In-form Ajeetesh eyes more glory in Macao

Tee TimesOrder of Merit

Macao, October 18: India’s rising star Ajeetesh Sandhu will be aiming to continue his winning streak when he tees off for the first time in four years at the Macao Open on Thursday.

Ajeetesh Sandhu of India

Ajeetesh Sandhu of India

The 29-year-old Ajeetesh broke into the winner’s circle on the Asian Tour for the first time in Chinese Taipei a fortnight ago before going on to clinch another victory on the Japan Challenge Tour last week.

Ajeetesh’s double victories in two weeks has installed him as one of the title favourites at the US$500,000 full-field Asian Tour event held at the Macau Golf and Country Club.

He will be part of the strong 144-man field where no fewer than 39 Asian Tour winners, including five Order of Merit champions, will be in action at the Macao showpiece.

With his confidence soaring at an all-time high, Ajeetesh has also set sights on the 2018 EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM. A good showing this week will boost his Merit rankings and edge him closer to representing Team Asia, captained by his countryman Arjun Atwal.

Reigning Order of Merit champion Scott Hend of Australia will be bidding to become the first player to win the Macao Open three times when he gets his campaign underway alongside defending champion Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand and Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wei-chih on Thursday afternoon.

Thailand’s Poom Saksansin hopes to ride on his consistent form to better his result from last year where he finished in tied-13th position. The 24-year-old is enjoying his career-best season so far, having won his second Asian Tour title in August and claiming two other top-fives.

The four-day tournament is jointly organised by Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government (MSB) and the Golf Association of Macau. It is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, and promoted by IMG.

Entry to the 2017 Macao Open is free. For more information, please visit www.themacaoopen.com.

Scott Hend of Australia

Scott Hend of Australia

Did you know?

  • Ajeetesh won his maiden Asian Tour title at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Chinese Taipei, just a day before turning 29. He followed up that victory with another play-off win at the Taiheiyo Club Challenge Tournament on the Japan Challenge Tour.
  • Prior to his breakthrough in Chinese Taipei, Ajeetesh had won his third title on his domestic circuit and finished third at the TAKE Solutions Masters on home soil in August. He sits in 27th place on the current money list.
  • Ajeetesh turned professional in 2008. He is playing in his third attempt at the Macao Open this week. He last played the event in 2012 and 2013 where he made the halfway cuts in both attempts.
  • Hend had won the Macao Open in 2013 and 2015. Hend and China’s Zhang Lian-wei are the only two players to have won the prestigious tournament twice since its inauguration in 1998.
  • Hend is now 54-under-par at the Macau Golf and Country Club in the last four years.
  • Hend trails Order of Merit leader Gavin Green by about US$112,000 in third place.
  • Poom is making his fourth straight appearance at the Macao Open. He missed the cuts in 2014 and 2015 but enjoyed a tied-13th place finish in 2016.
  • Poom’s breakthrough came at the Indonesian Masters some 12 months ago. He secured his second win at the TAKE Solutions Masters in India and has secured two other top-five results so far this season. He sits in seventh place on the current Order of Merit and he is the highest ranked Thai player in the field this week.

Players quotes

Ajeetesh Sandhu of India

Ajeetesh Sandhu of India

Ajeetesh Sandhu (Ind)

The game is feeling pretty good as you can imagine. This is a course that I like. It’s narrow but I think it suits my game. I feel quite consistent so I am looking forward to the week.

The past two weeks has been pretty amazing. I didn’t expect to win back to back on different Tours. It takes care of a lot of things for me. I can just plan my schedule now and play whatever I feel like.

The course used to play a lot harder but this week, it’s different. It’s quite soft and I haven’t played in this windy condition before. It takes a bit of time to get used to but I have got two rounds in so I think I am ready to go for tomorrow.

I hope to play the best that I can this week. If I can do that, I should be up there on the leaderboard and contending for the title. That’s my target this week. I want to get off to a good start and play a few good rounds and then see how it goes.

The EurAsia Cup has crossed my mind now that I have won my first title on the Asian Tour. With Arjun Atwal being the captain for Team Asia, it will be an honour if I can qualify.

I was out of the reckoning until two weeks ago but now, I think I can have a shot at it, provided I play well towards the end of the season. The big tournaments are coming up so if I can play well, I should be close to making it.

Scott Hend of Australia

Scott Hend of Australia

Scott Hend (Aus)

This is a very challenging golf course. Mentally and physically, you have to be on song. It’s quite tricky with the wind but I like the challenge. I enjoy the comfort of Macao and I Iike the food and people here. I hope my game will improve this week. I sort of lost a bit of form lately but I’m trying to get it back before the tournament starts.

With the big events like WGC-HSBC Champions coming up next week, I do hope to see myself in contention come Sunday. We will see if I can do it. The course does look different to me this year. There are much lesser trees now compared to the past. Some of my usual aiming points have disappeared.

I am trying to re-learn where my lines are. It’s windier now without the trees too but the greens are in unbelievably good conditions and the course is looking really good. I think the golf course is going to play pretty nice this week.

Poom Saksansin of Thailand

Poom Saksansin of Thailand

Poom Saksansin (Tha)

I had a good experience playing my first PGA Tour event in Malaysia last week. I thought I played well but I just can’t seem to put together a good score. It was really exciting playing against some of the top players in the world. It’s a good chance to learn from these players.

The course is looking nice this week. A lot of trees are gone due to the typhoons earlier. The course is a little bit soft. I am in good form right now so I hope to maintain it and play well this week. Tee shots are very important on this course. You need to keep the ball in play and hit as many fairways as possible.

Ends.

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About Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government

Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government, under the capacity of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR Government, is a public organization of administration autonomy. The organization is responsible for the implementation of sport strategy and policy formulated by the Macao SAR Government. Its objective is to stimulate, encourage, and promote all kind of sports in Macao, also to create an essential condition for sport development.

For the development of competitive sports and ‘Sport for all’, Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government organizes various high level international sport competitions as well as recreational classes and thematic ‘Sport for all’ activities each year, in an endeavor to promote the international status of Macao, reinforce communication and co-operation with other countries and cites, enhance citizens’ quality of life and arouse their interest in sport, so as to accelerate and facilitate the enhancement of the level of sport in Macao.

For more information, please visit www.sport.gov.mo

About Golf Association of Macau

Founded in 2000, the Golf Association of Macau is a non-profit organization, with the mission to promote, support and ensure the quality, traditions and development of the game of golf in Macao.

With the mission to encourage and promote golf in Macao, it provides coaching, training and selection of the Macao teams for participation in international events at all levels, and promotes and runs appropriate international and domestic golfing events in Macao, which helps to represent Macao in the golfing world and be a member of appropriate regional and world governing bodies.

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