Yang predicts strong Asian challenge

Wed 17 Jul 2013

Yang predicts strong Asian challenge

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Muirfield, July 17: Korean star Y.E. Yang, Asia’s first Major champion, believes there is a good chance for an Asian to win The Open Championship if the weather at Muirfield stays calm.
Calm weather is expected for the week but it can easily turn as it did in 2002 at Muirfield when Tiger Woods shot an 81 for his worst-ever score as a professional.
Yang, who made history when he broke through the Major barrier by winning the 2009 PGA Championship, believes there is a small window of opportunity for the Asians including himself, to clinch the year’s third Major championship.
K.J. Choi, who like Yang is an Asian Tour honorary member, Shiv Kapur, the only Indian in the elite field, Kim Hyung-sung of Korea and Thai trio Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thongchai Jaidee and Thaworn Wiratchant will join Yang’s search for Major glory this week.
“This is the best condition for Asian players. It isn’t very cold and the course is not so difficult. This week, Asian players will have a good chance to win. I’ll try my best to give as well,” said Yang.
The 41-year-old Yang has not hit top gear this season but he is determined to turn the corner in his quest to lift the Claret Jug.
“My game is getting better compared to the last couple of weeks. I’ve had good practice and my swing and condition feel good. Every player has his up-and-downs. I’ve had some problems with my swing mechanism and these sort of things happen.
“I feel a bit more comfortable now so I think my game is getting better,” said Yang, who has two top-20 results on the US PGA Tour this year.
Choi, an eight-time PGA Tour champion but not since 2011, said the Asians will need to put on their thinking caps to negotiate their way around the challenging Muirfield course.
“Obviously the courses in Asia are different. Distance control here is very difficult. I feel that the Asian players need to concentrate more around the greens here. The Asians have definitely improved and I can see that their getting better in their game,” said Choi.
“If you have less wind then anybody has a chance to win. You need to have accurate drives here and avoid the bunkers. Greenside bunkers are okay but Asians need to really focus on how to play on the golf course,” he added.
Current Order of Merit leader Kiradech, who won the Maybank Malaysian Open in March, was delighted to have Thai legends Thongchai and Thaworn for company in his Major debut.
“It is nice to be in my first Major with two other great Thai players. Thongchai Jaidee has given me a lot of advice on how to play in the wind. He gave me an idea on how to play here which is good,” said Kiradech.
“You feel more comfortable when you have two Thais in the field. You get to play in practice rounds together and it just gives you a sense of comfort. I can’t say that I will win but I want to play my best game, focus on my shots and play against the golf course,” he added.
Kapur, who played a practice round with Sir Nick Faldo on Monday, is prepared to shoulder the sole Indian challenge.
“It is nice to have some Indian representation here. I think we got a really strong bunch of players at the moment and it won’t be long before we have three or four of us (Indians) playing in the Majors just like Thailand,” said Kapur.
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han said, “The Asian Tour celebrates its milestone 10th season this year and in our 10 year vision, we outlined that the Asian Tour will produce at least three winners at golf’s Majors by 2023.
“I believe that this is achievable because our players have grown in stature and ability over the years through their exposure on the Asian Tour and we look forward to them challenging for The Open title this year.”
Ends.
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), Canon (Official Imaging Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), SAXO Capital Markets (Official Statistics 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.