June 14, 2016: Title holder Scott Hend of Australia is aiming to become the first player to successfully defend the Queen’s Cup when the US$500,000 Asian Tour event starts on Thursday. After a decent run on the European Tour, Chawrasia is back in Asia this week for an assault on the Queen’s Cup
Long-hitting Hend, who is the reigning Asian Tour number one, will shoot for his 10th victory on the region’s premier Tour against a stellar line-up which includes eight of the top-10 players from the Order of Merit.
India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia, currently second on the Merit list, is amongst the top contenders assembled at Santiburi Samui Country Club, nicknamed the Beast of Samui, where he has an opportunity to take over top spot on the rankings. He needs to finish no lower than tied second with another golfer to dislodge American David Lipsky.
The Thai challenge will be carried by young rising stars Phachara Khongwatmai, Rattanon Wannasrichan and Jazz Janewattananond while veterans Prayad Marksaeng and Thaworn Wiratchant, who have each won the Queen’s Cup twice from between 2012 to 2015, will be ready to throw in their challenge at the par-71 venue which rewards straight shooting from the tee and a calm head on the shoulders.
Phachara, 18, is keen to emulate Jazz and Rattanon, who claimed their maiden Asian Tour victories this season in Bashundhara Bangladesh Open and the Thailand Open respectively.
With two runner-up finishes under his belt in what is turning out to be a breakout season, talented Malaysian prospect Gavin Green will be keen to celebrate a maiden Asian Tour title on the holiday isle of Samui weeks after fine-tuning his game with his coach in the United States.
The Queen’s Cup is celebrating its ninth edition this week with a record prize fund and is the 10th leg of the 2017 Asian Tour season. The tournament is supported by Bangkok Airways and Sports Authority of Thailand.
“This is a very nice place. I’ve played here the past few years and it’s a great place to be, with the beach and nice hotels. I like the golf course, so mentally I’m always refreshed. I’m not thinking about myself being the highest ranked player in the field. I’m just here to play the golf tournament and play my own game. If I started thinking too much, it’ll create the additional pressure on me.
This course fits my style of play. However, it’s very tricky and tough. The tee shot is going to be very important. It’s very tight on every single hole. You just have to hit it straight. When I first started on the Asian Tour in 2006, I think I finished eighth here (Bangkok Airways Open). I seem to play good here all the time, so I’m looking forward to it.
Obviously I’m thinking about the Order of Merit. I’m about US$30,000 behind David Lipsky and I’m here to try and catch him. That’s the main reason why I’m here. I’ve got a full chance to win the Order of Merit and I’ve planned my schedule to play a few more Asian Tour events in the second half of the season. After Switzerland, I’m going to play in Korea, Japan and Malaysia. It’s very important for me. If I can win the Order of Merit, obviously I will be very happy as a lot of top Indians have done it in the past. I want to give myself a chance as well to win it.” said,
Did you know
- After missing three straight cuts from between March to April, Hend has regained his form with a tied sixth finish at the recent Thailand Open being his best outing this season.
- Hend won the Queen’s Cup by one shot on 15-under-par 269 last year, the second lowest score in the tournament’s history. He shot rounds of 69, 69, 64 and 67. It was his second win of 2016 which enabled him to become the first Aussie to lift the prestigious Order of Merit crown.
- With nine career victories, Hend is the most successful international golfer on the Asian Tour and is the first Australian to win the Order of Merit with over US$1 million in earnings last season.
- Chawrasia successfully defended his Hero Indian Open title by seven shots in March for his sixth Asian Tour victory which helped move him up to second place on the Merit list with US$304,500.
- Chawrasia finished equal sixth in the Queen’s Cup in 2015. He was also tied eighth at Santiburi Samui in the 2006 Bangkok Airways Open. His lowest round here is 67 shot in 2015. He also finished tied 30th at the Nordea Masters in Sweden two weeks ago.
- Phachara is currently third on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, thanks to runner-up finishes at the SMBC Singapore Open and ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth.
- Phachara has played in the Queen’s Cup on three previous occasions, missing the halfway cut twice. He finished tied 27th at the Lyoness Open last week, closing with a 67 which should put him in good stead for this week.
- Green has also enjoyed two runner-up finishes this year at the Hero Indian Open and Yeangder Heritage in Chinese Taipei. He was tied 10th in his last tournament appearance at the Thailand Open.
- The 23-year-old Green finished tied 33rd in his lone Queen’s Cup appearance in 2015.