Thongchai Chases Hat-Trick

Wed 17 Dec 2008

Thongchai Chases Hat-Trick

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Bangkok, December 17: Thongchai Jaidee will be hoping that good things come in threes when he starts as firm favourite to win the US$750,000 Volvo Masters of Asia starting on Thursday.


The Thai star will chase an unprecedented hat-trick of victories following triumphs in Vietnam and Cambodia over the past two weeks and also attempt to win a third Volvo title at the magnificent Thai Country Club.


The Asian Tour's season-ending event promises to be a thriller as India's Jeev Milkha Singh and title holder Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, two of the hottest players in world golf this year, will also tee up on the back of successful seasons.


Singh has triumphed four times globally, which included a famous win at the Barclays Singapore Open last month that helped him clinch the Asian Tour's Order of Merit crown.



He also became the Tour's first million-dollar man during a season by taking his earnings to US$1.4 million while Prayad has also enjoyed a terrific year with three titles in Japan.

With 62 of Asia's top-65 players, plus six amateurs, competing for this week's Volvo Masters of Asia title, Thongchai knows he has a fight on his hands if he is to become the first man to win three tournaments in a row in Asia.


"I'm feeling comfortable and my form is coming back. My putting had been bad all year and then I started putting cross-handed in the last two weeks and won both events. This is the last tournament of the year and it is very important. Every player wants to win here as it is like the major of the Asian Tour," said Thongchai, who triumphed in the tournament in 2003 and 2006.


"I will try to go for another win but in this game, you never know. We'll have to see who is in top form."


He singled out compatriot Prayad and Singh as his most likely challengers. "Prayad is in top form and Jeev has had another great year with so many wins," said Thongchai, who is a two-time Asian Tour number one.


Thongchai's stunning form coincided with the birth of his second son, Kittituch, on December 5, the King of Thailand's birthday.


"It's an auspicious day and I wanted to win for him and my family," said Thongchai.



Smooth-swinging Prayad has added incentive for a strong defence. Currently ranked 49th in the world, he must earn world ranking points this week to stay in the top-50 which will earn a return trip to the US Masters, the year's first major in April.


A week's rest at home has recharged his batteries after a long season but Prayad is determined to find the extra gear in his game to retain his Volvo Masters of Asia title.


"I'm feeling good. I only practiced last week and played one round of golf. I'm looking forward to this week as it's a really strong field," said Prayad. "I know that if I finish in the top-15 on Sunday, I've got a good chance to get back into the Masters."


Singh was proud to look back at his amazing year which also yielded wins in Europe and Japan. The celebrated Indian star, who turned 37on Monday, is looking to end his year on a high note despite a lack of practice.



"I haven't touched a club in a week," said Singh, who finished sixth in the 2006 Volvo Masters of Asia.



"I have been playing well this year, my game has been excellent and I rate this as the best year of my career so far. Coming into the Volvo Masters of Asia, I'm not very well prepared but let's see what happens.



"I'm going to give it 100 per cent, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I'm happy being here as Volvo has done so much for golf worldwide and I'm happy to support the Asian Tour and also receive my (Order of Merit) award on Sunday night."



Ends



For further information, please contact Asian Tour's Chuah Choo Chiang at tel:  +6.... Also visit www.asiantour.com for live scoring.



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 Carlsberg (Official Beer), ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider), Sofitel (Official Hotel), TIME and FORTUNE (Corporate Partner) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore's premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.