Images from Asian Tour
Sentosa, February 4: Indian golf hero Jeev Milkha Singh and Chinese star Liang Wen-chong, both past Asian Tour Order of Merit champions, will spearhead a strong Asian challenge at the inaugural Avantha Masters in New Delhi next week.
The leading duo, who have a combined eight Asian Tour titles between them, will be among a strong line-up of stars to feature in the €1.5 million (approximately US$2.1 million) tri-sanctioned event between the Asian Tour, European Tour and Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).
Joining them at the DLF Golf and Country Club from February 11-14, 2010 are Thai duo Thaworn Wiratchant, who is an 11-time Asian Tour winner, and Chapchai Nirat, who is looking forward to a return to India after establishing a new world 72-hole scoring record with a stunning 32-under-par 256 last year.
C. Muniyappa, last season’s Hero Honda Indian Open champion, Marcus Both of Australia, winner of the 2009 Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open, and Filipino Angelo Que, the 2008 Philippine Open winner, will also be in the title mix.
Singh, who welcomed the arrival of his first child - a boy - last month, is hoping to make it a double celebration with a victory on home soil at the Avantha Masters.
“I am sure this is going to have a huge impact on my game, and I am sure it will be for the better. The arrival of the baby will surely give me some added motivation,” said Singh, who was Asia’s number one in 2006 and 2008.
Currently ranked 61st in the world, Singh will be aiming for victory at the Avantha Masters to boost his chances of breaking into the world’s top-50 by the end of March, which will be rewarded with an invitation to the Masters Tournament, the year’s first Major.
Singh was hit by injuries last year which forced him to withdraw from the British Open. But he believes he is now back to his best form and is determined to fight his way into contention in front of his home crowd.
“Injury is definitely the worst thing that can happen to an active sportsperson, but it is also something that you’ve got to expect and that is why my biggest resolution for 2010 is to try and stay fit and healthy,” said Singh.
Liang, the Order of Merit winner in 2007 and runner-up last year, is hoping to claim a second title in India having won the national Open in 2008.
“I gained a lot of experience last year and that’s the best thing that I can take back from 2009. Overall I was quite pleased with my performance last season (where he finished second on two occasions) and I hope to build on that.
“I have won many titles and will continue to strive for more victories in every tournament I play in,” said Liang.
The big-hitting Chapchai, a three-time winner in Asia, is also eyeing another magical season and he is banking on his meditation practice to increase his victory haul and better his eighth place finish on the Order of Merit last season.
“Meditation helps me to keep my focus and that helps in my overall game. I’ll do my best this season to climb higher (on the Order of Merit) than in 2009,” said Chapchai.