Korea’s Baek Seuk-hyun is relishing the prospect of teeing up against some of the best players from the Asian Tour and Japan at next week’s Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup.
Sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour, the Diamond Cup boasts a lucrative prize fund of 150 million Yen (approximately $1.5 million) and will be staged at the Ohtone Country Club from Sep 25 to 28.
The Thai-based Korean has come close to winning his maiden Asian Tour title on numerous occasions since he earned his Tour card at qualifying school in 2010.
Most recently, Baek was denied a grandstand finish in Jakarta by the brilliance of India’s Anirban Lahiri in April.
He then settled for a fifth-place finish in Thailand before the Asian Tour went into its summer break in June.
“I always look forward to returning to Japan to compete. My game is okay but I’m still struggling with consistency. It’s a big event and obviously the goal is to do well next week,” said Baek.
Meanwhile Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat is hopeful of putting up a better showing after receiving a late entry into the Japanese showpiece.
Japan has never been a favourite hunting ground for the 21-year-old but he hopes for better fortunes this year.
“I like everything about the country but I’ve never made the cut there before! I don’t really get the chance to play in those conditions very often and I always found it tough playing on courses which feature bent grass, tight fairways and thick rough."
"But you never know, as I certainly hope to make a breakthrough this year,” said Panuphol.
Over 35 tournaments winners from the Asian Tour will feature at the Diamond Cup. They include current Order of Merit leader David Lipsky, who became the first player from the Asian Tour to win the co-sanctioned Omega European Masters which is the only event to be held on European soil.
Lahiri, who is second on the money list, alongside Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng, an eight-time Asian Tour winner, who has been victorious in Japan on four occasions, will also be among the favourites to win the Diamond Cup.
Japanese stars, Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara, who played key roles in securing a historic draw with Europe at this year’s EurAsia Cup, will also be in action alongside their EurAsia Cup teammates that include Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Korea’s Kim Hyung-sung.