Chowrasia keen to wrest Asian No.1 at Hong Kong Open
Hong Kong: India`s SSP Chowrasia is not throwing in the towel in his bid to catch Filipino Juvic Pagunsan in the Asian Tour`s Order of Merit race at this week`s UBS Hong Kong Open golf.
The 33-year-old Chowrasia trails Pagunsan by about $288,000 with two events remaining this season, and the Indian is hopeful that a new driver in the bag will steer him back on track in his dream to become Asia`s number one.
A return to the fabled Hong Kong Golf Club, the permanent home of the UBS Hong Kong Open, is giving him an extra dose of confidence and Chowrasia hopes to translate all his positive vibes into a top finish against a world-class field which includes title holder Ian Poulter, world number two Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
"My feel is very good and I always enjoy playing here. It looks similar to my home course in Calcutta. The grass is the same, the greens are a bit grainy which I feel comfortable. That is why I like it here," said Chowrasia, whose best finish in Hong Kong was tied 22nd two years ago.
"There is a bit of a difference in the Merit lead now but I am aiming for a top-three or top-five here to take the race to the last tournament. I still have two tournaments to catch him."
Poor driving has been Chowrasia`s bane in the past few months and he spent countless of hours last week working on his swing with his coach. The ever-smiling Indian will put a new driver in the bag this week in hope of hitting more fairways at the tree-lined Hong Kong Golf Club.
"Last week, I practised really hard, the whole day basically. I got out by eight in the morning and hit balls till 12 noon, went home for some lunch and then out again hitting balls till late afternoon and playing a few holes. I hit drivers most of the time at the range. We worked on certain things and I think it`s getting better," he said.
With the pressure mounting as the Asian Tour season reaches its climax, Chowrasia is counting on his experienced caddie Bunty Randhawa to steer the ship when the going gets tough.
"He`s a great caddie. On the golf course, he is very serious and knows what to do. He gives me all the details, the right yardages and the lines. Off the course, he is very funny. He has always got a joke. It helps keep me relaxed," said Chowrasia.
Three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee is hoping to find the legs to carry him to a record 14th career victory. This week will be his 10th straight tournament but the Thai star is not putting down his own hopes of a successful week at the tournament which is jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
In his last six starts in Hong Kong, Thongchai has never finished outside the top-20 and recorded a second and a third place finish in 2007 and 2006 respectively.
At the opposite end of the Merit race, Malaysia`s Ben Leong, currently ranked 84th, is fighting tooth-and-nail to claw his way into the top-60 to keep his Tour card. Two top-25s here is giving him some confidence ahead of his challenge.
"I like this place. Hopefully, I can repeat or better those results which is my goal this week," said Leong, who won the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in 2008 for his lone Asian Tour victory.