Johor Bahru, November 11: Korean star Charlie Wi will make a welcome return to Asia as he seeks a third victory in Malaysia at the Iskandar Johor Open next week.
Wi, who plied his trade on the Asian Tour earlier in his career before moving on to the PGA Tour, will lead the Asian charge alongside former Order of Merit winners Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and Jeev Milkha Singh of India from November 17 to 20.
Current Order of Merit leader S.S.P. Chowrasia of India, Lu Wei-chih of Chinese Taipei, who is a two-time winner this year, and Siddikur of Bangladesh will also feature in the US$2 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Wi won his first career title at the 1997 Kuala Lumpur Open and later claimed the Maybank Malaysian Open crown in 2006. He currently lies in 14th place on the career earnings list in Asia with more than US$1.4 million courtesy of seven victories.
The US-based Korean finished runner-up finish at the Crowne Plaza Invitational on the PGA Tour this season and will be determined to hit a purple patch as he makes his debut at the majestic Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club.
Thaworn Wiratchant, a 12-time Asian Tour winner, will draw inspiration from his memorable performances at the Iskandar Johor Open where he finished second in 2008 and tied eighth last year.
However, the decorated Thai star admits it won’t be easy to emulate his past performances in the event.
“It will be difficult. There are many strong players in the field and my form hasn’t been very consistent this season,” said Thaworn, who finished second in the Mercuries Taiwan Masters in Taipei last week.
He admits he must get his putter working consistently to stand a chance of equalling Thongchai’s record of 13 Asian Tour titles.
“It will all come down to my putting. My driver and irons are good and if I can get my putter to work, I might stand a chance,” said the 44-year-old veteran.
“To be honest I’m not thinking about Thongchai’s record. I know that if I play well, the results will come,” he added.
Title holder Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Camilo Villegas of Colombia, Anthony Kim of the United States, Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa will also headline the Iskandar Johor Open.
About the Iskandar Johor Open
The Iskandar Johor Open is one of the fastest-growing tournaments on the Asian Tour, and has attracted some of the best golfers in the world. The event was successfully staged at the Royal Johor Country Club for the first three years and at Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club in 2010.
It returns to Johor for the fifth time at Horizon Hills, where once again golf fans will be able to witness yet another exciting golf tournament which is staking its claim as one of the top events on the Asian Tour calendar. It reaches a new level on the international golf schedule with its elevation to a co-sanctioned tournament with the Asian and European Tours for 2011.
Iskandar Malaysia and Johor Golf Association are continuing with their support of this event, and have created the biggest international event in Johor. Since the inaugural event in 2007, the prize money for the tournament has increased by five-fold from US$300,000 in 2007 to US$1,250,000 in 2010. In 2011, the prize money will grow to a minimum of US$2,000,000.
Past winners include Artemio Murakami of the Philippines, who won the inaugural event in 2007, and South African Retief Goosen, who took home the prestigious prize in 2008. KJ Choi lifted the coveted trophy in 2009, and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington ended a two-year winless run in 2010 with a very popular win.