Reigning Order of Merit champion Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand is relishing the challenge of defending his title when he returns to Malaysia for the PGM Terengganu Championship, slated to take place from March 11 to 14 next week.
Pavit’s triumph in Terengganu last year sparked a superb run on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) where he recorded two more victories in the following two months which saw him earn playing rights on the Asian Tour for the remainder of the 2014 season and top the final merit rankings.
The talented Thai will face an elite field when he returns to the Resorts World Kijal which includes one-time Asian Tour winner Lam Chih Bing of Singapore, Indonesia’s George Gandranata as well as ADT champions Grant Jackson of England, American Brett Munson and James Byrne of Scotland.
Arie Irawan, the highest ranked Malaysian in the world, will spearhead the local charge alongside 2013 Order of Merit champion Nicholas Fung, one-time Asian Tour winner Ben Leong and Wilson Choo, who claimed a breakthrough victory on the ADT in Langkawi last month.
Pavit will be spurred on by memories of his final round heroics last year where he fired six birdies against a lone bogey to overturn a four-shot deficit and win by one shot over compatriot Pijit Petchkasem.
“Winning the PGM Terengganu Championship last year was a memorable one indeed. It was my first win last season. I played really well in the final round to win the tournament. I’ll be defending my title next week and it will also be my very first ADT event this season. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can play as well as I did last year,” said Pavit.
Pavit, a four-time ADT winner, believes his reign as the burgeoning Tour’s number one last year will give him the extra edge to excel on the Asian Tour this season.
“Winning the ADT Order of Merit last season has really given me lots of confidence playing against the region’s top golfers on the Asian Tour. My target is to finish top-60 on the Asian Tour’s merit rankings and keep my Tour card at the end of the season,” added the 25-year-old.
Pavit made the most of his success on the ADT as he continued his good form into the 2015 Asian Tour season where he made the halfway cut at the inaugural True Thailand Classic presented by Black Mountain, which was the young Thai’s debut on the European Tour.
“My game’s feeling pretty good at the moment. I had a top-five finish in a local tournament back home last week and I made the halfway cut at the Thailand Classic which was co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour. It was a great experience,” said Pavit.
Despite his successful exploits on the ADT, Pavit is expecting a tough title defence when he heads to the PGM Terengganu Championship next week.
“The playing standard on the ADT has improved a lot. It’s getting a lot tougher as there are many good players competing for the title out there. I see a lot of low scores from the first two ADT events this season. It is going to be a good challenge defending my title,” added Pavit.
Since it was inaugurated in 2010, the ADT has grown from five events in the first year to a record 21 tournaments in 2014. The ADT has announced a provisional 2015 schedule of a minimum 18 tournaments with several more to be announced in due course.
The ADT will continue to reward the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit at the end of this season with Asian Tour cards for 2016.
With the Olympic Games looming in 2016 where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, players in the region could earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro by earning Official World Golf Ranking points through the Asian Tour and ADT.
Arie, who won the ADT season-opener on home soil earlier in January, and Chinese Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang, who finished second on the ADT Order of Merit last season following three victories, are currently in the field for the Olympic Games based on this week’s rankings.
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