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HIGH STAKES FOR TOUR HOPEFULS AT BALI OPEN
Bali: Malaysia’s Akmal Tarmizee is preparing for the most important week of his young career when he competes in the inaugural Bali Open, the season-ending tournament on the Asian Development Tour which starts on Wednesday.
With the top-three finishers on the Order of Merit gaining playing rights on the Asian Tour next year, the US$60,000 Bali Open will be the last chance for the Tour hopefuls to make the jump into the big league.
The 20-year-old Akmal, who turned professional last July, is currently third on the rankings and naturally, he is feeling anxious with his precarious position.
With a top prize of US$10,500 on offer at the New Kuta Golf Club this week, up to the 12th ranked player, who is Takafumi Kawane of Japan, has a mathematical chance of breaking into the top-three provided the other contenders do not perform.
Indonesia’s prospect Rory Hie, currently ranked seventh, and 10th-ranked Malaysian Airil Rizman, who won the Pakistan Open in 2007 on the Asian Tour, is amongst those gunning for victory at the Bali Open.
Korea’s T.J. Kim, currently fourth on the list, and fifth-ranked Thanyakorn Khrongpha, winner of the Kariza Classic in Jakarta in September, will also be in the field and waiting to pounce should Akmal or second ranked Hsu Chia-jen of Chinese Taipei slip up.
Akmal, who finished tied second in the Negri Sembilan Masters Invitational in Malaysia in July, said: “I’m looking forward to it. There is a lot to play for in the Bali Open, especially for a new pro like me who is hoping to compete on the Asian Tour. The Asian Development Tour has been good for newcomers as it has allowed us to compete.
“I’m sure there will be some nerves during the week but I’ll have to handle it.”
Hie, 22, is hoping to rise to the challenge on home soil. “Any tournament in Indonesia that has the Asian Tour name on it is extremely important for me,” said the talented Indonesian.
“It’s a big goal for me to try to break into the top-three. That’s what I’m trying to do but I’m not going to put extra pressure on myself although I’m playing well now. My tee shots are 100 per cent better after working with a new coach (Andrew Argus) and I’m hitting fairways most of the time now instead of finding the trees.
“I played at New Kuta at the Indonesia Open last year and made the cut. You have to hit the fairways there which is good for me as I’m striking it good now.”
Although Airil will have several more Asian Tour events to salvage his card for next year, he is hoping to strike at the Bali Open.
“Winning this week is my only chance, provided the other two guys don’t make the cut. I’ll be going all out and I just want to play well. It’s tough course but I’m playing good. I’ve been working hard on my game but I have to play well to prove it,” said the Malaysian.
Two-time European Tour winner Miles Tunnicliff of England and talented Filipino Juvic Pagunsan, a winner on the Asian Tour, will also feature in the Bali Open.
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com