Masaru plans final assault for Merit crown #BRChamps

Masaru Takahashi of Japan

Masaru Takahashi of Japan

Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, December 19: Japan’s Masaru Takahashi plans to come out with all guns blazing when he steps up to the tee for the season-ending Boonchu Ruangkit Championship which starts on Thursday.

Placed second on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit, Masaru is determined to put up a strong showing in his last-ditch attempt to win the Merit crown at the Rancho Charnvee Resort and Country Club.

The 31-year-old Masaru currently trails Pannakorn Uthaipas of Thailand by about US$5,900 and needs at least a fourth-place finish at the ฿4 million (approximately US$120,000) event to have a chance of becoming the first Japanese to win the accolade.

“The game’s feeling pretty good at the moment. I had a good finish at the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation where I came in tied-12th two weeks ago so I’m feeling confident. Right now, I am working on my putting. Hopefully I can roll in some putts this week,” said Masaru.

“This course seemed to play easy the last two years but this week, it’s really windy and cold out there. Scoring might not be that easy. But having said that, I’m used to playing in the cold. It feels like home in Japan. I will try my best this week,” added the two-time ADT winner.

Masaru, who has virtually secured his 2018 Asian Tour card, is pleased to erase the heartbreak of missing out by one rung in 2015 after young Thai Phachara Khongwatmai won the season-finale to pip him to the last and final card on offer that year.

“The season has been great with some good finishes and no injuries. I am happy to have secured my Asian Tour card for 2018. Right now, I just want to focus on winning the Order of Merit. I still have a chance,” added Masaru, who has claimed one win and nine top-10s this season.

Pannakorn Uthaipas of Thailand

Pannakorn Uthaipas of Thailand

Pannakorn, who took over the driver’s seat on the Order of Merit after a third-place finish at the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation, plans to keep things simple and not give himself unnecessary pressure of winning the Order of Merit when he tees up for the season-finale.

“It’s going to be a fun week. The aim is still to win the Order of Merit for sure. I am in a good position. I had a week of rest last week and I made some slight changes to my swing. I’m feeling really comfortable with it now so we’ll see how it goes,” said the 27-year-old Pannakorn.

“It’s really cold and windy here. I don’t really enjoy playing in the cold but it’s still Thailand and I’m playing on home soil. It has been a good season for me. I had some pretty solid results.

“The change in my mental game has helped a lot. I have been telling myself to keep things simple and it works! I will continue to do the same this week,” added Pannakorn, who claimed his breakthrough victory in Chinese Taipei earlier in June.

Other notable players in the field include Thai stars Thongchai Jaidee, tournament host Boonchu Ruangkit, defending champion Danthai Boonma as well as former Asian Tour and ADT winner Berry Henson of the United States, who is making a return to competitive golf after being sidelined by a wrist injury since June 2016.

With the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship being the final event of the 2017 ADT season, players will have everything to play for as they battle for the ADT Order of Merit crown as well as the five Asian Tour cards on offer for the 2018 season.

The leading five players on the final ADT Order of Merit at the end of the week will earn playing rights on the region’s premier Tour for 2018.

For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com.

Ends.

About 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 five 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.