Young guns take aim in Chiangmai

The Asian Tour's young guns are eager to make an impression at the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT next week.

Quek of Singapore watches his tee shot.

Upcoming Thai Gunn Charoenkul, who earned his full Asian Tour card last season by finishing 32nd on the Order of Merit, Hu Mu of China, Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka and Quincy Quek of Singapore, who are all in their early 20s, will feature in the US$750,000 full-field Asian Tour event.

Multiple Major winner Ernie Els of South Africa, currently ranked 24th in the world, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand (59th), Gaganjeet Bhullar of India (85th), Y.E. Yang of Korea (139th), Kenichi Kuboya of Japan (157th), Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand (170th), Prom Meesawat (178th) of Thailand and South African Jbe Kruger (192nd) will also feature at the Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai.

The depth of the field, which includes 46 Asian Tour winners, will serve as an inspiration for Gunn, who was born into a family with strong sporting background as his father and mother represented Thailand in football and volleyball respectively.

He made the best of his limited playing opportunities on the Asian Tour last year when he missed only one cut in eight starts to earn a full card. This year, he is tipped to shine again.

"It was a brilliant season for me last year. Honestly I didn't expect it as I was only hoping to play my way into a country exemption spot or maybe just finish inside the top-60. But I played much better than I had expected," smiled Gunn.

"The Asian Tour has given me the opportunity to play in big events and it has opened doors for me. I get to play against the better players and hopefully I can become a better player as well," he added.

Sri Lanka's Perera, whose father Nandasena is a famous name on the old Asian circuit during the 1980s and 1990s, hopes the Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT will be a special week.

"I think everybody has a chance to win a tournament. All you need is one good week. If you can go really low then you have a chance to win. I feel that I can do that as well. My father Nandasena is a legend and he is my coach too. The Sri Lankan people cheer for me and give me a lot of well wishes. I'm so happy to be the first Sri Lankan to have a full Asian Tour card," said Perera.

Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, Anirban Lahiri of India, winner of the SAIL-SBI Open in India two weeks ago, Arnond Vongvanij of Thailand, Masanori Kobayashi of Japan, David Lipsky of the United States and bit-hitting Kiradech Aphibarnrat are also in the elite field.

Former US Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand will also feature in the Chiangmai Golf Classic as with Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand, winner of the season-opening Zaykabar Myanmar Open.

Other local hopes include Prom Meesawat, Boonchu Ruangkit and Prayad Marksaeng, all winners on the Asian Tour which is celebrating its milestone 10th season in 2013.



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