Photo - Asian Tour
DAD’S THE WAY FOR CHINNARAT AT QUEEN’S CUP
Samui, Thailand: Title holder Chinnarat Phadungsil has brought his ‘secret weapon’ to the holiday isle of Samui as he prepares to successfully defend the Queen’s Cup starting on Thursday.
The 21-year-old Thai star has flown his father-cum-coach Anand out to the Santiburi Samui Country Club, venue of this week’s US$300,000 Asian Tour event, to watch over his game.
A powerful line-up of players spearheaded by Australian Andrew Dodt, Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat, Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka and big hitting Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who are all ranked in the top-10 of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, and British Open-bound Danny Chia of Malaysia will be looking to dethrone Chinnarat and snare the US$47,500 top prize.
As the tournament is revered by all Thais, Chinnarat is determined to cling on to his reign as the Queen’s Cup champion, which a putting tip from his father last year played a pivotal role.
“I feel very relaxed and there no stress at all. I will do my best and I hope to take home two consecutive wins at home,” said Chinnarat, who became the youngest winner in Asia when he won the 2005 Double A International in Bangkok.
“My dad is here to relax from his work but he will help me with my swing. He will follow me every day and I will rely on his support and advice. He is my mentor and one of the greatest supporters. My mother and my sister will also be coming this Friday to support me.”
Last year, Chinnarat claimed his third Asian Tour title with a stylish victory at the Queen’s Cup and revealed that his father, who does not travel often to events, had played a vital by offering him a new putting tip at the start of the week.
“The golf course this week is similar to last year but it is a bit more difficult around the greens as the rough is up. You’ll need to be solid with the approach shots,” he said.
While Chinnarat has the big “W” next to his name, countryman Kiradech is desperately looking to end his title drought. A bout of food poisoning which landed him in hospital for two days last week hampered his build-up but the burly Thai is hoping to live up to the old saying “Beware the Sick Golfer.”
“My energy level is about 80% right now. I would like to win the Queen’s Cup but I need to look after my body and pace myself,” said Kiradech, who was the first round leader last year before finishing eighth.
A former world junior champion, he has come close to winning on three occasions over the past 12 months and he likes his chances at the par-71 Santiburi Samui course, which is nicknamed the Samui Beast for its difficulty.
“I’ve played on this course over the past five years and I know it very well. I know the greens well,” said the 20-year-old.
Singapore’s Mardan, who has two top-five finishes at the Samui course, is relishing his chances at the Queen’s Cup. “I like this golf course and I know it well. My golf is feeling good and I’m hitting the ball solid. It’ll be a matter of hoping for a few putts to fall for things to be good this week,” said the 42-year-old, who is a two time winner on the Asian Tour.
Malaysia’s Chia is treating this week’s event with utmost importance as it will be his final tune-up before he heads to St Andrews for the British Open next month. “If I play well here, I’ll have a nice feeling going to St Andrews,” said Chia. “I’ve been spending some time to get the right shaft for my driver this week for the Open and will also try out a different ball. My game feels good right now,” he said.