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Bandar Seri Begawan: Young gun Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand and former champion Wang Ter-chang of Chinese Taipei will be amongst the top contenders at the Brunei Open next week.
The US$300,000 Asian Tour event, which will be staged once again at the stunning Empire Hotel and Country Club from July 29 to August 1, has also attracted Danny Chia, the first Malaysian to play in all four rounds at the British Open last week, Chinese trailblazer Zhang Lian-wei, Filipino standout Juvic Pagunsan and reigning Hero Honda Indian Open champion C. Muniyappa.
Players from Chinese Taipei and Australia have long dominated the Brunei Open since the tournament’s inauguration in 2005 and Chinnarat will be determined to become the first Thai to etch his name onto the winner’s trophy.
As one of Asia’s brightest talents to emerge since his stunning victory at the 2005 Double A International Open on home soil which made him the youngest winner on Tour, Chinnarat is regarded as the future king of golf in Asia.
Chinnarat, already a three-time Asian Tour winner at the age of 21, has so far enjoyed two top-10s on the Asian Tour this season at the Air Bagan Myanmar Open and Queen’s Cup on home soil but it is a victory in Brunei which he is chasing after.
The power-packed Thai, who finished tied ninth in the 2008 Brunei Open, said: “I made many cuts this season and played quite well in the first two rounds but the final two rounds have been a disappointment. My overall game has been good but I need to improve on my long game, especially my driving.”
The sweet-swinging Pagunsan believes that a second Asian Tour title is long overdue and he will be banking on his recent surge in form to better his previous results at the sultanate where he finished tied third and equal fifth in 2006 and 2009 respectively.
“I changed my swing a few months back. I got my swing a little bit flatter on the back swing and it’s straighter now with my driver. It’s given me more accuracy and I’m starting to play more solid,” said Pagunsan, winner of the 2007 Pertamina Indonesia President Invitational.
India’s Rahil Gangjee is also enjoying a purple patch this year. He started the season strongly with two top-10s and two top-15s and is confident of improving his tied third place finish at the Brunei Open in 2006.
Gangjee, who won the 2004 Volkswagen Masters in China, knows a good result will push his standing on the Order of Merit where he currently lies in 13th place.
Many Asian Tour stars are eager to overcome the challenging conditions at the Empire Hotel and Country Club and Australia’s David Glesson is no different. He will be looking to overcome the disappointment of losing in a play-off to Chinese Taipei’s Wang in 2006.
Darren Beck of Australia will defend his title next week.

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