Image from Asian Tour
PRAYAD PLANS TO FLY HIGH AT AIR BAGAN MYANMAR OPEN
Thai star Prayad Marksaeng is eyeing a return to his best form and jump-start his stuttering 2010 season by winning the Air Bagan Myanmar Open presented by IBTC from April 8 to 11.
The smooth-swinging Prayad, who holds six career victories on the Asian Tour but has not won since the end of 2007, is determined to reignite his season at the Pun Hlaing Golf Club as Myanmar celebrates the return of its national Open after a four-year lapse.
Last year, Prayad began his season strongly with three top-10s, two of which were back-to-back runner-up finishes in Malaysia and Thailand, which pushed him into the world’s top-50.
In stark contrast, the likeable Thai has missed the halfway cut in his opening two tournaments on the Asian Tour this year but he will be looking to make amends in Myanmar.
Prayad will be joined by a star studded line-up comprising of compatriots Thaworn Wiratchant, an 11-time Asian Tour winner, and Chapchai Nirat, Indian duo C. Muniyappa and Gaganjeet Bhullar and Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wen-teh at the US$300,000 full field event. Current number one, Andrew Dodt of Australia, is also in the elite field.
Prayad said: “I’m looking forward to playing in the Air Bagan Myanmar Open next month. It has been a while since the tournament was last played and it’s certainly great news to have it back onto the Asian Tour Schedule. I’ll be aiming to win the tournament.”
It will be a happy return to Myanmar for Prayad who has enjoyed a considerable amount of success where he finished tied ninth and 13th in the Myanmar Open in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
Muniyappa, who was inspirational with his rags-to-riches Asian Tour victory on home soil last season, will also be in the elite field. Voted as Rookie of the Year in 2009, Muniyappa will tee up for the first time in the Golden Land.
“I have learned a lot from playing in Asian Tour events overseas and it has given me a lot of confidence. I always try to do my best at every tournament and I hope to find my form again,” said Muniyappa, who developed his golf swing by watching golf members at the Karnataka Golf Association golf course.
The evergreen Lu will also be inspired to give the Asian Tour young guns a run for their money. Lu, who turned 47 in February, is hoping the experience of playing in the Myanmar Open will take precedence over his younger opponents. With five Asian Tour titles under his belt, he will be aiming to improve on his fifth place finish in the Myanmar Open in 2005.
Fresh from qualifying for his third British Open appearance, Malaysia’s Danny Chia is determined to chalk a good result in the Myanmar Open with hopes that it will prepare him for his Major campaign in July.
“I’m more confident and believe I can turn my season around after qualifying for the British Open. I have been struggling with my irons for the past few tournaments but it is slowly improving. I think that will be the key for the rest of my season,” said Chia, who finished tied 33rd the last time Myanmar hosted the Open in 2005.
The Myanmar Open was inaugurated in 1996 and the list of champions includes illustrious names such as three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, countryman Boonchu Ruangkit, American Anthony Kang, South African James Kingston and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Keng-chi.