Kiradech eyes Augusta spot, Poom hopes to repeat

Jakarta: In-form Kiradech Aphibarnrat and defending champion Poom Saksansin are among contenders at the Indonesian Masters, which begins today.

The Asian Tour’s season-ending event at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club features major winner Justin Rose of England, eight-time PGA Tour winner Brandt Snedeker of the US and Malaysia’s Gavin Green, who has won the Asian Tour’s 2017 Order of Merit title.

World No.56 Kiradech has been playing well over the past few months, finishing second at the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last month and 11th on the Race to Dubai ranking.

The 28-year-old, who has eight top-10 finishes this year, is brimming with confidence after winning the Asian Development Tour’s (ADT) Thongchai Jaidee Foundation tournament in Pattaya on Sunday.

“It has been such a successful year,” he said.

“I am very happy with the way I am playing and confident with my swing.”

He aims to break into the top 50 in the world rankings for a place at the US Masters in Augusta next year.

Poom is also in a confident mood.

“It feels very good to be the defending champion. I still remember the feeling of winning last year here and I want to try and repeat that,” he said.

The other Thai in the US$750,000 event include Thongchai Jaidee, Prayad Marksaeng and Jazz Janewattananond.

Green, 23, is looking forward to showing why he is labelled as Asia’s best player at the moment.

The Malaysian holds an unassailable lead on the money list and will be officially presented with the Order of Merit trophy at the end of the Indonesia Masters.

“It has been a long journey for me and it has been a great year. I want to end on a high, especially with a good finish here at the Indonesian Masters. I am quite keen to put up a good show. I’m excited,” he said.

World No.6 Rose, who will be playing alongside Green in the first two rounds, is under no illusion that his debut at the Indonesian Masters will be a stroll in the park.

The Englishman has enjoyed a stellar year, highlighted by back-to-back wins in China and Turkey.

“It has been a great year. I had two great wins and a good year does need victories. My goal is to win three times this year by winning this week. The last time I won three times in a year was back in 2002,” said the Olympic champion.

“Gavin’s obviously having an exceptional year. I haven’t played with Gavin yet but has seen him on the range and we have mutual friends. He’s in the same management stable as I. I know he hits the ball a long way and I’ll definitely keep a close eye on him.”

While he wants to close the year with another victory in Jakarta, Rose is wary of the strength and depth of the Asian Tour field, which can put a dent in his title ambitions this week.

Snedeker is also aware of the tough challenge ahead as he seeks to end an injury-plagued year with a memorable finish in Jakarta. “Asian golf has come a long way since the days of KJ Choi [of South Korea]. The influx of young players, especially from Asia, has been fun to watch and it’s great for the growth of the game,” he said.

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