Photo - Asian Tour
ASIAN TOUR CONTINGENT PLANS RAID AT US OPEN
Kuala Lumpur: Korea’s Yang Yong-eun, Asia’s first Major champion, and the region’s reigning number one Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand will spearhead a formidable line-up of Asian Tour stars at this week’s US Open.
A total of 11 Asian Tour members will shoot for glory in the year’s second Major and after Yang’s historic triumph at the US PGA Championship last season, there is now a growing sense of confidence that more Major success can be attained by the region’s players.
Korean teenage phenom Noh Seung-yul, currently second on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, countryman K.J. Choi, India’s Arjun Atwal, Japanese duo Azuma Yano and Hiroyuki Fujita, Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg, Australian Terry Pilkadaris, in-form Rhys Davies of Wales and Fijian star Vijay Singh will also fly the Asian Tour flag at Pebble Beach starting on Thursday.
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han said: “Yang’s brilliant victory at the PGA Championship was a boon for golf in Asia and he has reinforced the self belief within our players that they can be just as successful in Major championships.
“There is a big representation of Asian Tour members at the US Open this week and we are confident they will compete well to show the golfing world that Asian golf has truly come of age.”
Yang, widely known as Y.E. by his peers, and Choi flexed their muscles in the first Major of the year during the Masters Tournament in April with top-eight finishes.
All eyes will also be on 19-year-old Noh, who will make his Major debut after earning his place in the elite field through sectional qualifying last week. The supremely talented Noh is already a two-time winner on the Asian Tour and has been rated highly by Choi, who lost to the youngster by one stroke in the Maybank Malaysian Open in March.
Thongchai, the first man to win three Order of Merit crowns, will also be eager to stamp his mark on the Major stage after bowing out of the Masters through injury.
The former Thai paratrooper has come a long way in his illustrious career after becoming the first Thai to qualify and play in all four rounds of the US Open in 2001. With 12 victories under his belt, Thongchai intends to improve on his personal record at the Majors after finishing a creditable 13th at the British Open last July.
Atwal, Asia’s number one in 2003, will also be a man on a mission and will be buoyed by his recent run of good form with three straight top-20s, including a tied seventh at the Byron Nelson Championship.