Nusajaya, December 04: Even more international stars were announced today for the Asian Tour season-ending Iskandar Johor Open, presented by Iskandar Waterfront Holdings at Horizon Hills from 13-16 December.
Daniel Chopra, John Daly, and Kevin Na will join the 120 player field in a bid to capture the winner’s cheque from the US$2million prize purse and claim the final trophy on the 2012 Asian Tour calendar.
2011 runner-up Daniel Chopra is looking to go one better this time around. Born to a Swedish mother and Indian father, Chopra always receives a warm welcome on Asian fairways. He came so close last year at Horizon Hills, losing out by just one shot to Joost Luiten of the Netherlands.
He has experienced victory in the region before however, winning the Johor Open back in 1993, a year after turning professional. He has 14 professional victories to date including victory on the Asian Tour in 2001 at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
Chopra said, “I was disappointed not to walk away with the winner’s trophy last year at Horizon Hills so I would love to make up for it this year and finish my season on a fantastic high. It’s a challenging course so hopefully I can use my past experiences in Johor to get into contention from day one.”
Big-hitting Daly from the United States is playing in his 15th season as a professional and is ranked fourth for driving distance on the PGA Tour. He has five PGA Tour wins to his name including victory in the 1991 PGA Championship and the 1995 British Open. His best performance this season has been a tied-fifth place at the Reno-Tahoe Open.
South Korean Na, moved to the US with his family at the age of eight and turned professional in 2001 at 17 years old. This season, he has had six top ten finishes on the PGA Tour including tying for tenth at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. His best performance this season was a fourth place finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. In 2011, he claimed his first victory on Tour in the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Closer to home, the Asian Tour top players will also be out in force.
Currently sitting on top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit after his second place finish at last weekend’s Kings Cup, Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant could close a remarkable 2012 with another victory and cement his position as the Tour’s top golfer.
Thaworn said, “I’m beginning to believe that I have a good chance of winning the title for the second time. I’m feeling very confident about my game and this has been reflected in my results this year. I look forward to end the year on a winning note.”
Another headliner from Asia is India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar who is also looking to push himself further up the Order of Merit Title with a late surge of top results and earnings. Currently sitting fourth, he’ll be looking to add to his two titles already captured this season.
The home supporters will have plenty of local talent to follow around the fairways with at least ten Malaysian players making the line-up. Three of the coveted spots have been given to local amateurs to give them the opportunity to learn from their peers on home soil. Well-known favourites Shaaban Hussin and Danny Chia will also be in the mix.
Players previously announced by event promoters IMG include Sergio Garcia, Michael Campbell and Ernie Els – all of whom are making their debut appearance at the Iskandar Johor Open.
With the Asian Tour Order of Merit being finalised on the final day of play, the Asian Tour line-up will be impressive as the top-ranked players will be vying to claim as much of the prize money as they can to end the year in a strong position or even challenge for the top honours.
The Johor State Government and Johor Golf Association are continuing 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 five-fold from US$300,000 in 2007 to US$1.25million in 2010. In 2011, the prize money grew to US$2 million, and will remain the same for the 2012 edition.
Past champions of the event are Padraig Harrington (2010), K.J. Choi (2009), Retief Goosen (2008), and Artemio Murakami (2007) while Dutchman Joost Luiten collected the silverware and his share of the US$2 million prize purse last year.
IJO 2012 is presented by Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd, which is a government-linked company specifically incorporated to take on the role of master developer of prime waterfront properties in Johor Bahru.