Bangkok, May 17: Korean-American David Lipsky hopes to stretch his lead on the current Order of Merit by putting on a strong showing at the US$300,000 Thailand Open, which gets underway on Thursday.
A victory at the Thai Country Club this week will move Lipsky closer towards his goal of becoming only the fourth multiple Order of Merit winner on the Asian Tour. He was previously crowned the Order of Merit champion in 2014.
Lipsky, who is making his debut appearance in the historic event, will be vying for honours alongside Thai stars Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Prayad Marksaeng, Thaworn Wiratchant and reigning Order of Merit winner Scott Hend of Australia in the storied event.
Hend will be looking to continue his affinity with Thailand after claiming three victories in the Kingdom, including two in 2016. He is chasing for a 10th Asian Tour title this week.
Singaporean Mardan Mamat marked another career milestone by playing in his 400th Asian Tour event at the Thailand Open. He is only the second player after Thaworn to achieve this feat.
Other notable players in the field include Indian duo Shiv Kapur and Gaganjeet Bhullar, Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat and Malaysia’s Gavin Green, who sits in fourth place on the current Order of Merit.
The Thailand Open, one of the oldest National Championship in Asia, is returning onto the Asian Tour schedule following an eight-year lapse.
Did you know?
- Lipsky came in runner-up at the lucrative Maybank Championship in February to lead the current Order of Merit with earnings of US$333,330.
- Lipsky won the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2014 and is chasing to become only the fourth multiple Order of Merit winner on the region’s premier Tour following Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (2001, 2004 and 2009) Thaworn Wiratchant (2005 and 2012) and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh (2006 and 2008).
- Lipsky is making his debut appearance in the Thailand Open, which was inaugurated in 1965.
- Hend is the first Australian to win the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit crown.
- Mardan, hailed as the most successful golfer in the Lion City, is the first Singaporean to win on the Asian Tour in 2004. He holds a total of five Asian Tour titles and one Asian Development Tour (ADT) title.
- Lu is a five-time winner on the Asian Tour. He is also a former winner of the Thailand Open in 1990.
- In 2016, Lu claimed two victories on his domestic Tour at the age of 53.
David Lipsky (Usa)
I have never played in the Thailand Open before but to win a National Open anywhere would mean a great deal. Winning in Thailand would be great as I have some fond memories here and I have played a lot here.
I haven’t played in Thailand for a few years though so it’s great to be back. There are a lot of good Thai players here like Kiradech (Aphibarnrat) in the field this week. It won’t be an easy challenge but I will try my best. It’s great to be back in Asia after playing in Europe for awhile.
It’s almost halfway through the year and I see myself leading the Order of Merit again. I think I will see myself coming out more often to play on the Asian Tour and try to win the Order of Merit again.
I started my career on the Asian Tour and won the Order of Merit in 2014. I am in a good position again now. There are a lot of good guys out here and to be part of this class means a lot to me, especially coming from Asian descent.
Scott Hend (Aus)
It’s great to have the tournament back on the Asian Tour schedule. There are a lot of good young Thai players around and it’s good to give them a chance to win their National title. To be able to play at the Thai Country Club makes it even better. Everything about the event is very positive.
I am pretty familiar with the Thai Country Club. I am very fortunate to know quite a lot of members here and the staff here are so friendly. They always welcome me with open arms, letting me play and practice on the course.
It’s a great golf course. I do have great affinity with Thailand, having won three titles here. I just have a lot of friends here and I love the food, the culture, the people, etc. There are a lot of golf courses with big greens and big fairways which suit my game as well.
It’s going to be a stiff competition this week. We have got so many good local players out there. A lot of young Thai players have shown their potential on the Asian Tour. It’s going to be a very close battle this week.
Mardan Mamat (Sgp)
I am very fortunate to reach 400 events on the Asian Tour. The Asian Tour has helped my golf career throughout the years so I am pleased and fortunate to play on this Tour.
I have a few great memories. The first memory is my win at the 2006 Singapore Masters and winning the Indian Open (2004) which is my first Asian Tour title. This Tour has really given me a lot of good memories.
I am fortunate to still be playing on the Asian Tour and I still love to compete until now. I hope to keep myself healthy, play my golf and enjoy the rest of my career playing golf.
I turned professional at the end of 1994 right after the Asian Games. I played in the Singapore Open and in the first round of the tournament I shot a hole-in-one and I won a Jaguar. I couldn’t afford to keep the luxury car then so I sold it to fund my golf career and keep some for my family.
That helped me advance in my golf career. I’m very fortunate to have a good start in my career. Throughout my journey on the Asian Tour, I made a lot of friends from all over the world – some of them retired and some are still playing.
I would love to help Singapore golf and bring up new talents. I want to help youngsters who want to play at the highest level in golf. I would like to help the national team and share my experience with them. It is my pleasure to be on the Asian Tour. This is the Tour that I rely on and hopefully all the younger golfers can play as many tournament as me and Thaworn (Wiratchant).
Lu Wen-teh (Tpe)
I am very happy to be playing the Thailand Open this week. I haven’t played this event for many years. I met a lot of old friends out here and I am really excited for the tournament. This was not the course where I won the Thailand Open in 1990 but I have played here before.
The weather was really good when we played last time but this week, it seems to play a lot longer with the rain. The greens are very tricky here. Some holes are pretty long and if you don’t hit it on the right position of the greens, you will face trouble with putting.
I have been playing on the Asian Tour since the day it started. The Tour has been improving year after year. I see a lot of new faces every time I come out to play. The players are getting younger and younger and it makes me realized that I am really getting old!
It’s a good thing to see though. We always hope to see the younger generation carry on the legacy created by the older generation. The playing standards have improved so much now compared to the past. The halfway cut-off mark is getting lower and lower.