Hiratsuka on Defence Mode

Wed 01 Feb 2012

Hiratsuka on Defence Mode

Yangon, February 1: Japanese star Tetsuji Hiratsuka hopes to start his season with a successful title defence at the Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Air Bagan starting on Thursday.

Hiratsuka, a four-time Asian Tour winner, will lead an elite cast of players comprising of 32 champions this week at the Royal Mingalardon Golf and Country Club.

He will be joined by 2010 Rookie of the Year Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, Daisuke Maruyama of Japan and India’s rising star Himmat Rai at the US$300,000 event, returning on the Asian Tour schedule after a one-year lapse.

Hiratsuka, who finished second on the Order of Merit last year courtesy of his victory at the Asia Pacific Panasonic Open in Japan, will be on the hunt for a fifth Asian Tour title to kick start his season.

“I’m very excited to be coming back to Myanmar to defend my title. I played very well at the end of last year and I hope I can continue that form. I might have won one title last year but honestly it was an up-and-down season because I injured my shoulder earlier in the year. I’m now 100% fit and ready to defend my title,” said the Japanese.

To escape the winter in Japan, Hiratsuka went to the Island of Guam to practise in hopes of defending the title he won in 2010. The Myanmar Open was not staged in 2011.

“I finished second on the Order of Merit and that was quite disappointing because I didn’t play that well earlier in the year. But this is a new season and I’m looking forward to the year. I’ll try and minimize my tournaments this year because I was quite tired as the season came to a close,” said Hiratsuka.

Karlberg started his Asian sojourn at the 2010 Myanmar Masters on the Asian Development Tour and will be looking to put his new swing technique to use after changing to a new coach three weeks ago.

“I switched to a new swing coach three weeks ago so I don’t have very high expectations this week. I need to know where my game is right now but I hope I can get a good start this week. The swing might just click so you never know what will happen,” said Karlberg.

India’s Rai hopes to emulate last year’s performance where he won in a five-man play-off that stretched over six holes at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic.

“It is nice to return to Myanmar. I’ve had a few weeks off at home with my coach where we did some changes to my short game and putting. It feels good now and I’m ready to start the season. It is nice to be back after the break,” said the 24-year-old.

Zaw Moe, a winner on the Asian Tour and Nay Bala Win Myint will carry the local challenge this week. Nay Bala said playing in the Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Air Bagan will be a boost for his career.

“This is my home ground and I’ve played here many times. I hope it will give me a slight advantage. I’m feeling nervous representing my country in such a big event but I’ll do my best. It is nice to be playing at home, the experience will definitely help me grow as a golfer,” he said.

A total of 144 players from over 25 countries will play at the Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Air Bagan this week.




About the Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Air Bagan
The Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Air Bagan is a US$300,000 full field Asian Tour event which will be staged at the highly-rated Royal Mingalardon Golf & Country Club from February 2-5, 2012 and is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Myanmar Professional Golf Association. Myanmar’s national championship will return to the Asian Tour Schedule after a year’s lapse. It was inaugurated in 1996 and the list of champions includes illustrious names such as three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, countryman Boonchu Ruangkit, American Anthony Kang, South African James Kingston, Chinese Taipei’s Lin Keng-chi and Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka who won the event in 2010. Sponsors include Zaykabar as the title sponsor and Air Bagan as the presenting sponsor. The other co-sponsors are A1 Construction Co. Ltd, Alpine Purified Drinking Water, Asia Metal Group of Companies, Srixon, Tiger Beer, Canon and 100Plus while the hole-in-one sponsors are the Zaykabar Group of Companies, CEO (Cost Effectiveness Oriented Group Co. Ltd) and
Aung Hein Min Co. Ltd (Sumitomo).About the Asian Tour

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 Rolex (Official Timekeeper), J.Lindeberg (Official Apparel Partner), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts), Cityneon (Official Event Overlay Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), BlackBerry (Official Smartphone and Tablet) and Srixon (Official Ball). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.