In-form Thai ace Thaworn Wiratchant and Order of Merit leader Marcus Fraser of Australia will lead a strong Asian Tour line-up at the CIMB Classic later this month.
The top-10 players from the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit following the CJ Invitational Hosted by KJ Choi on Sunday earned coveted places in the lucrative US$6.1 million showpiece, which will be held at the Mines Resort and Golf Club from October 25-28.
Joining Fraser and Wiratchant in the event are Jbe Kruger (RSA), Masanori Kobayashi (JPN), David Lipsky (USA), Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND), Prom Meesawat (THA), Scott Hend (AUS), Siddikur (BAN) and Anirban Lahiri (IND). The top-10 players have a combined 27 career wins on the region’s elite circuit.
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han said: “There is a wonderful mix of experienced stars and upcoming talents who have qualified for the CIMB Classic from the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
“The likes of Thaworn Wiratchant, Marcus Fraser and Scott Hend have years of experience while Anirban Lahiri, Gaganjeet Bhullar, David Lipsky, Jbe Kruger, Prom Meesawat, Masanori Kobayashi and Siddikur are amongst our many emerging stars of the game.
“We are confident our players will compete well alongside our counterparts from the PGA Tour.”
Kobayashi and Lipsky, both Qualifying School graduates and winners this season, will make their debuts in the CIMB Classic along with Bhullar, Lahiri, Hend and Prom Meesawat.
Wiratchant, 45, will be expected to challenge strongly for the CIMB Classic title as he is the man in form. Last month, the Thai veteran collected a record 14th Asian Tour title with a commanding victory at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in Malaysia.
The Thai stalwart has won two other tournaments in Malaysia – the 1996 Sabah Masters and 2001 Volvo Masters of Malaysia – but a triumph at the CIMB Classic later this month would be the best yet in his highly decorated career.
Big-hitting Bhullar won the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Taipei last month after holding off Wiratchant in a thrilling duel for his third Asian Tour title while Kruger, who finished tied 28th in last year’s CIMB event, claimed a breakthrough victory on the Asian Tour at the Avantha Masters in India earlier this season.
Kobayashi was triumphant on home soil at the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open while Lahiri (SAIL-SBI Open), Lipsky (HANDA FALDO Cambodian Classic) and Hend (ISPS Handa Singapore Classic) have also stepped onto the winner’s rostrum this year.
Siddikur, the first Bangladeshi to win on the Asian Tour, will be making his second appearance in the CIMB Classic. One of Asia’s most consistent performers, he stood out in the inaugural event in 2010 at the Mines Resort by finishing tied 11th.
Sanctioned by the PGA TOUR, Asian Tour and Professional Golf Association of Malaysia, the CIMB Classic 2012 will see an international field of 48 players competing for a US$6.1 million prize purse, with US$1.3 million going to the winner.
The tournament will feature 30 players from the PGA TOUR and the top 10 available players from the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit. Eight sponsor exemptions will make up the rest of the field, with two places reserved for Malaysian professionals – Danny Chia and Shaaban Hussin.
Asian Tour Qualifiers
Marcus Fraser (AUS)
Jbe Kruger (RSA)
Masanori Kobayashi (JPN)
Thaworn Wiratchant (THA)
David Lipsky (USA)
Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND)
Prom Meesawat (THA)
Scott Hend (AUS)
Anirban Lahiri (IND)