Chinese Taipei, October 30: Jakraphan Premsirigorn will be aiming to become the first Thai to graduate from the Asian Development Tour (ADT) as he targets a second straight win at the 14th ADT Chang Hwa Open which starts on Thursday.
The highly rated Jakraphan won his first ADT title in Malaysia earlier this month and another victory this week will put him in strong position to break into the top-three positions on the ADT Order of Merit.
The top-three players on the Merit rankings at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the Asian Tour in 2014, giving them the opportunity to elevate their games to a higher level on the region’s premier Tour.
James Bowen of the United States, young talent Nicholas Fung and Iain Steel of Malaysia, who currently occupy the top-three spots on the Order of Merit, will headline the US$120,000 ADT event at the Chang Hwa Golf Club.
With a winner’s prize purse of US$21,000, Jakraphan hopes to leverage on his recent good run of form at the richest ADT event this season.
“I am feeling very confident with my game right now. The course is in a great condition but it’s quite challenging. I will just try and have some fun out there this week and not think too much,” said the 21-year-old Jakraphan.
The young Thai, who turned professional in 2011, enjoyed a breakthrough win in his career when he defeated Fung at the PGM MNRB Sarawak Masters by one shot earlier this month.
“Winning in Malaysia was not only my first win on the ADT but also my first win as a professional golfer. It meant a lot to me. I hope to keep up with my good form and we will see how it goes,” added Jakraphan, who is ranked seventh on the Order of Merit with earnings of US$21,067.
Bowen is closely chased by Malaysian duo Fung and Steel on the Order of Merit as the American leads by a mere margin of US$3,000 from Steel, who is ranked third.
Steel, who claimed two consecutive wins on the ADT this season including one in Chinese Taipei, is eager to return to action after spending time with his family in the United States for almost six weeks.
“I’m looking forward to this week and very eager to get back to business. I practised hard for the last two weeks back home trying to look for the form which I left in September before going for my break,” said the 42-year-old Steel.
“Hopefully I can finish the season with a good run of events leading to the Christmas break and secure my Asian Tour card for next year,” added the Malaysian.
Fung hopes the experience of playing with the Asian Tour and PGA Tour stars in Malaysia last week will guide him to a second ADT victory.
“You need a lot of local knowledge to play well here. I did my practice round today and the course seems really challenging. The greens are very tricky. It may seems like an easier event for me this week but I will try my best still and play it like any other tournaments,” said the 23-year-old Fung.
Local veteran Lin Wen-tang hailed the addition of the 14th ADT Chang Hwa Open on the ADT schedule as he believes it will provide a strong platform for local golfers to enhance their game.
“It’s good to see a local event going on board the ADT as it gives local budding golfers opportunities to raise their standard of play by competing against international players from the ADT. It’s like a stepping stone for local players to get onto the world stage,” said Lin, a multiple winner on the Asian Tour.
“The younger players should embrace such opportunities and gain more exposure and experience for themselves. Playing in such events trains them to manage their pressure better too. I hope we can get more of such events on the ADT or Asian Tour in future,” added Lin.
The 14th ADT Chang Hwa Open is the second ADT event to be held in Chinese Taipei this year, following the Ballantine’s Taiwan Championship which was held earlier in August.
All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points starting this year. Winners on the ADT will receive a minimum of six world ranking points while the top six players and ties will earn points based on a sliding scale.
A total of 126 players will compete in this week’s 14th ADT Chang Hwa Open brought together by the ADT, Taiwan PGA and Chang Hwa Golf Club.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com.
About the Asian Development Tour
The Asian Development Tour was launched in 2010 with the aim of creating a career pathway for professional golfers in Asia. Sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the Asian Development Tour will ultimately create a new playing platform for emerging stars from across Asia and around the world. Through the Asian Tour Qualifying School, players will qualify for the Asian Development Tour and enjoy the opportunity to hone their games and talent through a secondary circuit in Asia. Designed in the same structure as the Web.com Tour in America and European Challenge Tour, the Asian Development Tour is a stepping stone to the Asian Tour and the exciting world of international golf. The Asian Development Tour has been structured to ensure the best opportunities for its members. The leading three players on the Asian Development Tour will earn coveted Asian Tour cards for the following season, ensuring a proper career pathway for aspiring professionals. All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking points.