ASIAN HEAVYWEIGHTS TARGET VICTORY AT WGC-HSBC CHAMPIONS
Shanghai: Asia’s top guns will head to the Middle Kingdom to take on the world’s best golfers at the WGC-HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club next week. Spearheading the region’s challenge will be Asian Tour’s honorary member K.J. Choi of Korea whose proud achievements on the global stage are also a reflection of the growing standards of golf in Asia.
India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, Asia’s number one in 2006 and 2008, will also relish the opportunity to stamp his mark at the only World Golf Championships event that is played outside of the United States.
The WGC-HSBC Champions will be played from Nov 3-6, 2011. Thailand will be well represented by 13-time Asian Tour winner Thongchai Jaidee, who will fly his country’s flag alongside Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Chinnarat Phadungsil.
Apart from challenging for top honours at the WGC-HSBC Champions which boasts a prize fund of US$7 million, the trio will also be hoping to do well so as to provide some cheer to their country following the massive floods that have created havoc in Thailand.
Since earning the honour as the Asian Tour’s first graduate to create an impact in the United States by winning eight titles including the Players Championship – dubbed the unofficial fifth Major, in May, Choi will head to Shanghai in good form.
The Korean strongman, who finished third and fourth at the US Masters in 2004 and 2010 respectively, has also made changes to his golf swing this season and the improvement was evident when he won his fourth Asian Tour title at his own tournament, the CJ Invitational a fortnight ago.
Choi will be hoping to emulate countryman and fellow Asian Tour honorary member Y.E. Yang, who produced a stunning victory in Sheshan in 2006 when he beat a field which included Tiger Woods.
While Singh is still recovering from a nagging back injury which has been affecting his performance all season, the Indian is confident he can regain the form that brought him six Asian Tour victories.
The tenacious Singh, who was previously a member of the PGA Tour before giving up his card earlier this year to concentrate playing in Asia and Europe, has shown his return to form with two tied-fourth finishes in Macau and Japan last month. A resurgent David Gleeson of Australia knows another good showing at the WGC-HSBC Champions will complete a year of comeback for him.
Gleeson earned his coveted spot at next week’s event when he ended his three-year title drought by winning his third Asian Tour title at the Hero Indian Open earlier this month. He was also the runner-up at the Macau Open presented by Cityneon last month.
After staring at a dismal run of five consecutive missed cuts at the start of the season, the 33-year-old is now back among the leaders in third place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
Other Asian Tour stars in the elite field include India’s S.S.P. Chowrasia who currently leads the Order of Merit, Bangladeshi trailblazer Siddikur, Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka, South Africa’s Jbe Kruger and Chinese Taipei’s Chan
Photo - Asian Tour
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