Thaworn Excited by Masters Invitation

Sat 12 Jan 2013

Thaworn Excited by Masters Invitation

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January 12: Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant, the reigning Asian Tour number one, was on cloud nine after receiving a special invitation to play in the Masters Tournament in April.
Along with Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, both players received exemptions from Augusta National Golf Club to compete in the year’s opening Major in Georgia, United States from April 11-14.
“I’m very happy with this good news,” said Thaworn. “When my manager informed me, I initially thought she was joking. I didn’t expect to receive an invitation and I was planning to work hard to break into the world’s top-50 (by end of March) to qualify for the Masters.”
Ranked 68th in the world, Thaworn wrote a slice of history on the Asian Tour last year by becoming the oldest player at the age of 45 years and 353 days to win the prestigious Order of Merit crown following a season which included three victories.
He will become the fourth Thai after Sukree Onsham, Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng to tee up at Augusta National but is hoping to become the first from his country to play in all four rounds.
“I’ll try to make the cut … that would be the goal. If I don’t make it, then I want to ensure that I had played my best. The players at the Masters are all good players and it is a very challenging golf course,” said Thaworn.
He hopes the Masters invitation will serve as an inspiration to other Asian Tour stars who dream of competing in the fabled tournament.
“This is good for me and certainly good for many other players who want to play in the Masters and the other Majors. If I can make it at my age, the younger players will have a chance as well,” he said.
As a Masters debutant, Thaworn knows he faces an uphill task to make a strong first impression.
“Every year, I watch the Masters on TV and I think to myself that it’s such a difficult golf course. I have spoken to Thongchai and Prayad about their experiences in the Masters previously and I will talk to them again to find out more about the golf course.
“From what I’ve seen, you have to be good in every department, especially around the greens which are very fast and tricky. I am sure it will be really challenging but I am looking forward to my first trip there,” said Thaworn.
Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, said in a statement on Friday: “The Masters has long established a tradition of supporting the global game, and we were excited to extend invitations to Thaworn Wiratchant and Ryo Ishikawa, who we hope will provide added interest and enthusiasm for golf in Asia through their participation in the tournament.”
Thaworn, who also won the Order of Merit in 2005, will be making his second Major appearance of his career, having finished tied 31stat the British Open in 2006. He also holds the Asian Tour record for most career victories with 15 titles.
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han said: “The Asian Tour would like to thank Augusta National for extending an invitation to Thaworn to compete in the Masters Tournament in April.
“Thaworn enjoyed a truly remarkable year last season when he won three times en route to becoming the oldest winner of our Order of Merit and I am sure he will represent the Asian Tour proudly in the Masters.
“He has been a source of inspiration to our members throughout his illustrious career and I am confident he will play well at Augusta National. I am sure he will cherish this opportunity to compete in the Masters.”
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 Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications 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.