Kiradech hogs limelight in outstanding front nine of 2013 Asian Tour season

Thu 09 May 2013

Kiradech hogs limelight in outstanding front nine of 2013 Asian Tour season

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Kuala Lumpur, May 9: The Asian Tour completed the first nine events of its milestone 2013 season with Thai ace Kiradech Aphibarnrat seizing pole position in the race to become the new Asian number one.
The burly Thai stole the show with a fine victory at the Maybank Malaysian Open in March, defeating a stellar field which included former world number one Luke Donald and 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel and also amassed three other top-five outings to lead the rankings with US$662,375.
Kiradech was one of two Thais who tasted success early in the year with countryman Chawalit Plaphol emerging victorious at the season-opening Zaykabar Myanmar Open as he picked up his fourth Asian Tour victory.
Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei
The experienced Lin Wen-tang ended a four-year drought as he won the inaugural Solaire Open in the Philippines, with his sixth career title making him the most successful golfer from Chinese Taipei.
India’s Anirban Lahiri established himself as one of the rising stars to watch as he captured his third victory at the Delhi Golf Club with a composed play-off victory over young countryman Rashid Khan at the SAIL-SBI Open.
The Solaire Open was amongst the two new tournaments which made their debuts on the Asian Tour, which is celebrating its 10th season this year following its launch as a player-led organisation in 2004.
The inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT was also a roaring success as big-hitting Scott Hend came charging from six shots behind on the last day to win the new tournament with a closing 64 at the expense of Thai veteran Prayad Marksaeng.
The close camaraderie amongst the golfers on the Asian Tour stood out as another Australian Wade Orsmby took Hend’s advice to heart by becoming the first first-time winner in 2013 when he prevailed at the Panasonic Open India despite a triple bogey in his last round.
Ormsby scribbled on his yardage book - “Stay Patient” - which was what Hend told him to do after being frustrated by the lack of results since plying his trade on the Asian Tour in 2012.
Brett Rumford made it three wins for the Aussies with a nervy play-off triumph at the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea when he eagled the first extra hole while Austrian rising star Bernd Wiesberger overcame reigning Open champion Ernie Els to win the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters, which received a huge boost with the title sponsor announcing during the week that it was extending its agreement until 2016.
Corporate Asia continued to throw its weight behind the Asian Tour, with Saxo Capital Markets signing up as the Official Statistics Partner while Canon came on board as the Official Imaging Partner. Resorts World Manila also signed a five-year agreement to title sponsor the US$750,000 Resorts World Manila Masters which will be held later in November.
Kiradech, who is dubbed Asia’s John Daly for his go-for-broke style of play, has been one of the revelations thus far in 2013. After starting the year with a third place finish in Myanmar and fourth at the Avantha Masters in India, the 23-year-old secured his second
Scott Hend of Australia Scott Hend of Australia
victory in style.
The Thai led from start to finish in the weather-shortened tournament and overcame fatigue due to a thyroid problem to earn a cool US$458,330. “I’m so happy. I’m proud of myself and for my family. I almost won here a few years ago (2010) and finally I made it,” said Kiradech, who joined  countrymen Thongchai Jaidee, Thaworn Wiratchant and Chapchai Nirat as a winner of a co-sanctioned tournament with the European Tour.
Kiradech credited the Asian Tour for providing him the launch pad for his game following a strong amateur career where he achieved the highest accolade by becoming the world junior champion.
“It’s the Tour where I was born. I’m 24 this year and I’ve got another 20 years to play. I’ll try to win as much as I can. I’ve three Tours to play on now (Asian Tour, Japan Tour, European Tour) and my focus will be to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit,” said Kiradech
India’s 25-year-old Gaganjeet Bhullar, currently second behind Kiradech on the Merit list, continued to show his growing maturity by challenging for the Avantha Masters title on home soil before finishing runner-up behind Thomas Aitken.
Countryman Lahiri cemented his status as one of the young stars to watch out for as he won for the third time at the expense of another upcoming Indian, Rashid Khan. His next goal now is to win outside of India.
“A lot of people ask me questions if I can play abroad and yes I feel I can win abroad as well. It is just a matter of the 72 holes coming together and some luck as well. I’m hoping to win outside of India this year but I won’t mind if I win in India again. Hopefully it will come,” said the 25-year-old.
The strong performances by Aussies have not been a surprise. At the Qualifying School in Thailand earlier this year, a total of 77 Australians teed up, making them the third largest contingent behind Japanese and Korean players.
Hend, who started his Asian Tour career in 2007 after a hand injury curtailed his career on the PGA Tour, won for the third time to take his career earnings in Asia to US$1.8 million.  “The Asian Tour has been a fantastic place for me to be in. This is the Tour in the region and in my eyes it is the only Tour in the region,” said Hend.
Anirban Lahiri of India Anirban Lahiri of India
“It is a fantastic breeding ground for the young players and the middle aged players such as myself. Everyone wants to come out and forge a good living and play in good tournaments and try to move to the next level. This is a great place to be and a place to play on,” added the Australian.
Ormsby concurred. “I love playing in Asia,” he said. “I’m 33-years-old and I see myself playing more on the Asian Tour. It’s a big Tour with lots of opportunities for players like us.”
The Asian Tour will resume in June with the staging of the Queen’s Cup in Samui, Thailand (June 13-16) followed by the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia (June 20-23).
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), 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