Katayama has OneAsia’s Thailand Open in his sights

PATTAYA, Thailand— Charismatic and colourful Shingo Katayama of Japan is aiming to light up OneAsia’s Thailand Open this week with the freewheeling play that has won him 17.3 million dollars in his homeland.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 25 Aug 2010, 1:45 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:07 AM

Katayama, who has swapped his trademark Stetson for a less flamboyant pork pie hat, is up against one of the strongest fields assembled for the Thailand Open at Burapha Golf Club near Pattaya from Thursday.

Fifty-six Thais, including recent winners Thaworn Wiratchant and Chawalit Plaphol, will challenge for the richest prize in tournament golf in The Kingdom alongside China’s Liang Wenchong, who finished eighth in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, and last week’s champion on the Mercedes-Benz Tour, Mardan Mamat of Singapore.

The million-dollar prize money is 100,000 dollars more than the combined total purse of the three Asian circuit events in Thailand this year.

Katayama, Japan’s number one on five occasions and the winner of 26 events on the lucrative circuit, has been drawn with Chawalit and Mamat.

Chawalit, who possesses one of the smoothest swings in Asian golf, is on the comeback trail after a couple of years in the doldrums and has won twice on the Mercedes-Benz Tour this season.

Mamat’s play-off victory over Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul in the Mercedes-Benz Masters Malaysia was made all the more remarkable as the Singaporean is fasting during Ramadan.

Another group that will be closely watched features Liang, winner of the season-opening Luxehills Chengdu Open on OneAsia, former Asian number one Thaworn and Kiwi Michael Hendry, the stylish champion of the Indonesia Open presented by Enjoy Jakarta.

Liang, second behind Hendry in the Indonesia Open, is just 103,460 dollars behind leader Y. E. Yang of Korea on the OneAsia Order of Merit and a victory this week will see him leap-frog the Volvo China Open winner into top spot.

Only two Thai players — Suthep Meesawat (1991) and Boonchu Ruangkit (1992 and 2004) - have won their home Open and Thaworn dearly wants the prize that has eluded him during a glittering career.

“I would love to win my home Open,” said the 43-year-old Thaworn, who has won 11 times on the Asian circuit. “It is the tournament every Thai player wants to win as we are playing for the King’s Trophy.

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