Thai spice for MPI Generali Saujana Amateur Championship

2017 champion Atiruj Winaicharoenchai

Two former winners, a SEA Games gold medallist and the world’s 24th ranked amateur will power a strong Thai challenge in next week’s MPI Generali Saujana Amateur Championship.

Defending champion Atiruj Winaicharoenchai and 2016 winner Witchayanon Chothirunrungrueng will be joined by compatriots Sadom Kaewkanjana, the 2017 Malaysian Amateur Open winner and current top Thai amateur at No 24 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, and 2017 SEA Games individual gold medallist Kosuke Hamamoto in the 31st edition of the event. Close to 90 golfers from 12 countries will vie for honours over three days (May 2-4) at Saujana’s Bunga Raya Course.

In last year’s championship, Atiruj won the coveted title by edging Chen Yi Tong of Chinese Taipei in an exciting playoff after both golfers finished regulation play tied on five-under-par. The previous year, Witchayanon also edged a player from Chinese Taipei, Wang Wei-Hsuan, in sudden death.

The player to watch will be Sadom, who has been in scintillating form recently. In late 2017, he won a professional event in Thailand, the Singha Pattaya Open in October, as well as the prestigious All India Amateur Championship in December.

Thai players celebrate in last year’s event

In addition to the trophy, prizes and World Amateur Golf Ranking points, the winner will be given a start in an Asian Development Tour (ADT) event for the second year running.

Malaysia will be well represented by the country’s leading amateurs including Chan Tuck Soon, Muhammad Afif Mohd Fathi and Mohd Afif Mohd Razif.

“The championship has been running continuously since its inception in 1988 and has become a staple and much-anticipated event in the region’s amateur scene,” said Saujana’s club manager Ken Kudo during a press conference earlier this month.

“It has been three years since a Malaysian won the event through Daeng Abdul Rahman in 2015 and we hope to see another Malaysian champion this year,” he added.

Inaugurated in 1992, the championship’s roll of honour includes some illustrious names who have gone on to successful professional careers such as Taiwanese trailblazer Chang Tse-Peng (1993), Australian stalwart Robert Allenby (1990) and Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera (2010). Malaysia’s great golfing hope Gavin Green is the championship’s only three-time winner (2009, 2011, 2012) and has already made a huge mark on the game by winning the 2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit title in his second full year as a professional.

MPI Generali Insurans Berhad returns as title sponsor for the seventh consecutive year, indicating their appreciation of the stature of the event and the mileage received.

“It is an honour for us to be a part of this championship’s aspiration of nurturing and developing talents among amateur golfers,” said the company’s chief executive officer Oliver Tan.

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