Thaworn sets sights on Malaysian Open title

Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant hopes to turn his golfing fortunes around at the US$2.75 million Maybank Malaysian Open which starts on Thursday.

Thaworn Wiratchant

Malaysia has been a happy hunting ground for the 46-year-old Thai star, who has won three times in the country but he has yet to leave an impression at the national Open with more missed cuts than top-10s over the past decade.

"Every year, I'm missing the cut here. I don't like the golf course as it's too long for my game," said Thaworn, holder of a record 15 Asian Tour titles, today.

"The game is not feeling good right now. The fairways are playing long because it's wet and I also feel tired coming into the week. I just have to keep trying and see what comes my way. I find it difficult with the short game. If you miss the greens, it can be difficult," he added.

Thaworn's best showing in Malaysia's showpiece event was tied eighth in the 2004 edition. He missed the cut last year and his best outing at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club was tied 25th in 2010.

Last year, the unorthodox swinging Thai won the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in Malaysia which was one of three triumphs which led him to a second Asian Tour Order of Merit crown.

Thaworn will also play in the Masters Tournament, the year's first Major, at Augusta National next month after receiving a special invitation on the back of his glorious season on the Asian Tour, which is celebrating its milestone 10th season in 2013.

Countryman Chawalit Plaphol, winner of the season-opening Zaykabar Myanmar Open in February, expects the Thais to come charging through at the Maybank Malaysian Open and picked the likes of Kiradech Aphibarnrat, fourth at the Avantha Masters in India last week, Prom Meesawat, Chapchai Nirat and Chinnarat Phadungsil as contenders for the title on Sunday.

"Kiradech, Prom, Chapchai, Chinnarat ... they are all the young players coming through now. They will be the ones to watch," said Chawalit.

"I like this course but it's going to be tough. The greens are firm which will be a challenge. My game seems to be coming along nicely and I hope to play well this week. You need to hit the irons and putt well which is the key. If you find the deep rough, it can be difficult."

The sweet-swinging Chawalit is eyeing the Maybank Malaysian Open title which is co-sanctioned with the European Tour as his four wins have all been at full-field Asian Tour events.

"I feel it is time for me to try to win one of the big ones," said the 38-year-old.

"Since winning in Myanmar, my game has improved. My confidence has improved which helps with the overall game. We'll have to deal with the rain this week as you can expect the weather to come in during the afternoons. We'll need to stay patient."

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