now spends his time in isolation, offering free tips to golfers over social media apart from keeping fit and staying sharp, Smyth could be dispensing winning tips next when he returns to the tee.
Gunn Charoenkul (Tha)
Even as he enjoys his well-deserved family time with his new-born daughter now, Gunn will be ready to come out with all guns blazing when the season resumes.
In all his events played in 2019 that were Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) events, Gunn posted 19 top-10 finishes across all Tours. He may not have made his breakthrough on the Asian Tour but his consistently was certainly there for all to see.
Gunn continued where he left off early this year with an outright third place at the Hong Kong Open followed by a tied-14th and tied-13th finish at the SMBC Singapore Open and Bandar Malaysia Open respectively.
Despite not ending up with a grandstand finish, Gunn still holds a very strong sense of self-belief as he ‘would rather be very consistent throughout the year than win one and then not perform at all.
He knows he needs to be stay patient and ‘when it’s time (his win), it’s going to come.” Words that might prove prophetic if he continues to play true to form.