Els Seeks Short Cut to Victory

Wed 27 Mar 2013

Els Seeks Short Cut to Victory

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Chiangmai, Thailand, March 27: Four-time Major winner Ernie Els of South Africa will revert to the short putter at the inaugural US$750,000 Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT starting on Thursday as he seeks his first title of 2013.The reigning British Open champion headlines the full-field Asian Tour event alongside Asia’s first Major winner Y.E. Yang of Korea, New Zealand’s Michael Campbell and the region’s top players including last week’s winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thongchai Jaidee, Arnond Vongvanij, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri at the immaculate Alppine Golf Resort-Chiangmai.
Leading Japanese stars Tetsuji Hiratsuka, who has won nine times in Asia and Japan, Masanori Kobayashi, last season’s Rookie of the Year and Kenichi Kuboya are also tipped to contend in the newest event on the Asian Tour which is celebrating its milestone 10th season this year.

Els, nicknamed the Big Easy for his languid swing and easy-going nature, has been frustrated by his lack of success during the first quarter of the year. With the Masters Tournament looming, he is keen to get back into winning form.
“It’s been slow. I haven’t had good results but I’m practising quite a lot. I’ve played enough of mediocre golf so I’m looking forward to some good golf. It’ll be nice to start here,” said Els, who last played in Thailand in 2004.
With golf’s ruling bodies proposing a ban to the anchored style of putting, Els, who won the British Open with a belly putter last July, arrived in the northern city of Chiangmai with a short putter in his bag.
“I’ll be using the short putter. But even if I won here this week, I will use the belly putter at the Masters simply because the greens are so quick over there. But after the Masters, I’ll try to use the short putter more regularly,” said Els, who switched to the long putter at the end of 2011.
The globe-trotting Els will use the Chiangmai Golf Classic as his final tune-up for the season’s opening Major. He did not qualify for last year’s Masters after 18 straight appearances but hopes a return to Augusta National after a year’s gap will see him challenge for the coveted Green Jacket.
Els said he would take a more relaxed attitude to the Masters. “I think I used to put so much pressure on myself. And this year, I just want to enjoy it a bit more. I used to really try to win the tournament. I want to enjoy it and hopefully have my game there which I will have. I’m really looking forward to the Masters, especially missing it last year,” he said.
“My record in the Majors is quite good. But at the Masters, it hasn’t been good in the last 10 years. I finished second in 2004 and 2000. After ‘04, something mentally happened. I haven’t played well since ‘04 when (Phil) Mickelson made that putt (to win). But after missing it last year and going back again this year, it feels like a new beginning. I want to try to enjoy it a bit more.”
After last week’s heroics at the co-sanctioned Maybank Malaysian Open, big-hitting Kiradech, the current Order of Merit leader, reckons he has a good chance to maintain his red-hot form by winning for the second straight week at the Chiangmai Golf Classic.

“I’ll try to finish high. Maybe I can win two weeks in a row,” said the 23-year-old Kiradech, who has posted two other top-fives and qualified for the British Open this year.
“I’m still enjoying very good form. This golf course suits my game, suits long hitters. I was struggling for two years but now everything is good. I’m very happy to see a new Asian Tour event in Chiangmai. It is a big Asian Tour event and I’m very proud to be playing here,” he added.
The experienced Hiratsuka has been hampered by a long-term neck injury which saw him retire in Malaysia last week. However, he is hoping his past success in Thailand where he has won twice will lead to a good week.
“My neck is still giving me some problems, especially when I putt. I’ve been going for treatment with the physios and hopefully I can play well. The course is in really good condition but the greens will be the big challenge. I have done well in Thailand and hopefully I can do the same again this week,” said the 41-year-old.
Other top Asian Tour names in the elite field include Bangladeshi Siddikur, Sri Lankan newcomer Mithun Perera, Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand, Prom Meesawat, Prayad Marksaeng and Boonchu Ruangkit, China’s Hu Mu and Filipino Angelo Que.

The Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT is primed to extensively promote Chiangmai as a top golfing and tourist destination through the four days of live broadcasts on the Asian Tour’s global television platform, which reaches over 200 countries and 650 million homes.
The Chiangmai Golf Classic is supported by PTT Group Company Limited, one of the largest corporations in Thailand, while other premier sponsors include PTT Public Company Ltd, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Advanced Info Service Plc, Siam Commercial Bank PCL, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Provincial Government of Chiangmai, Chiangmai Provincial Administrative Organisation, CAT Telecom Public Company Ltd, TOT Public Company Ltd, Thai Airways International Public Company Ltd, Thai Beverage Public Company Limited, Samart I-mobile PCL , Loxley Wireless Co Ltd, Forth Corporation Public Company Ltd, J.R.W Utility Plc, Standard Tour Co Ltd, Advanced Information Technology Public Company Ltd, Fenix Apparel and Accessories Co Ltd and Sports Authority of Thailand.
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Canon (Official Imaging Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistic Partner), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf
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