Thaworn eyes rich pickings in Malaysia

Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant will aim to become the oldest champion of the Asian Tour's Order of Merit after notching a record 15th career title on Sunday.

Golf News: Thaworn Wiratchant

The 45-year-old continued to produce some of the best golf of his life to win the Hero Indian Open in a play-off against Scotsman Richie Ramsay as he leapfrogged into top spot of the Merit list after adding US$198,125 to his season's haul of US$547,031.

His 2012 earnings have already surpassed his previous season's best of US$510,123 in 2005, the year he become Asia's number one.

With several big-money events coming up, Thaworn is hoping to enter the record books as the oldest Merit champion and the evergreen Thai, who has played in eight consecutive weeks, is not about to take his foot off the pedal.

He will turn his attention to this week's US$6.1 million CIMB Classic at the Mines Resort and Golf Club in Malaysia where he will face the likes of 14-time Major champion Tiger Woods and title holder Bo Van Pelt in the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.

"It is nice to lead the Order of Merit and there are many big tournaments coming up. I want to win it (Order of Merit) but it will depend on how I play in the next few events. I have a good chance of winning but I'll need to continue my form. I'm looking forward to the end of the season," said Thaworn, who also moved up 27 places to 84th on the Official World Golf Ranking.

Although this week's CIMB Classic will not count towards the Merit race, Thaworn will have his eyes firmly on this week's top prize of US$1.3 million. Since the inauguration of the cash-rich CIMB event in 2010, PGA Tour stars have won the tournament via Ben Crane and Bo Van Pelt.

Thaworn knows the Asian Tour stars will be eager to stamp their mark at the exclusive Mines Resort, which was built on what was formerly the world's largest open cast tin mine. And as in any week, his goal is always the same - tee up to win.

"I only aim to win when I play in any tournament. Every time I'm in the field, my only goal is to win. I have to admit that it is getting harder as I get older and the young players are so good now. Just look at Gaganjeet Bhullar (winner of the Venetian Macau Open two weeks ago). He is such a good player," said Thaworn.

Thaworn claimed victory at the Queen's Cup on home soil in June to tie countryman Thongchai Jaidee for the most career wins and then edged ahead with a second title of the season at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in Malaysia in August.

The Thai wasn't expecting to win in India as Ramsay was in total control until a slip-up on the 72nd hole where he three putted for bogey. The Scotsman then sent a tee shot into a creek in the first play-off hole which allowed Thaworn to win the tournament with a bogey.

"I never thought I was going to win because my driver wasn't good enough. I was expecting to finish in the top-five. I'm happy to win again. I didn't think I could win," he said.

The other Asian Tour players in this week's CIMB Classic which starts on Thursday are India's Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri, Australia's Marcus Fraser, who is second on the Merit list, and Scott Hend, Japan's Masanori Kobayashi, South Africa's Jbe Kruger, Thailand's Prom Meesawat, Bangladeshi Siddikur and American David Lipsky.

Malaysia's Danny Chia and Shaaban Hussin will also feature in the 48-man field.

ASIAN TOUR ORDER OF MERIT - TOP-20
POS PLAYER EARNINGS (US$)

1. Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 547,031
2. Marcus FRASER (AUS) 481,394
3. Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 453,588
4. Masanori KOBAYASHI (JPN) 400,289
5. Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 356,025
6. David LIPSKY (USA) 278,097
7. Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 243,604
8. Shiv KAPUR (IND) 242,675
9. Scott HEND (AUS) 224,765
10. SIDDIKUR (BAN) 217,942
11. Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 214,431
12. Felipe AGUILAR (CHI) 174,911
13. Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 145,631
14. Berry HENSON (USA) 145,036
15. Scott BARR (AUS) 134,439
16. Jonathan MOORE (USA) 132,177
17. Angelo QUE (PHI) 125,175
18. Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 124,420
19. Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 121,680
20. TSAI Chi-huang (TPE) 120,000



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