Golfer Thongchai eyes Maybank title

Kuala Lumpur, Feb 16 (IANS) Veteran Thai star Thongchai Jaidee believes his best years are still to come as he takes aim at the inaugural $3 million Maybank Championship Malaysia which starts at the Royal Selangor Golf Club here on Thursday.

The 46-year-old Thongchai, ranked 33rd in the world, has made it clear that he intends to win this week’s trophy despite the presence of 10 other top-60 golfers in the field, including Danny Willett and Louis Oosthuizen.

Former Asian Tour Order of Merit champions David Lipsky of the United States, Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and Jeev Milkha Singh of India will also feature in the newest event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

Thongchai, the only player to win three Asian Tour Order of Merit crowns, said he is still focussed on winning tournaments and qualifying for the Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro later this year.

“I don’t worry about my age. My age is not that important. I always look ahead and I always try to win as many tournaments as I can. I like golf. My life is golf. Without golf, my life is nothing. If I lose or win, it doesn’t matter because I always enjoy playing golf,” Thongchai said.

“It is my dream to play in the Olympics. I think this is a good time for me to play. If I can play in the Olympics it will be very good for my career and for my country,” he added.

After shooting eight birdies in the pro-am at Royal Selangor on Tuesday, Thongchai is confident he can shoot low numbers when the tournament starts.

“I’m very excited to see the golf course. It is in fantastic shape. It is an old golf course with a lot of big trees and you have to keep the ball in play. It is nice to be playing in a new event. There are a lot of strong players this week and it feels nice to be here,” said Thongchai.

Meanwhile, Philippines youngster Miguel Tabuena hopes to continue his hot form after finishing tied fourth in Singapore three weeks ago and winning a local event last week. After claiming a breakthrough Asian Tour victory on home soil in December, Tabuena is determined to taste success again.

“This is my best start to the year as a professional. But I won’t take this for granted because it only means I have to work harder. I’ve gotten this far and there is no time to relax. The main goal is to get into the Olympics. This week is a good week to do it,” the 21-year-old said.

“I don’t have to think about keeping my Tour card this year! I want to win again this year so hopefully I get it done.”

Bhullar of India missed out on a chance to win his sixth Asian Tour title in Bangladesh last week but the tied ninth result puts him in good stead to end three-year title drought.

“My game is feeling good. I need to keep everything together. It is just a matter of time before everything comes together. I’m just waiting for everything to click,” the Indian said.

“It always gives me good momentum when I’m playing in these big tournaments. I played pretty decent last week except for the final round. I had some bad luck in Bangladesh last week with a few bad bounces. But I hit the ball really good. These are the learning phases which people learn in the final round,” he added.

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