Thai hotshot Pavit Tangkamolprasert is hoping to uphold his late King’s honour with a successful title defence at the storied Macao Open which starts on Thursday.
The 28-year-old Pavit enjoyed his career best victory yet at the Macau Golf and Country Club 12 months ago, defeating Indian star Anirban Lahiri on the first play-off hole for his breakthrough win on the region’s premier Tour.
Pavit, also a proud graduate of the Asian Development Tour (ADT), is hoping to repeat that win for his late King at the US$500,000 full-field Asian Tour event, as his country prepares for the royal funeral which will take place next week.
Pavit will lead an elite cast which includes reigning Order of Merit champion Scott Hend of Australia, American David Lipsky, Thai duo Jazz Janewattananond and Poom Saksansin, who are all sitting inside top-10 of the current Order of Merit.
Rising stars Shubhankar Sharma and Chikkarangappa S. of India, American Johannes Veerman, Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat, all gunning for a first Asian Tour victory, are also tipped to shine in the popular event.
The four-day tournament is jointly organised by Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government (MSB) and the Golf Association of Macau. It is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, and promoted by IMG.
Entry to the 2017 Macao Open is free. For more information, please visit www.themacaoopen.com.
Did you know?
- Pavit won the 2016 Macao Open for his first Asian Tour title. Prior to the victory, Pavit had plied his trade on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) where he won a record total of five titles and was crowned the ADT Order of Merit champion in 2014.
- Pavit dedicated his triumph at the 2016 Macao Open to King Bhumibol Adulyadej who passed away during the opening round of the tournament last year.
- Pavit became only the second player, after Chan Shih-chang of Chinese Taipei, to win three times in a single season on the secondary circuit.
- Pavit did not have full playing rights on the Asian Tour before his breakthrough. He entered the 2016 Macao Open through his country exemption category and after winning that week, he earned a two-year winner exemption on the region’s premier Tour.
- Pavit’s younger brother Annop and sister Suchaya are also professional golfers of Thailand.
- Sharma claimed his fifth title on his local Tour last week. He is chasing for his maiden title on the Asian Tour. Sharma has enjoyed a great start to the season, notching three consecutive top-10s in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Malaysia. He sits in 24th place on the Order of Merit.
- Jazz enjoyed a tied-sixth finish at the Macao Open in 2015. He eagled the par-five 18 to break into top-10 of the final standings that week. Jazz has enjoyed a great season in 2017, winning his maiden Asian Tour title in Bangladesh earlier in February before notching five top-10s, including four consecutive ones between April to June.
- Jazz sits in a career-high eighth place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit. He earned his debut appearance at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia last week, marking his second start on the PGA Tour this year. He finished in tied-39th position last week.
Pavit Tangkamolprasert (Tha)
The game’s feeling alright. I am beginning to find some form with my driver now. It’s great to be back here in Macao. It has been exactly a year since the late Thai king passed away. We continue to mourn him back home in Thailand as we prepare for his funeral later this month. I believe he will continue to watch over us from above.
I had a week off last week. I went to the gym, did some practice and get my body ready for this week. The memories from my win last year are still vivid in my mind. Last year, we were mourning the death of our King and this week, it feels the same again as we are preparing for his funeral later this month. People are wearing black again in Thailand.
I didn’t know Anirban Lahiri was on a birdie streak last year. I only knew he was close when I was on the 17. It is good that I didn’t know earlier as that could add pressure on me. I wasn’t expecting much too when I know I am heading into a play-off.
I have nothing to lose. I just needed a good score to keep my card. I just went out and play my best. Winning the Macao Open last year has since boosted my career. I get in to bigger events now and it has been a great learning experience for me the last one year.
I get the opportunities to play on the European Tour too. Things are really different over there. You need to adapt to the weather. Distance control is really key and playing conditions are tough with the strong winds. But having said that, playing under such testing conditions help your mental game too.
I had a chance to play at the St. Andrews old course when I played the British Masters on the European Tour a few weeks ago and it was such an honour to play at the home of golf. It was a great experience.
I hope to ride on the happy memories out there to cap another good result this week and I will play with nothing to lose, just like last year.
Shubhankar Sharma (Ind)
The game is in a good shape. I played really well to win on my local circuit held on my home course last week. It’s been a long while since I last won. It’s good coming in to this week with a win. I played really well at the start of the season and cooled down a little bit in the middle but there are still a lot of important events coming up. I am still hoping to do well and try to contend.
This course is very challenging off the tee. You need to position the ball properly and you need to hit it very straight off the tee. That’s one thing I believe all the players will be looking at this week – to position themselves well off the tee and give themselves opportunities for birdies.
Ajeetesh (Sandhu)’s victory in Chinese Taipei two weeks ago was very inspiring to me. He is a very good friend of mine so I am happy to see him secure his first win on the Asian Tour. We came from the same town and we have been pretty close for the past few years. He has worked very hard for it. His win has definitely pushed all the players, like myself, to play well as well.
I guess that was one of the reasons why I won last week. I was very inspired by his win. Even this course, the Indian players have played very well here. Anirban and Chikkarangappa S. played good here last year and Gaganjeet (Bhullar) has also won here before.
Overall, the season has been good, a little bit of up and down but I think there are still a lot of things to work on for the rest of the season. I will try my best to contend.
Jazz Janewattananond (Tha)
I had a great experience playing in the CIMB Classic last week. I learnt a lot of stuff from the PGA Tour players. It’s great to be playing against some of the world’s top players. It’s refreshing to see how far I have come to play on that level.
I had some good memories here. I didn’t play last year but two years ago, I eagled the last hole 18 to finish tied-sixth. I hit it into the rough and laid it up before getting it in the hole from 150 yards! I remember there was a huge crowd there and they were all cheering for me.
The course looks a bit different from two years ago but it looks like they have recovered well from the typhoon earlier. This is my eighth week in a row. I just want to play my best out there.
Earlier, I had the pressure of trying to keep myself inside top-10 to qualify for the CIMB Classic but now, I can just play my game and hopefully made my good season even better.