Excitement in the Land of Rising Sun is expected to reach fever pitch when the best players from the Asian Tour arrive in Japan for the Asia-Pacific Open Golf ChampionshipDiamond Cup in a fortnight’s time.
Sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour, the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup boasts a lucrative prize fund of 150 million Yen (approximately US$1.5 million) and will welcome the region’s elites to the Ohtone Country Club in Ibaraki Prefecture from September 25 to 28, 2014.
Reigning Order of Merit champion Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand will be back in action following a short lay-off due to a lingering knee injury.
“I just have to pace myself and try not over-exert. I’ll take each round as it comes and hopefully the confidence will return with every good score,” said Kiradech.
“There’s no need for an operation on my knee but I just have to undergo a strict treatment and physiotherapy program. I’m on a recovery mode and I’m confident the form and results will return very soon,” said the former world junior champion.
Although Kiradech has managed only one top-10 in the first half of the season, the big Thai is determined to put up a performance worthy of his status as Asia’s reigning number one.
“It’s a strong field in Japan but I’ve won against a similar quality before. Anything can happen on the golf course,” said Kiradech, who lifted his second Asian Tour title at the co-sanctioned Maybank Malaysian Open last year.
All eyes will also be China’s Liang Wen-chong as he makes another attempt in winning the coveted Diamond Cup after a tied-fourth finish in last year’s edition.
Liang made headlines when he became the first mainland Chinese to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit title in 2007 and his return to the Asian Tour will be greeted by his legion of fans keen on watching him go up against the best players from the Asian Tour and Japan.
A good showing by Liang will also do wonders for his confidence as he goes on to defend his Resort World Manila Masters title in November.
Meanwhile Asia’s sole Major champion, Y.E. Yang of Korea, will be hoping for a solid result at the Diamond Cup to jumpstart his career again.
The Asian Tour honorary member is fondly remembered for being the only the Asian to win a Major after he defeated Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship in 2009.
While it is a record that still stands today, the Korean is looking to revive his fortunes lest he becomes another forgotten man in golf.
“There have been a lot of things going on with me over the past year. I’m trying to sort things out and it’s getting better. Hopefully I can turn it around in the next couple of months,” said Yang.
Other Asian Tour stalwarts set to feature at the Diamond Cup include current Order of Merit leader David Lipsky, who became the first player from the Asian Tour to win the co-sanctioned Omega European Masters, which is the only event to be held on European soil as well as Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung who earned his place by finishing inside the top-60 on the money list last season.
The Diamond Cup is one of the oldest tournaments in Japan dating back to 1969. Now known as the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup, the prestigious event has also been elevated to regional Open Championship status following an agreement between the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation and the Japan Golf Association.
The event continues to receive strong backing from Mitsubishi Corporation and Kansai Telecasting Corporation.
The Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup is owned by Mitsubishi Corporations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation and Japan Golf Association.