One of the best fields ever assembled for the leading event in Thai golf will converge on Suwan Golf and Country Club from August 11-14, as it makes its second appearance on burgeoning One Asia with live televsion pictures being beamed around the world.
The first prize of US$180,000 is the richest on offer for a men’s event in Thailand with pan-regional broadcaster ESPN-STAR Sports broadcasting the title race on all four days supported by local coverage on Channel 11.
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.
Japan Tour legend Shingo Katayama, with an amazing 26 titles to his name, and his compatriot Hideto Tanihara, a nine-time winner in Japan, will also bring their considerable talent to OneAsia and the Thailand Open.
Veteran Thaworn Wiratchant, bidding for back-to-back wins on OneAsia after his triumph at the Indonesia Open presented by Enjoy Jakarta, big-hitting Kiradech Aphibarnrat, winner of the SAIL Open on the Asian circuit earlier in the year, Queen’s Cup champion Chawalit Plaphol and in-form Prom Meesawat are expected to lead the local challenge along with Thongchai.
“It’s the dream of all Thai professionals to win the Thailand Open,” said Thaworn, 44. “For me, it would mean everything to take the title.
“I caddied in the Thailand Open when I was a teenager and I have played in every edition of the tournament since 1988.
“Every time I play I want to win but no more so than in the Thailand Open. I don’t need prize money, I need trophies.”
Australia’s Stolz, winner of the season-opening Indonesia PGA Championship, and Thaworn are ranked second and third respectively on the OneAsia moneylist and both have the opportunity to overtake leader Kim Kyung-tae of Korea with victory on Sunday.
Korea’s Kim Dae-hyun, who won the 2010 GS Caltex Maekyung Open, and Rory Hie of Indonesia, runner-up in both OneAsia events in his homeland this year, are among the young guns looking to make an impact.
Han Chang-won, the 20-year-old Korean who won the 2009 Asian Amateur Championship, has impressed during his first season on OneAsia with two top-10 places and currently lies seventh on the Order of Merit with US$119,082 in earnings.
He led at the halfway stage of the Indonesia Open before finishing joint fifth and it seems only a matter of time before he confirms his status as one of the brightest prospects in Asian golf with a victory.
In the absence of defending champion Liang Wenchong, who is playing the US PGA Championship after his outstanding eighth place finish last year, several promising Chinese players have the chance to step out of the shadow of OneAsia’s number one.
23-year-old Zhang Xinjun caught the eye with a fantastic fifth place finish at the Nanshan China Masters and the talented trio of Hu Mu, Su Dong and Hen Ren, who all played junior golf in the United States, are young men on a mission to establish themselves on OneAsia.
Also aiming to reinforce their status as the future of golf in Southeast Asia are the promising Nicholas Fung from Malaysia and Filipino Jay Bayron.