New Delhi: In-form Thai golfer Chawalit Plaphol will lead a cosmopolitan cast of Asian Tour champions when the region's premier Tour heads to the USD 300,000 SAIL-SBI Open next week. Sweet-swinging Chawalit claimed his career fourth title at the Myanmar Open last Sunday to emerge as one of the early favourites for the SAIL-SBI Open, which celebrates its sixth edition this year.
Over 25 other Tour champions have signed up for the second leg of the 2013 schedule, which marks Asian Tour's milestone 10th season since it was launched as a players' organisation in 2004. Other top names who will head to the venerable Delhi Golf Club from March 6-9 include American Berry Henson, Sweden's Rikard Karlberg, who has won twice previously in India including the 2010 edition, Australian Darren Beck and big-hitting Scott Hend, Singapore's Mardan Mamat and Thailand's Chapchai Nirat, who shot a world-record of 32-under-par 256 at the event in 2009.
Sri Lanka's Mithun Perera, who finished second in Myanmar, will be eager to maintain his flying start to his first full season on the Asian Tour while French rookie Lionel Webber, Singapore's Quincy Quek and India's Rahil Gangjee will be hoping to build on last week's top-10 performances in Yangon. All eyes will be on Chawalit following his superb victory over Perera where he needed two closing birdies to win the title by one shot. The 38-year-old Thai believes the early season victory will pave the way for a great year ahead.
SSP Chowrasia, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar and title holder Anirban Lahiri will lead India's challenge.
"I'm happy but a first win in two years is not enough. I want to win more Asian Tour titles. This win gives me more confidence to play on the Asian Tour," said Chawalit. Perera underlined his growing potential by challenging Chawalit for the title by closing with a superb 65. Disappointed he did not take home the winner's trophy, Perera reckons his time will soon come.
"All you need is one good week to turn your life around. I feel my time is coming soon. I try my best in every tournament and I think the win is not far away," said Perera. S.S.P. Chowrasia, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar and title holder Anirban Lahiri will lead India's challenge. Former Asian No.1 Jyoti Randhawa, who has triumphed on multiple occasions at the Delhi Golf Club, will also be expected to launch a title charge next week along with Digvijay Singh, holder of the Panasonic Open India title.
The SAIL-SBI Open is one of four Asian Tour events which will feature prominently in India. It will be followed by the Avantha Masters and Panasonic Open India in April. The Hero Indian Open is slated towards the second half of the year.`