Top Thai stars ready to create an impression at Avantha Masters

New Delhi: A host of leading players from Thailand will attempt to create history by becoming the first Thai to win the Avantha Masters when the €1.8 million (approximately US$2.3 million) showpiece tees off at the Jaypee Greens Golf Course next week

Led by Thongchai Jaidee, a three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, the Thai contingent will also comprise of 12 other top stars from the Kingdom who have amassed a total of 31 victories on the region’s premier Tour.

Thailand will have the biggest representation from across all generations, after host nation India, at the Avantha Masters, which is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).

Notable names heading to Jaypee Greens include five-time Asian Tour winner Boonchu Ruangkit, highly regarded as the ‘godfather’ of Thai golf, Chinnarat Phadungsil, Thitiphun Chuayprakong, Prom Meesawat, Chapchai Nirat, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who topped the International Final Qualifying – Asia last week to earn his maiden appearance at the Open Championship, and current Order of Merit leader Chawalit Plaphol.

Thongchai, who has enjoyed a flying start to his 2013 campaign with three successive top-10s in South Africa and the Middle East, will be looking for his second win in India as his last win in the subcontinent came in the 2001 Indian Open.

“I’m looking forward to going back to India to compete at the Avantha Masters. I’ve been playing well since the start of the year and hoping my good form will translate into a win for me,” said Thongchai who is ranked 60th in the world.

Widely respected by his fellow professionals, Boonchu is one of Asia’s greatest ever players and golfing ambassadors. At 56, the Thai veteran proved he still has what it takes to stay in the upper echelons of the game when he finished 61st on the Order of Merit last season to earn his full playing rights for 2013, hence, earning an appearance at the Avantha Masters, which is India’s richest golf tournament.

“I’ve not played in the Avantha Masters previously so I’m looking forward to competing next week. It is also an Asian Tour event and I want to try to maintain my ranking on the Asian Tour,” said Boonchu.

Having set a new world record for 72-holes with his winning 32-under-par 256 total on Indian soil in 2009, Chapchai will be looking to extend his love affair with India when the Avantha Masters gets underway at a new venue next week.

“I’m looking forward to playing at Jaypee Greens as I’ve not been there before. I have had some success by winning in India previously and I look forward to a good week at the Avantha Masters,” said Chapchai.

“I finished tied 23rd and tied 11th in the last two years, so I’m looking forward to improving my results in the event. The tournament is also co-sanctioned with the European Tour and it would be nice to get a win again to add to my victory at the TCL Classic in China several years ago,” added the three-time Asian Tour winner.

Meanwhile Thitiphun is eager to build on the success of last year where one of the highlights of his season included finishing tied-second against a star-studded field in Bangkok.

“I’ve not played previously in this event, so I’m eager to see what it is like. The only problem is that I hurt my leg recently which causes some pain when I walk but it’s not overly bad. I want to keep improving on my Asian Tour ranking so I hope to achieve a strong result at the Avantha Masters,” said Thitiphun.

Fresh off his victory at the season-opening event in Myanmar last month, Chawalit will be hoping to extend his winning run at the Avantha Masters.

Chawalit finished tied-17th at the Avantha Masters last year but his early season form could prove timely as he locks horns with a star-studded field that include Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, Denmark’s Søren Kjeldsen and Frenchman Thomas Levet.

The Asian Tour, which is celebrating its milestone 10th season in 2013, will feature other top contenders including Singapore’s Mardan Mamat, a three-time Tour winner, Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg, Australia’s Scott Hend and Korean-American David Lipsky.

India’s top stars led by two-time Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Jeev Milkha Singh and multiple winners S.S.P. Chowrasia, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri will also headline the Avantha Masters.