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YOUNGSTERS READY TO SOAR AT BALLANTINE’S TAIWAN...

YOUNGSTERS READY TO SOAR AT BALLANTINE’S TAIWAN CHAMPIONSHIP

Taipei: The talented youngsters of the Asian Development Tour (ADT) will be out in full force at the Ballantine’s Taiwan Championship next week.

Highly rated Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, Malaysian Khor Kheng Hwai and Thailand’s Poosit Supupramai, who have an average of 20, will be aiming to secure a career first victory in the US$110,000 event, the second richest tournament on the ADT this season. 

They will face stern challenges from local favourite Hsu Chia-jen, who finished second in the tournament last season, Masaki Sakata of Japan, T.J. Kim of Korea and Filipino Artemio Murakami, a winner on the Asian Tour, at the Tong Hwa Golf and Country Club from August 25 to 28. Home hero Lin Wen-tang will be defending his title.

There will be plenty at stake as this year’s winner will earn a priceless ticket to the 2012 Ballantine’s Championship, a co-sanctioned Asian Tour and European Tour event in Korea. A win will also help stake a claim for an Asian Tour card which is reserved for the top-three finishers on the Order of Merit.

Tabuena, 16, has enjoyed his time in the limelight since earning his Asian Tour card at Qualifying School earlier this year while as an amateur. With an elusive Tour card in hand, the young Filipino turned professional in February and is now the youngest Asian Tour member. His Qualifying School success also earned him playing rights on the ADT, which is offering eight tournaments this year.

He has enjoyed some measure of success in the play-for-pay ranks, making two cuts on the Asian Tour while also enjoying a tied sixth placing at the Clearwater Masters on the ADT in Malaysia.

As the Ballantine’s Taiwan Championship will play a significant role in the ADT Order of Merit race, Tabuena is determined to finish in the top-three. 

“My goal is to be in the top-20 in every tournament. Obviously I plan to win one tournament on the ADT because it will give me a good opportunity to finish in the top three. Securing my Asian Tour card for next year is my top priority,” said Tabuena, who is currently 22nd on the Order of Merit. 

The 18-year-old Poosit, a runner-up in the 2008 Junior World Championship, hopes to join the illustrious cast of Thai stars on the Asian Tour. The Qualifying School graduate is playing in his third year as a professional and is determined to gain more experience on the ADT.

Malaysia’s Khor turned professional in 2008 and has relied on his country exemption status to earn playing opportunities on the Asian Tour where he has tasted very little success. But the formation of the ADT has given him a steady platform to improve his game. 

“Playing on the ADT and local events gives me a lot of confidence and makes me feel more comfortable. These tournaments have given me a little a bit more edge as compared to previous years,” said the 26-year-old.

Consistency has been his “Achilles Heel”, something which he hopes to overcome at the Ballantine’s Taiwan Championship.    

“I’ve not been consistent … it’s been one of my weak points. I haven’t been hitting enough of fairways. On average I will hit nine out of 14 fairways but the next day I will only hit three fairways. That’s a big point and factor in my result,” said Khor.

Photo - Asian Tour

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