Yangon, February 10: Home heroes Zaw Moe and Kyi Hla Han tee off in the US$200,000 Myanmar Open on Thursday determined to end their country’s frustrating bid for a first title in the tournament.
Since the event’s inception in 1996, no local player has tasted success in the Myanmar Open and both Moe and Han, along with the promising Aung Win, are the nation’s best bets once again at Yangon Golf Club.
The local challenge, which includes the top-20 players from the local tour, will face some stiff resistance from an international field which includes Filipino ace Frankie Minoza, Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit and Thongchai Jaidee, both former winners of the Myanmar Open, defending champion Lin Keng-chi of Taiwan and Cheng Tze-chung, also from Taiwan.
For the Hong Kong-based Han, the Asian number one in 1999, he is counting on a fast start on the course that he grew up on to contend for the top prize of US$32,300. “Over the last two months, I’ve been playing all right. I’m feeling very relaxed mentally but I need to get some confidence into my game to really have a chance.
“I have to count on a good start on Thursday to get going here and the goal is to get into contention at the weekend. We’ve got one of the strongest fields this week, so it will be a real challenge to us,” said Han, whose best outing in the Myanmar Open was joint third in 2000.
Big-hitting Moe, who has plied his trade with great success in Japan for the past decade, is wielding new clubs this week and hopes it will drive him to what could be a famous home victory.
He has also overcome a finger injury sustained during the season break which forced him to withdraw from the second round of the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand a fortnight ago.
“The finger didn’t hurt so much in my practice round this morning,” said a relieved Moe. “I sprained the little finger on my right hand while carrying my bags a few months ago and it has been causing me pain when I hit the ball. It was quite bad in Thailand but it seems okay now. However, I’m not going to be practising a lot this week to avoid aggravating it.”
Moe, a former Singapore Open champion, said that one of the reasons why there has not been a local winner was due to the fact that the pressure to perform on home soil is tremendous.
“The pressure is so much different,” he conceded. “It is one of my goals to try and win this event and I’ll keep on trying.”
In recent years, the home-based Win has challenged for the crown much to the delight of the local fans. He raised loud cheers by finishing tied third last year while in 2002, he led midway through the final day before settling for tied sixth position.
About the Myanmar Open:
The Myanmar Open is celebrating its ninth year in 2004. Event sponsors include Rothmans of Pall Mall Myanmar Pte. Limited, co-sponsor Myanmar Airways International, Sedona Hotel Yangon, the official hotel of the Myanmar Open, Wilson, the official ball, and Grand Slam (Munsingwear), Inetol (Headwear Company), Canon (Accel International Co. Ltd.), Maruman (Kaung Myat Co. Ltd), Dagon Beer (Dagon Brewery Company Limited), MIMS LOGISTICS, Max Myanmar Co. Ltd., United Paints Group (UPG) and Alpine Purified Drinking Water (Loi Hein Co. Ltd.) as official suppliers.