Chiba Prefecture, Japan, September 19: Bangladeshi hero Siddikur Rahman will be looking to continue his good form in Japan when he tees off for the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup which starts on Thursday.
Siddikur enjoyed a top-10 finish in Japan earlier in April and is ready to challenge for top honours after taking time off last week.
The Bangladeshi hopes to reproduce that good form, shown earlier in the year in the Land of the Rising Sun, when the tournament gets underway at the Caledonian Golf Club from September 21 to 24.
Malaysia’s Ben Leong, who regained his Tour card at the Qualifying School in January, is looking to continue his resurgence following a tied-17th place finish in Korea last week.
Leong has made only three cuts in seven starts so far this season. Finishing inside the top-20 on all three occasions, the 31-year-old Malaysian will be seeking to improve on that when he tees up for his first competitive event in six years in Japan this week.
From losing his playing rights at the start of the season to putting himself on track to cap his finest season on Tour, Young Thai Jazz Janewattananond hopes to add another feather to his cap with a good showing in what is the Tour’s second stop in Japan this season.
The 21-year-old Thai, who lost his 2017 Tour card after finishing outside of top-60 on the 2016 Order of Merit, regained his playing rights in style when he claimed his maiden victory in Bangladesh in February. He has notched four other top-10 finishes since.
The ¥150 million (approximately US$1.37 million) event is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) and features other notable players such as K.T. Kim of Korea, Yuta Ikeda of Japan, Thai veteran Prayad Marksaeng, China’s Liang Wen-chong, Jeev Milkha Singh and S.S.P. Chawrasia of India.
Players will be looking to boost their Order of Merit rankings with good results at the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup. The leading 10 players on the money list as of October 9 will qualify for the lucrative CIMB Classic from October 12 to 15 while the top-four as of October 16 will tee up in the WGC-HSBC Championship from October 26 to 29.
Did you know?
- Siddikur enjoyed a tied-ninth finish in Japan earlier in April. It was his second top-10 result on the Asian Tour so far this season. He finished runner-up at his National Open in February.
- The 32-year-old Siddikur finished in tied-44th place at the 2016 Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup. He currently sits in 24th place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
- Siddikur is a two-time winner on the Asian Tour. He wrote a slice of history in 2010 when he became the first player from Bangladesh to win on the region’s premier Tour at the Brunei Open.
- Siddikur became the first sportsman from his country to qualify for the Olympics on merit in 2016 and was accorded the honour of being the flagbearer for Bangladesh during the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.
- Leong is a one-time winner on the Asian Tour but not since 2008. He claimed his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) win on home soil in March.
- Leong impressed with five consecutive titles on his domestic circuit before regaining his Asian Tour card at the 2017 Qualifying School in January where he came in fourth.
- Leong last played in Japan in 2011. A back injury in mid-2012 curtailed his burgeoning career, which laid him off competitive golf for over a year and a half.
- Jazz first played his way into the history books of the Asian Tour in 2010 when he became the youngest ever player to make the halfway cut at the 2010 Asian Tour International in Bangkok at the age of 14 years and 71 days.
- Jazz has enjoyed a superb season so far, claiming one victory and four other top-10 finishes to sit in seventh place on the Merit rankings. He also won a title on the MENA Golf Tour and earned a debut appearance on the PGA Tour earlier in May.
“I am still hopeful that a good result will be just around the corner for me so I am looking forward to this week. The season’s been pretty good. I had some good results on the Asian Tour and the European Tour this year. I’m riding on the confidence but there are still many more tournaments to go.” – Siddikur Rahman, 31
Siddikur Rahman (Ban)
I had a top-10 finish in Japan earlier this year so I feel good coming back here again. I had some good memories and I feel confident coming here although it’s a different course this week. I hope that will help me in my title challenge this week.
I played the course yesterday and I must say I really like it. I love the design and it’s in great conditions. I think you need to keep the ball in play on this course. You really need to keep the ball on the fairways and greens because the rough is really long here.
The game’s feeling great after I took a one-week break last week after coming back from Switzerland. I thought I played well in Switzerland although I didn’t make the cut.
I am still hopeful that a good result will be just around the corner for me so I am looking forward to this week. The season’s been pretty good. I had some good results on the Asian Tour and the European Tour this year. I’m riding on the confidence but there are still many more tournaments to go.
We will see how it goes. I am aiming to finish as high as I can on the Order of Merit at the end of the season. Of course, everyone will be eyeing the top-10 spots on the Order of Merit to qualify for the lucrative CIMB Classic and WGC-HSBC Champions next month.
I don’t want to think so much about that yet. I just want to enjoy my game. What will happen, happens. If I keep thinking about it, it will pile pressure on me so I will just do my best this week and stay relaxed, which is the most important.
Ben Leong (Mas)
The game’s feeling good. I played some pretty decent golf in Korea last week. I struggled a bit though but I started off well. It’s always a grind, especially in the final round. All in all, it’s been pretty positive. I am happy to be here in Japan and I am looking forward to this week.
It’s been a few years since I last played in Japan. I am excited to be back. Everything looks good here, the course, the food and the people. It’s always nice coming back to Japan. I just try to enjoy my golf this week and not think too much on the results.
It’s going to be just about hitting the fairways and the greens for me. I want to keep things simple. A good result this week could possibly get me into bigger events coming up but that’s all beyond my control. I will take it one step at a time. I can only do what I can do so we will see how it goes.
The season’s been pretty good for me I would say. No complaints but we still have a long way to go. There are still quite a number of tournaments coming up. The game feels good so hopefully I can play well enough to secure my card for next year.
Jazz Janewattananond (Tha)
It’s going to be a long stretch of events for me so I am working hard to keep up my good form. It’s been a great year for me. I should be able to qualify for the CIMB Classic if I can continue my good form.
Right now, I am hoping for another good result to break into top-four on the Order of Merit to earn my debut World Golf Championship appearance at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai next month.
To be honest, I never expect the year will turn out this good for me, especially after losing my Tour card last season. Right now, I just want to keep doing what I am doing and keep setting new goals for myself.
I believe that’s how I can improve my game. Having said that, I do need to play really well this week and the next few events coming up to qualify for the Shanghai showpiece. I will try my best.
From starting the year with no status on Tour to fighting for a spot in the WGC-HSBC Champions, I have no complaints for the season so far. I missed the cut in Switzerland and finished tie-50th in Korea last week but I will keep my spirits up because there’s still a long stretch of events coming up.
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