Thaworn Wiratchant has cemented his reputation as one of golf’s hardest workers as he takes on an illustrious cast of winners on every major Tour in a bid to win the US$1 million Thailand Open for the first time.
The dedicated 44-year-old Thai has played seven practice rounds in nine days at Suwan Golf and Country Club, ahead of the event which tees off on Thursday.
“I feel that this could be one of my last chances to win the Thailand Open. The new generation of Thai golfers are taking over. I played here at Suwan last Monday to Friday and then again on Monday and Tuesday,” said Thaworn.
July’s Indonesia Open was his first victory on OneAsia this year and success this week would mark the first time a player has won back-to-back titles on the tour.
“My hopes are very high even though I have played here twice in tournaments and not done well. I am really motivated,” Thaworn said.
This week’s event is the eighth tournament on this season’s OneAsia, which boasts 13 events each with prize money of over US$1 million.
Former US Open champion Michael Campbell, US PGA Tour winners Shigeki Maruyama, Andre Stolz, and Craig Parry, and three-time Asian number one Thongchai Jaidee, a multiple champion on the European Tour, will bid for honours.
Thaworn jumped to third on the OneAsia Order of Merit with victory in the Indonesia Open and can leapfrog the second-placed Stolz and leader Kim Kyung-Tae of Korea by picking up the winner’s cheque of US$180,000.
Thongchai has arrived with minor back problems and is also working on swing changes.
“I am about 60 to 70 percent fit at the moment so it will be difficult. However, it is the Thailand Open so I will be concentrating 100 per cent. With my new swing I hope to play at a higher level but it will take time,” said Thongchai.
Only two Thais have won their home Open with Suthep Meesawat triumphing in 1991 and Boonchu Ruangkit following him into the winner’s circle in 1992 and 2004.
Boonchu withdrew from the tournament earlier this week due to a back injury he picked up at the US Senior Open two weeks ago.
Campbell, who held off then world number one Tiger Woods to win the US Open in 2005, has been showing glimpses of good form this year, helped by changes he has made to his game.
“I have gone back to the way I used to swing the club. The biggest mistake I made after winning the US Open was changing too many things. I do not know why but I did it. When I think about it, it makes me mad. When you see a friend of mine, Darren Clarke, winning The Open it shows that age is no barrier. That is really encouraging and it has inspired me,” added the Kiwi.