BANGKOK – The 2013 OneAsia Tour begins this week at the Thana City Golf and Sports Club in Thailand where the Thailand Open is played for first occasion under the sanctioning of the OneAsia Tour.
Another first for the event is that it will be jointly sanctioned with the Japan Golf Tour with monies earned being credited towards both money lists.
The Thana City Golf Club is a Greg Norman designed facility giving Norman a unique double this week with the Asian and European Tour’s Avantha Masters in New Delhi also being played on a Norman designed layout.
The tournament will be followed two weeks later by the Indonesian PGA Championship, again co- sanctioned with the Japan Golf Tour providing opportunity for OneAsia Tour players to gain immediate access to the Japan Tour if they were to win and should they so wish.
In terms of world ranking the event is headed by Ireland’s Padraig Harrington who after a solid finish to 2012 has not played quite as well in 2013. He is however one of the most credentialed players of the last ten years in world golf having won three major championships in that time and is more than capable of winning here.
Defending champion Chris Wood is currently ranked number 64 in the world and his recent win in Qatar suggests his game is in good enough shape to handle this field and successfully defend.
Multiple Japan Tour winners, Shingo Katayama, Kenichi Kuboya and Yuta Ikeda are the leading Japanese players in the field and should make their presence felt. None have played a lot outside of Japan in recent times but they have experienced a lot of success in their homeland against fields equally as strong as that they will face this week.
The Australasian challenge is headed by recent NZPGA Championship winner Michael Hendry who played well for 36 holes last week in Florida at the WGC event before running out of steam.
Hendry is both a Japan Tour and OneAsia Tour cardholder, this week’s tournament being his first test as a Japan Tour cardholder having made it through Tour School last year.
Brad Kennedy is the next highest ranked Australasian in the field and having recently come off a victory at the Queensland PGA Championship his chances appear good.
Kurt Barnes is a former OneAsia and Japan Golf Tour event winner and although below his best in recent starts when he is good he is very good. If he can play up to his best he could surprise.
Kim Kyung Tae appears one of the best hopes amongst the many talented Koreans in the field, the Presidents Cup team member playing his first event of 2013 after a great finish to 2012 when he finished inside the top twenty in six of his last seven starts including three top threes.
The tournament carries prize-money of US$1 million.