panasonic.openFilipino rising star Miguel Tabuena plans to adopt a safe approach when he tees up at the inaugural Panasonic Open Golf Championship which will get underway at the Chiba Country Club on Thursday.

The 21-year-old Tabuena is enjoying a good run of form which he hopes will continue at the 150 million Yen (approximately US$1.27 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.

Thanks to a solid display of ball striking and a hot putter, Tabuena has enjoyed two top-five results and he currently occupies second position on the Asian Tour Order of Merit,trailing leader Marcus Fraser of Australia by slightly over US$200,000.

After finishing fourth at the season-opening SMBC Singapore Open and sharing second place in Malaysia in February, Tabuena plans to launch another title assault without being too aggressive this week.

“My game is good. It is almost dangerous because I’m hitting the ball so well and I can target any pin but it can backfire on you because there are times when you need to play it safe. You can’t be aggressive all the time,” said Tabuena.

“I’ve played well in the big events this year and once you do well in those events, it feels that you can play anywhere. I’m really confident with my game and hopefully it shows up this week,” added the Filipino, who won his National Open in December last year.

Tabuena injured his back while exercising three weeks ago but he knows it will not be a cause for concern.

“I was playing in a local event and I had to pull out. I was up there on the leaderboard but I didn’t want to force myself to go on because I had to prepare for this event. I’m fully recovered and I’m ready to go,” he said.

Tabuena will be joined by an in-form K.T. Kim of Korea, who won in Japan last week, Merit leader Fraser, Chiragh Kumar of India, who won his first Asian Tour title at the Panasonic Open India last year and Shaun Norris of South Africa, winner of the Leopalace21 Myanmar Open, which was also sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour in February.

Siddikur Rahman, a two-time Asian Tour winner, enjoyed a victory on home soil two weeks ago which was a huge confidence booster for the Bangladeshi who has been struggling with a back injury in the last two seasons.

“The win has really helped me gain more confidence. It was a great week. I hope to utilize that confidence for this week. I’ve been struggling in the last two years. I wanted to win a tournament and it finally happened.

“Mentally and physically, I’m feeling good. After the win, my confidence is high. I’m not 100% recovered yet. It will take time but I’m trying to stay positive. I’ve been working hard on and off the course so hopefully I will be back to my best soon,” said Siddikur.

Kumar, who was part of the Indian team which won the silver medal in the 2006 Doha Asian Games, finished a career high of 14th place on the Order of Merit last season, highlighted by his first Asian Tour victory at the Panasonic Open India. He is now aiming for a first win outside of India.

“Panasonic is the lucky tournament for me. Japan is always great. It will be awesome to play well in Japan. I love the way the courses are and the tournaments are organized so well. It is great to be here.

“Once you finish on a certain position on the Order of Merit, you want to better it. That’s the idea and the goal this year. I’m looking forward to playing well in the big events including this one and improve on my world rankings,” said Kumar.

For more information, please visit 

- Advertisement -