Kiradech eyes successful defence at SAIL-SBI open

New Delhi: Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat returns to the scene of his maiden Asian Tour victory, buoyed with confidence as he gets ready to defend his title at the SAIL-SBI Open which tees off on Wednesday.

Following another top-10 result last week, the defending champion believes he is capable of another grandstand finish at the Delhi Golf Club after a solid run of early season form.

“I’m really excited about coming back here to defend my title. This is my first time returning as the defending champion and I’ll do my best,” said Kiradech.

Kiradech narrowly missed out on his second win in Myanmar last month and was briefly in contention at the halfway stage at the Avantha Masters last week.

The Thai is relishing the challenge from the strong field this week and is hopeful that another win could be on the cards for him.

“I’m enjoying myself in India. I’ve gained a lot of confidence from last week and I’ve been putting really well, which is important,” said Kiradech.

Meanwhile India’s Manav Jaini is determined to make up for last year’s heartbreak where he missed out on his maiden title at the Delhi Golf Club.

The Indian was agonisingly close to winning his first Asian Tour title at the Panasonic Open India but fell short in the three-way play-off.

Having played in all four rounds at the Avantha Masters last week, Jaini is however upbeat about his chances as he will be teeing off on his home course where he has intimate knowledge.

“I was feeling a little low in confidence going into the competition last week. But having made the cut there and every time I come back to the Delhi Golf Club, I’m always feeling a lot better about my game,” said Jaini.

While confidence and form is important, Jaini also knows that he has to contend with the elements.

“The windy conditions are the toughest conditions at the Delhi Golf Club because of the nature of the golf course. The winds swirl a lot out here and you are always second guessing a lot. That’s going to make the golf course very tough to play,” said Jaini.

Chiragh Kumar, who burst into the scene when he charged into contention at the Hero Indian Open at the halfway stage only to finish second, is determined to bounce back to form.

“I haven’t been in the best of form the last few weeks and I’m hoping that things would change for me this week. I’ve been feeling frustrated with everything that has been going on with my game but I’m feeling better now and hopefully it’ll be a good week,” said Kumar.

Other regional stars set to contend for the SAIL-SBI Open title include Singapore’s Mardan Mamat, 12-time Asian Tour winner Thaworn Wiratchat of Thailand and Bangladeshi Siddikur, who has finished seventh and eighth on the Order of Merit in the past two seasons.

The history-maker from Dhaka who is the first Bangladeshi to win on the Asian Tour is eager to return to his winning ways and hopes that he can end his two-year title drought this week.

“Two years is a long time since my last win and I’m starting to get impatient. I’ve been playing well and hopefully this can be my week again,” said Siddikur, who finished second at the SAIL-SBI Open last year.

The SAIL-SBI Open is the second of the four events scheduled to be played in India on the Asian Tour this season.