Thai stars fired up for Chiangmai Classic

Thongchai Jaidee and Chawalit Plaphol will be aiming for a golden run at the Asian Tour's newest event, the Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT next week.

Golf News: Thongchai Jaidee

It was in the northern city of Chiangmai some 18 years ago that Thongchai and Chawalit did their country proud when they formed part of the Thai amateur team that clinched the gold medal at the 1995 Southeast Asian Games.

Chawalit achieved the double by winning the individual gold medal as well and subsequently turned professional in the following year which he has now won four Asian Tour titles including the Zaykabar Myanmar Open last month.

The duo will form a powerful line-up of Thai stars who include veteran Boonchu Ruangkit, Prom Meesawat, Chapchai Nirat, Chinnarat Phadungsil, Arnond Vongvanij, Gunn Charoenkul and Prayad Marksaeng at the Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai.

Three Major champions - Ernie Els of South Africa, Korea's Y.E. Yang and New Zealand's Michael Campbell - will headline the Chiangmai Golf Classic, which will be held form March 28-31.

"I'm really looking forward to going back to Chiangmai as I won the Southeast Asian Games double in 1995 when I was still an amateur," recalled Chawalit.

"I have a lot of good memories of Chiangmai. It is great that we'll have a new Asian Tour tournament in Thailand this year. It reflects the growing strength of the game in Thailand and it is good for the young players who are coming through on the Asian Tour now," he added.

The Chiangmai Golf Classic will be Thongchai's last chance to break into the world's top-50 and qualify for the Masters Tournament next month.

Like Chawalit, he also has fond memories of his time at the Southeast Asian Games. "My best memory of Chiangmai was certainly winning the SEA Games gold medal for the country. Since then, I've not gone back to Chiangmai to play golf," said the three-time Asian Tour number one.

"As I don't have many opportunities to play in Thai events, I'm looking forward to playing well in the Chiangmai Golf Classic. I've not played at the Alpine Golf Resort previously but I have heard it is a very tough course and a very long course.

"It's good we're having a new golf tournament in Chiangmai. There will be many good players in the field especially Y.E. Yang, Michael Campbell and Ernie Els as well as the strong players from the Asian Tour. Hopefully they'll help to draw the crowds and boost tourism in the country," he added.

Three-time Asian Tour champion Chapchai Nirat will be hoping to land a first victory on home soil when he takes on the elite field at the Chiangmai Golf Classic. "It is really good to have a new tournament in Thailand. I have never won a tournament at home, so hopefully I will have a chance to win the Chiangmai Golf Classic," said Chapchai.

"I have not played on the course previously but I know it is a beautiful city which is good for tourists."

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