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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 13:26, March 01, 2006
Thai duo ready for Jakata challenge
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Thai star Thongchai Jaidee is hoping a reworked swing will pay dividends at this week's Enjoy Jakarta HSBC Indonesia Open 2006.

His compatriot and defending champion Thaworn Wiratchant, meanwhile, is determined to keep a low profile as he seeks his first title of the season.

Photo:Thai golfers Thaworn Wiratchant (left) and Thongchai Jaidee at a press conference ahead of Thursday's Enjoy Jakarta HSBC Indonesia Open.
Thai golfers Thaworn Wiratchant (left) and Thongchai Jaidee at a press conference ahead of Thursday's Enjoy Jakarta HSBC Indonesia Open.
Thongchai, a two-time Asian Order of Merit champion, finished second at the Maybank Malaysian Open two weeks ago, missing a birdie putt on the final hole to hand Korean Charlie Wi a one-stroke victory.

The former paratrooper goes into the Jakarta tournament, co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours, confident that his week of practice in Thailand will help him challenge for the title at Emeralda Golf Club.

"After Malaysia I went back home to practice and my coach mentioned something to me about my swing," said Thongchai, 37, third on the UBS Asian Tour Order of Merit with US$157,880 in winnings.

"My body was going down and we worked on moving it up a little bit. It's now a wider swing and it helps me hit the ball a lot more cleanly.

"Because of this, I feel I'm in good form swing-wise, especially my irons. I have to practice my putting though. The greens are difficult with many slopes and I'll have to work on that aspect of my game over the next few days."

Thaworn, the reigning Asian No.1 who lies sixth in 2006 with US$61,832, won last year's tournament for his first European Tour title.

It provided the platform for a remarkable season in which he won four Asian Tour events, a record for a single season.

The 39-year-old Thaworn, however, prefers not to dwell on his 2005 performance at Cengkareng Golf Club when he cruised to glory by five strokes from Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin.

"I don't want to put pressure on myself by thinking of being the defending champion," said Thaworn, whose best performance this season was joint fifth in December's Okinawa Open.

"I just want to think of myself as just one of the players. It's going to be very difficult because there are a lot of good players out there. I don't need the extra pressure.

"The course is also difficult. Every shot is hard. If you hit the rough it's going to be tough to get out."

For Thongchai, the tournament - promoted by Parallel Media Asia - is another stepping stone towards his goal of qualifying for the US Masters at Augusta.

To do that, Thongchai must break into the top 50 of the Official World Rankings. Ranked 86, the Thai knows his performances at the Enjoy Jakarta HSBC Indonesia Open 2006 and next week's OSIM Singapore Masters will be crucial.

"I will see how I go during the next two weeks in Jakarta and Singapore," said Thongchai, who is 12th on the European Tour with 291,110 euros in earnings. "I feel I can play good golf and if I can play my game, I can be successful.

"But it's very difficult to predict. Every tournament is different. I can only try my best."

Thongchai and Thaworn are not the only Thais capable of winning. Thammanoon Srirot, who led going into the final day in Malaysia, Prayad Marksaeng, veteran Boonchu Ruangkit, Prom Meesawat and Chapchai Nirat are among a strong Thai contingent.

The Asian challenge also includes Indian duo Jyoti Randhawa and Shiv Kapur, China's Zhang Lian-wei and South Korea's Wi and SK Ho.

Wi is on a high after winning in Kuala Lumpur two weeks ago in a tournament that was shortened to 54 holes because of bad weather.

Welshman Stephen Dodd, Italian Costantino Rocca and Scotland's Andrew Coltart are among the European golfers hoping to make an impact.

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