China’s Liu seeks memorable outing

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Young talent Liu Yan-wei of China plans to keep things simple in his pursuit for a career breakthrough at the US$300,000 Thailand Open, which gets underway on Thursday.

The 19-year-old Liu, only Chinese player in the elite field this week, is enjoying one of his best seasons so far, claiming one top-10 result on the Asian Tour in February and another tied-11th place finish on the European Tour last month.

Liu, ranked 556th on the latest Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), also enjoyed solid finishes on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), claiming two top-three results in three starts this season. He was placed at 1092ndposition at the start of the season.

Liu will be among the elite field contending for the prestigious title at the highly-acclaimed Thai Country Club, which has hosted Asian Tour events in the past.

He will feature in the storied event alongside former Order of Merit champions Scott Hend of Australia, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thaworn Wiratchant, American David Lipsky and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh.

The Thailand Open, one of the oldest National Championship in Asia, is returning onto the Asian Tour schedule following an eight-year lapse this week.

Did you know?

  • Liu is the only Chinese player in the field this week. He notched his first top-10 finish on the Asian Tour in Bangladesh earlier this year and enjoyed a tied-11th place result on the European Tour at the Shenzhen International last month.
  • Liu turned professional in 2015. He is making his second appearance in the Thailand Open but is playing at the Thai Country Club for the very first time.
  • Liu missed out on his full playing rights on the Asian Tour after failing to make the mark at the Qualifying School in January. He switched his focus onto the Asian Development Tour and claimed two top-three finishes in three starts so far this season.
  • Singh, one of the board members of the Tour, is a two-time Order of Merit champion on the Asian Tour in 2006 and 2008. In both years, he was crowned the Merit champion following the season-ending events at the Thai Country Club.
  • Kapur won his first Asian Tour title at the Thai Country Club in 2005 and was named the Rookie of the Year that season.
  • Kapur enjoyed a stellar amateur career where the main highlight was winning the 2002 Asian Games individual gold medal in Korea.
  • Kiradech, the 2013 Order of Merit champion, is chasing for a third Asian Tour title and first on home soil at the Thailand Open this week. He is also a three-time winner on the European Tour.
  • Kiradech is also aiming to become the fourth Thai player, following Suthep Meesawat (1991), Boonchu Ruangkit (1992 and 2004) and Prayad Marksaeng (2013) to win his National Championship.

Players’ Quotes:

Liu Yan-wei (Chn)

This course condition is pretty good. It’s been raining quite a bit so it was kind of wet out there. This is my first time playing on this course. I played in the pro-am today and it’s been great. It wasn’t really windy when I played but I think it will be tough when the wind picks up.

I am looking forward to the week ahead. I have been working hard on my game lately just to prepare myself for this week.

I had a good result on the European Tour in Shenzhen last month. It was my best ever result on the European Tour so it has given me a lot of confidence. I am pretty satisfied with my season so far. I have had some commendable results on the Asian Tour and the Asian Development Tour as well. It has been one of my best starts to a season so far in my career.

I have no specific targets this week. I just want to prepare well and play it to my best this week, just like how I would have done so for any other events.

Shiv Kapur (Ind)

It’s great to have the tournament back on the schedule. It’s a very prestigious event. It’s lovely to be back at the Thai Country Club. Before I went to Chinese Taipei for the Yeangder Heritage which I won last month, I actually came to the Thai Country Club to practise.

I think that gave me a lot of momentum going to Chinese Taipei. I must really thank the Thai Country Club for allowing me to practise here before flying to Chinese Taipei.

It’s a place that’s very special to my heart. My career started here, after I won my first Asian Tour title some 12 years ago.

The course is fantastic. This is one of the few courses that hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s such a great test of golf. All the players have nothing but praises for the course.

I couldn’t ask for more. It’s obviously a great feeling to come back to a course which you like and with a recent win in the bag. We have got a very strong field this week, with top local players like Kiradech and Prayad in the field. It’s not going to be an easy challenge although I won two weeks ago. It’s hard to win these days with so many good young players coming up.

You need to have a lot of luck if you want to win. It’s good to come into the week with some good form and playing on a course that suits my eyes. At the same time, looking at the field this week, I know I have to play my best to put myself in contention again this week.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)

I have decided to play in the Thailand Open because of the Asian Tour which has played an important role in my career. I have always wanted to win on this golf course. I remember walking this course 10 years ago and seeing how Prayad won a tournament here.

I’m really happy to see the Thailand Open back on the Asian Tour again. To be honest, I have always wanted to play in my National Open and I’m glad I have the opportunity to play now.

With the National Championship now being staged at the Thai Country Club, I have more reasons to come back and play here. It would mean a great deal if I can win. A lot of big names like Boonchu and Prayad have won the Thailand Open, I would love to be part of that elite list.

I will try to play well in front of my home crowd. They have been really supportive and they are one of the reasons why I decided to play in the Thailand Open.

Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind)

I am really impressed with the course. Full marks to the staff and management, course superintendent, as well as the General Manager of the Thai Country Club for doing up the golf course so nicely.

It’s rainy season now and they still made sure that the course is in excellent conditions for the tournament within such a short notice. I am really impressed.

It’s going to be a very low-scoring week because the rough is not up yet I think. You need hit good iron shots and putt well to score. I think it’ going to be a putting contest this week.

It’s always nice coming to Thailand. I was crowned the Asian Tour Order of Merit twice following the season-ending events held at the Thai Country Club in 2006 and 2008. It’s great to be back here. This place holds a lot of memories for me.

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