The Venetian Macau Open will boast one of its strongest ever fields with seven Asian Tour Order of Merit champions, led by reigning number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat, and 18 of the top-20 ranked players headlining the prestigious event alongside marquee names Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez next week.
Australian big-hitter Scott Hend will defend his crown at the US$900,000 full-field Asian Tour tournament at the Macau Golf and Country Club from October 23 to 26 which will include past champions American Jason Knutzon, Chinese Taipei’s Chan Yih-shin and Australian David Gleeson.
Current Merit leader David Lipsky of the United States will tee up in his second Venetian Macau Open where he hopes to cement his position ahead of second-ranked Anirban Lahiri of India and Filipino veteran Antonio Lascuna, who has been one of the season’s revelations.
Thai great Thongchai Jaidee, the only man to win three Order of Merit crowns, will be one of the favourites to win the Venetian Macau Open following another superb season highlighted by a victory at the Nordea Masters in Sweden.
Ranked 41st in the world, Thongchai enjoyed a tied eighth finish at the majestic Macau Golf and Country Club two years ago and he will be eager to add the Venetian Macau Open to his impressive list of Asian Tour victories which currently stands at 13 titles.
Other former number Asian number ones in the fray include the evergreen Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, the Indian trailblazing trio Arjun Atwal, Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa, and China’s Liang Wen-chong, who will be hoping to emulate countryman Zhang Lian-wei’s double victory in Macau.
The 26-year-old Lipsky was triumphant in Switzerland last month which shot him up the Merit list. He will be fired up to make up for his missed cut appearance in his Macau debut two years ago.
“It was my last event in a seven-week stretch, so I’m looking forward to playing the event feeling refreshed and with a bit more focus,” said Lipsky. “I have to play well for the rest of the year to lock it (Order of Merit title) up but I’m in a good spot right now.”
Lahiri, victorious in Indonesia in April, will be aiming to repeat the fireworks from last year’s final round where he fired a course record equaling 62 to finish second behind Hend.
“That final round in Macau was fantastic. I remember playing on the last day with Arjun Atwal for the first time and it was really fun. I enjoyed myself and I played a good round. I’m looking forward to playing well again,” said the 27-year-old.
With an all-time high prize purse on offer, thanks to the support of The Venetian Macao®, Lahiri lauded the event’s growth where past winners include luminaries such as Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie.
“It’s exciting to see the growth of Venetian Macau Open. A few years back, we didn’t have the event and to have it back and to have it grow consistently, it’s a fantastic thing for the Asian Tour. It’s very positive for the Tour when you have a tournament that keeps growing in stature. It now attracts good players. Ernie is one of the main attractions because of his association with Venetian and the Asian Tour. As an event, it becomes one of those events that everybody wants to play in,” said Lahiri.
With a high-quality field assembling in Macau, Hend knows he must produce his “A” game to repeat as champion. “Hopefully I’ll be in form. I’m sure the golf course will be fantastic and Macau is a great place. It’ll be good to go back to courses where you’ve won before,” said Hend, who won three events on the Asian Tour last year to finish second on the Order of Merit.
Els, who is the Asian Tour’s International Ambassador and Honorary Member, will feature in his second Venetian Macau Open after finishing tied third last year. Els and The Venetian Macao have created a partnership. Els will wear The Venetian Macao logo on his right collar, back of hat and back yolk at the Venetian Macau Open.
“I am really excited to be coming back to Macau. I had a great time last year and the tournament was extremely well organised. The city is amazing with world class hospitality and entertainment,” said the four-time Major champion.
The Venetian Macau Open is jointly organised by Macau Sport Development Board of Macau SAR Government (MSDB) and Golf Association of Macau. It is sanctioned by both the Asian Tour and the Golf Association of Macau, and promoted by IMG. The Venetian Macao is the title sponsor of the event for a third successive year.
Sponsors joining The Venetian Macao in support of the tournament include Rolex, Air Macau, Blue Girl, Lamborghini and Hong Kong Descente, which carries both the Le Coq Sportif Golf Collection and Munsingwear.
For more details on the Venetian Macau Open, please visit www.thevenetianmacauopen.com