Xiao eyes home glory at the Asia-Pacific Classic

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Bowen Xiao of China hopes to rediscover his winning form by switching to a more competitive mindset at the US$300,000 Asia-Pacific Classic which tees off on Thursday.

The 28-year-old was recovering from a shoulder injury and he felt that he was adapting, rather than contending on the Asian Tour in the early part of this year. He has now put his woes behind him and is determined to put in a good performance at the St Andrews Golf Club.

Xiao earned his breakthrough victory on the Asian Tour in Xiamen last year and he’ll be looking to turn his season around on home soil at the Asia Pacific Classic, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the China Golf Association (CGA).

Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh will also be tweaking his approach in China. Last week, he felt that he may have over prepared for his National Open and put himself under too much pressure to win. The two-time Asian Tour champion is going to enjoy the process this week and he is optimistic about his chances at the Asia-Pacific Classic.

Asian Tour Qualifying School graduate Miguel Carballo of Argentina is enjoying an outstanding run in the Asian Development Tour (ADT), finishing in the top-10 four times in five starts. The 39-year-old is relishing his opportunity to compete on the Asian Tour and is looking forward to teeing off in China.

Apart from Carballo, top Qualifying School graduates to feature at the tournament include Shohei Hasegawa of Japan and Kurt Kitayama of the United States, who have both won on the ADT, as well as Ben Campbell of New Zealand, who finished tied-second in Bangladesh last week.

Other notable names in the field include the Thai trio of Prom Meesawat, Poom Saksansin and Rattanon Wannasrichan.

Did you know:

·       Bowen Xiao has never competed outside China before winning the Asian Golf Championship. He went to the Indonesian Masters in December 2017 for his first overseas tournament, where he finished tied-17th.

·       He is the third Chinese player, after Lianwei Zhang and Wenchong Liang, to win on the Asian Tour.

·       Xiao, a big Tiger Woods fan, is a self-taught golfer, which makes his victory at the Asian Golf Championship in Xiamen even more impressive.

·       Siddikur Rahman is a two-time Asian Tour winner. He won in 2010 in Brunei and 2013 in India.

·       He represented Bangladesh in golf at the 2016 Rio Olympics and was also the flag bearer for his country.

·       Siddikur enjoyed a four-shot victory on the ADT in January this year over recently crowned Bangladesh Open champion, Malcolm Kokocinski.

·       Miguel Carballo earned his Asian Tour card by virtue of his tied-20th finish at the Qualifying School.

·       He turned professional in 2002 and is a two-time winner on the Web.com Tour, as well as a one-time winner on the Challenge Tour.

·       Carballo came close to winning his maiden ADT title in Penang two weeks ago. He finished tied-second, two shots behind the champion, Nitithorn Thippong.

Players’ Quotes

Bowen Xiao (Chn)

I got to travel across Asia to compete after winning in Xiamen, which was fantastic for me. I have more opportunities to play, which is always great. But, what’s past is past. I’m now focusing on 2018.

In the first few tournaments that I played on the Asian Tour, I felt that my standards have elevated. But recently, the euphoria has died down and with that, my results haven’t been up to par. Now, I’m focused on rediscovering my form, making the weekend rounds at every tournament and retaining my Asian Tour card for next year.

I had a shoulder injury and at the same time, I was fine-tuning my swing. Perhaps, these are the reasons why I wasn’t performing well. Mentally, I felt that I was merely participating in the tournaments, instead of competing in them. I’ve switched my mindset and most definitely, I’m going to be even more focused going into Asian Tour tournaments like the Asia Pacific Classic.

I’ve played on this course when it hosted tournaments over the past two years and the experience will surely help me. The conditions have always been excellent. Good drives, and staying on the fairways are the keys to scoring well here. It gets tricky too if the wind picks up. This year, with the Asian Tour players competing, I’ll have to bring my “A” game to contend here in St Andrews.

Siddikur Rahman (Ban)

I was aiming to win my National Open last week, but unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way. My short game, which has always been my strong point, didn’t work too well. It wasn’t my week, but I’m not disappointed at all. I’m just looking ahead to future tournaments and learn from my mistakes.

Perhaps, I have put too much pressure on myself. I skipped the million dollar tournament in Korea in preparation for Bangladesh, and the pressure to do well may have bothered me. Furthermore, I know the breaks on the greens like the back of my hand, so when the ball didn’t go in, it really frustrated me and that probably affected my game.

This time, I’m going to enjoy the process and my game. So, I think that this week will be better than last week. I’m really excited and looking forward to the tournament.

The course has a good set up. It’s a little long for me, but the greens are soft. Which means, the ball will stay even with a long club. The course will be good fun.

Miguel Carballo (Arg)

This is my first time here in China and my second Asian Tour tournament after Bangladesh. The course is looking great! I’m grateful for the chance to be able to play on the main Tour.

I missed the cut last week, but this week will present a new opportunity and challenge, as the tournament is held in a different country and on a different golf course. Currently, I’m working on my chipping and putting, which hasn’t clicked for me recently. But overall, I’m feeling great and I can’t wait for the tournament to start.

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