Thongchai eyes King's Cup success

Thongchai Jaidee returns for his first competitive event on home soil this season and promises to thrill at the King’s Cup which tees off on Thursday.

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The decorated Thai star, who holds 13 Asian Tour victories, has enjoyed a stellar season, winning his first title on European soil in Wales in June followed by two top-10s finishes in Macau and Hong Kong.

Highly regarded as one of Asia's best golfers, the 43-year-old is the most successful player on the Asian Tour with his unprecedented three Order of Merit crowns. He also leads the Career Earnings list with over US$4 million in winnings but trails countryman Thaworn Wiratchant for the most number of wins on Tour.

"I always look forward to returning home. After being away for most part of the year playing in Europe and Asia, it's always nice to come home to familiar surroundings and see friends and family," said Thongchai.

While injuries may have kept him from playing a full schedule this season, Thongchai is satisfied with the results that he has managed to achieve and hopes to reproduce his winning form at home as the year comes to a close.

"It was nice to end my season in Europe with a top-10 finish last week and hopefully by playing at home again this week, I can get a good finish and reward the home fans who have been very supportive of me throughout the year," said Thongchai, who has been grouped with Australia's David Gleeson and compatriot Prom Meesawat in the opening two rounds at the Singha Park Khon Kaen Golf Club

Thaworn will have the opportunity to overtake Australia's Marcus Fraser at the top of the Order of Merit with another good finish at the King's Cup which is the third last event of the 2012 Asian Tour schedule.

With Fraser away at the PGA Tour Qualifying School this week, Thaworn can reclaim top spot which he had previously held for four weeks following his third win this season in India.

"It's nice to go back to the top with a good result this week and I prefer not to think too much about it at this stage as it'll put unnecessary pressure," said Thaworn, who holds the record of 15 wins on the Asian Tour.

With Thongchai and Thaworn in the international field, the King's Cup has been billed as a rivalry between two of the country's top kingpins who have a combined 28 Tour victories.

"It's good that we have a strong field with the top locals and Asian Tour players competing this week. That adds to the appeal of the event. As for Thongchai and myself, it's always good to play against a top player and I look forward to the challenge," said Thaworn.

Meanwhile Malaysia's Shaaban Hussin believes he can haul himself back into the safety zone even though he is lying in 85th place on the rankings.

Ranked as Malaysia's number one amateur in 2001 and 2002, Shaaban knows the significance of the last three events as they offer a total of US$3.5 million and is hopeful that he will be able to rise to the occasion.

"I still have three events to play and I believe I need about US$30,000 to US$40,000 to get into the top-60. I feel that it's still possible as my form is good and I'm feeling confident about my game this week," said the Malaysian whose best finish was tied-13th in Singapore earlier this year.

The King's Cup is making its return after a year's absence following the floods in Thailand and is already enjoying a welcome revival with its prize fund increasing to US$500,000 this year.

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