lunes, 27 de febrero de 2023

Asian Tour : Ogletree Bidding to Scale New Peaks at Black Mountain




In-form Andy Ogletree will be aiming to continue his rich vein of form when he spearheads a strong entry for the second edition of the International Series Thailand.


Six of the top-seven from the current Asian Tour Order of Merit have confirmed their participation in the event at Hua Hin’s Black Mountain Golf Club which will carry a purse of US$2 million, a 25% increase on last year’s prize money.


To be held from March 9-12, the tournament is the fifth leg of the 2023 Asian Tour season and the third stop for the International Series, following Oman and Qatar.


Riding high after winning the International Series Qatar a fortnight ago, American Ogletree is looking to further press his claims to top this year’s Merit standings.


He will also be hoping to win the International Series Order of Merit, which brings with it automatic qualification onto the ultra-lucrative LIV Golf League.


“Trying to win the Order of Merit out here is my number one goal this year. That’s all I’m really focused on,” said the 24-year-old.


In the first three Asian Tour events of 2023, Ogletree placed ninth in the PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers, tied for seventh in the International Series Oman and triumphed at Qatar’s Doha Golf Club.


“Confidence-wise, I don’t know how I could get a lot higher,” added Ogletree, whose last five starts have yielded four top-10s and two wins.


His success in Qatar meant he became the first player to capture two International Series titles, having also won the International Series Egypt last November.


At Black Mountain, Ogletree will be seeking his third title in just his 10th Asian Tour tournament. But he can expect plenty of tough opposition from an array of proven champions in Asia and Europe.


Leading a concerted Thai bid will be world number 75 Sadom Kaewkanjana, Ntithorn Thippong, Jazz Janewattananond and Phachara Khongwatmai, who posted a 24-under-par total in last year’s International Series Thailand but had to settle for second place, two shots behind American Sihwan Kim.


Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul, who recorded a brilliant second place finish in Qatar, is also competing.


Two Swedes with strong connections to Black Mountain will also be intent on stamping their mark.


Johan Edfors and Rikard Karlberg have both been supported by Black Mountain for many years and have a close affinity with the club. Indeed, after his victory in the inaugural Black Mountain Masters in 2009, Edfors bought a villa on the site and has been a regular visitor.


Like many other European professionals, Edfors and 2015 Italian Open champion Karlberg make use of Black Mountain’s outstanding practice facilities whenever they’re in the country.


They are part of a strong continent of players affiliated with Black Mountain, the others being Jazz, Swede’s Bjorn Hellgren and Sebastion Soderberg, and American Berry Henson, who was runner-up at the International Series Oman.


Next week’s field will also be buoyed by the appearance of a sprinkling of Asian Tour greats including Thai superstars Thaworn Wiratchant, Prayad Marksaeng and Chapchai Nirat, Indians Jyoti Randhawa and Jeev Milkha Singh, China’s Liang Wenchong, Singaporean Mardan Mardan, Angelo Que of the Philippines and Australian Marcus Fraser.


At the other end of the spectrum, the tournament will also welcome back amateur prodigy Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat.


Last year, ‘TK’ contended throughout, eventually finishing in a share of 11th place. A matter of weeks later, he won the Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup, becoming the youngest golfer to win on a Tour recognised by the Official World Golf Ranking at the age of 15 years and 37 days.

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