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Manila: Rookies Sujjan Singh of India, Thailand’s Thitiphun Chuayprakong and Berry Henson of the United States plan to stamp their mark on the Asian Tour with a victory at the ICTSI Philippine Open starting Thursday.

The trio have enjoyed solid runs on the Asian Tour so far but hope to go the extra mile by winning the US$300,000 showpiece at the venerable Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.

Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, last year’s Rookie of the Year where he won two titles, is testament to the success of the Tour debutants and will be among the elite field this week with Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat and Bangladeshi Siddikur.  

Defending champion Artemio Murakami will lead the local charge with former Philippine Open winners Frankie Minoza and Angelo Que. Sweet swinging Juvic Pagunsan and teen sensation Miguel Tabuena will also feature in the event.

India’s Singh enjoyed a strong start to his Asian Tour season when he finished in tied fifth place at the Avantha Masters on home soil but admits his form has taken a dip since then.

“I haven’t been scoring well but I’m not too worried about it. I have been experimenting with a few changes to my game and it has been working out,” said Singh, a talented drummer who has recorded more than eight albums in India.

Singh, a former state national squash champion, said the newly revamped Wack Wack Golf and Country Club will be a tough challenge this week.

“This is a very challenging course and you have to be precise off the tees and know exactly what you need to do. The course is a good test and at the end of the week, you are definitely going to be a better golfer!” smiled the Indian.

“My aim is to be patient because you need it on this course. With the wind up, you also have to stay focus. This course pretty much suits my game and I’m looking forward to the week,” said Singh. 

Henson won his first international title on the Asian Development Tour at the Clearwater Masters in Perak a fortnight ago and plans to carry his confidence in his debut appearance in the Philippines.

“I played very well in Clearwater and with the way I played, I would have probably won in any tournament. I had a week’s off after winning and I hope to continue to play like how I did two weeks ago,” said the 31-year-old.

Henson said playing on the Asian Tour’s secondary Tour has helped sharpened his game and his sentiments were echoed by countryman Jonathan Moore, who won the Impian Classic in Malaysia also on the Asian Development Tour last week.

“I haven’t quite played as well but I’m definitely putting better now after making some tweaks in my putting. I’m using my shoulders a bit more in my stroke and I’m trying to hit the ball in the middle of the greens,” said Moore, a former US Walker Cup team member.

“Playing on the Asian Development Tour helped me improve on what I was working on and it sets me up nicely for this week,” added the American.

Thitiphun, 18, enjoyed an experience of a lifetime when he played with world number one Lee Westwood in the last round of the Indonesian Masters last month.

The ever-smiling Thai believes the opportunity of playing with the world’s best player has shaped him into a better player.

“You don’t get many opportunities to play with the best in the game. I enjoyed my time playing with him (Westwood) and learned a lot from the experience which I will use this week,” said Thitiphun.

Asian Tour 

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