Thai veteran stars Prayad Marksaeng and Thaworn Wiratchant will be aiming to extend their stranglehold on the Queen’s Cup next week and prove the old boys are still capable to compete against the young guns on the Asian Tour.
Sweet-swinging Prayad, 50, and the evergreen Thaworn, who is 49, have turned the Santiburi Samui Country Club pretty much into their private playground by winning the last four editions of the Queen’s Cup.
Despite being long in the tooth, Prayad triumphed in 2013 and last season for his ninth Asian Tour victory, the third most titles on Tour, while Thaworn was victorious in 2012 and 2014, wins which have helped make him the winningest player in Asia with 18 titles. The latter also won at Santiburi Samui at the 2008 Bangkok Airways Open.
The Asian Tour’s 10th leg of its 2016 season starts from June 16 to 19 and both Thai stalwarts will also be gunning to become the first player to win three Queen’s Cup titles.
“I’ve played at Santiburi Samui so many times already. I remember every angle of this course and I love playing there,” said Prayad, who has posted three top-15 finishes on the Asian Tour this season.
As he also plays on the senior circuit in Japan, Prayad, who holds winner’s exemptions on the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour, is prepared to keep slugging it out with the young guns on Tour.
“I don’t feel old from the age. I’ve got exemptions to play on Asian Tour and Japan Tour so I will still compete against young players for some time. I’ll try to keep my standard. I still gain good distances from my driver and it’s only my putting that I am working out a lot.
“My brain is still perfect. My imagination is still working (on the course). I still keep my routine both on and off the course.”
Thaworn is hoping a return to his favourite hunting ground will spark a resurgence in form, with only one top-20 to show for this year.
“I’m still struggling with my game … every aspect from driver to my putter. This has been the case since the beginning of the year. I’m not in form,” conceded Thaworn, who is also a former two-time Asian Tour number one.
“I’ve won twice at the Queen’s Cup and once when Bangkok Airways Open was there. Obviously, I like the golf course which is not too long for me.”
Like Prayad, Thaworn intends to keep going toe-to-toe against Asia’s emerging stars. He came close to a 19thvictory at last year’s inaugural Ho Tram Open in Vietnam, losing in a four-way play-off won by Spaniard Sergio Garcia.
“I’m going to be a senior golfer next year but I feel I still can beat the young players. I don’t feel much about my age. I won’t try to go against the young boys directly as I only concentrate on playing with the course. There are still venues that suit me. I love competition. Whether it’s a regular tour or senior tour event, wherever there is a tournament, I will play. This is my job,” said Thaworn.
The Queen’s Cup has attracted a stellar field which includes Korea’s Jeunghun Wang and Australian Scott Hend, both ranked in the top-five of the current Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
Over 30 Asian Tour winners with an accumulated 100 tournament victories will gather at the Santiburi Samui, which is located on the famous holiday isle of Samui.