Thailand’s Varanyu Rattanaphiboonkij will be looking to reprise top form when he returns to his familiar stomping ground in bid for a successful title defence at the Singha Laguna Phuket Open, which starts on Thursday.
The 22-year-old Thai broke through in style last year after completing an impressive wire-to-wire victory to claim his maiden Asian Development Tour (ADT) title by six shots at the award-winning Laguna Golf Phuket.
Despite being sidelined by a back injury for close to three months since January, Varanyu remains optimistic as he looks to bank on the positive vibes to repeat his strong finish in 2018 at the THB 2,000,000 (approximately US$63,860) event, co-sanctioned by the ADT and the All Thailand Golf Tour (ATGT).
A stellar 144-men field, which features more than 30 ADT winners including Order of Merit champions Miguel Carballo of Argentina and Thailand’s Pannakorn Uthaipas, is set to converge at the event, which is celebrating its third consecutive edition on the ADT this season.
Varanyu enjoyed a career-best season yet on the region’s secondary circuit in 2018, claiming two wins in a span of six months to finish in third place on the Order of Merit which helped him secure his Asian Tour card for 2019. He became the only player to win twice on the ADT in 2018.
“I am very excited to be back playing on this course again. The course layout suits my game and I putt really well on these greens. My goal for this week is to get a good finish and hopefully retain my title,” said Varanyu, who turned professional in 2015.
The talented Thai, however, struggled to carry his superb form into 2019 as he had to battle against an acute hot disc which forced him into a three-month layoff from competitive golf in January.
“I didn’t have a good start to the season because of my back injury. It took me around three months since January to heal and I couldn’t play golf. I missed the cut in my first Asian Tour event in Bangladesh and then in Korea,” added Varanyu, who is hopeful of shaking off the rust by putting up a fine showing this week.
Other notable names in the field include Suttijet Kooratanapisan of Thailand, who recorded the first ever 59 on the ADT and the Asian Tour at the Laguna Golf Phuket two years ago, compatriots Pavit Tangkamolprasert, a six-time ADT winner and Order of Merit leader Itthipat Burantanyarat.