Chiba Prefecture, Japan, September 20: Thailand’s Tirawat Kaewsiribandit will be seeking to extend his good form when he tees off for his Japanese debut at the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup which starts on Thursday.
Fresh off a top-10 finish in Korea last week, the 27-year-old Tirawat is beaming with confidence as he aims for another good outing at the ¥150 million (approximately US$1.37 million) event held at the Caledonian Golf Club from September 21 to 24.
Tirawat, who regained his Asian Tour card at the Qualifying School earlier in January, has enjoyed a relatively good season so far. He finished tied-11th at the season-opener in Singapore and notched two top-10s prior to his campaign this week.
Like Tirawat, Thai veteran Prayad Marksaeng is also entering the week in fine form. The 51-year-old Prayad successfully defended his Japan Senior Open title last week which was his seventh victory and a third win this season on the Japan Senior Tour.
The evergreen Prayad, who has been playing regularly in Japan since 2008, notched one victory and two top-10s on the Asian Tour this season to sit in sixth place on the Order of Merit.
India’s Rashid Khan meanwhile hopes to turn the corner at the Japanese showpiece after enduring a dip in form which saw him making only one cut in his last five appearances on the Asian Tour. The 26-year-old Khan claimed a top-10 finish when he came in tied-sixth at the Queen’s Cup in June.
The Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO), will also feature other notable players such as K.T. Kim of Korea, Yuta Ikeda of Japan, China’s Liang Wen-chong, Jeev Milkha Singh and S.S.P. Chawrasia of India.
Did you know?
- Tirawat, who hails from Khon Kaen, missed only one cut in eight starts on the Asian Tour so far this season. He sits in 44th place on the current Order of Merit.
- Tirawat was the last man from the Asian Tour to qualify for the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup this week.
- Tirawat battled through a back injury to claim his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) win and a second victory as a professional in June. His breakthrough came on his local Tour last year.
- Tirawat had finished in tied-10th position at the TAKE Solutions Masters in India last month. He capped another tied-10th finish at the Shinhan Donghae Open in Korea last week.
- Tirawat turned professional in 2010 but only started plying his trade on the Asian Tour in 2014.
- Prayad is a former winner of the Diamond Cup in 2008. He has won a total of six titles on the JGTO prior to playing on the Senior Tour.
- Prayad became the second oldest winner on the Asian Tour at 50 years and 357 days when he claimed his 10th victory at the SMBC Singapore Open in January.
- Prayad is currently the third player after compatriots Thaworn Wiratchant (18) and Thongchai Jaidee (13) to hold the most number of wins on the Asian Tour.
- Khan is a two-time winner on the Asian Tour. He claimed his two titles in 2014. He sits in 32nd position on the current money list.
“This is my first time playing an Asian Tour event in Japan. I am really excited. I had a good finish in Korea last week and I am hoping to ride on that good form this week.” – Tirawat Kaewsiribandit, 27
Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (Tha)
This is my first time playing an Asian Tour event in Japan. I am really excited. I had a good finish in Korea last week and I am hoping to ride on that good form this week. I am very happy to get in to this event.
The course is playing good so far but the roughs are kind of long and the greens are not looking easy. You need the keep the ball in play. You need to keep hitting the fairways and greens if not it will be tough. The conditions are really good.
The season’s been pretty good for me so far. I came through the Qualifying School earlier this year, won my first Asian Development Tour (ADT) title in June and notched two top-10s on the Asian Tour in India and Korea prior to this week.
I guess the experiences that I have accumulated over the years have helped me to play well this year. Also, the confidence that I get after winning on the ADT. I seem to understand my game better as well. I will stick to the same mindset heading into the rest of the season.
The aim is to finish inside top-60 on the final Order of Merit to keep my card for next year. I need to keep up my good form to achieve that but having said that, I think I just have to keep doing what I have been doing and I should be on the right track.
Prayad Marksaeng (Tha)
The game’s feeling great at the moment. I am still very happy that I defended my title successfully at the Japan Senior Open, which is a Major tournament on the Senior Tour, last week. It was my seventh title on the Senior Tour and a third one this season.
I am hoping to ride on that good form for this week. I am just working on my putting now. I think that will be the key to score. Putting will be very important this week. You need to hit good tee shots and try and hit as many greens as possible.
I took a week of rest before the Japan Senior Open. This is my second tournament in a row so I am still feeling fresh for this week’s Diamond Cup. It’s my first time playing a tournament here so I am very excited. I hope to play well here.
Rashid Khan (Ind)
The game’s feeling way better now. I changed a few things and hopefully it works out well this week. I have been working on my putter and my irons. I had a new driver in the bag since a few months ago as well so it’s all looking very well now.
I walked the course on Monday and played my first practice round today. The course is in a good shape. The rough will make it challenging for us this week. If you can find the fairways then you just need the shorter clubs on some of the holes. Only a few long holes out there.
The season has not been that good so far but I just need to keep trying my best. That’s what I have been telling myself now. I believe just one good week will be enough for me to regain my good form and get back on track to playing well again.
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