Taipei: Chinese Taipei`s Tsai Chi-huang will lead a group of winners in their 40s into next week`s $600,000 Taiwan Masters where he will seek to defend his title and secure a hat-trick of victories at the Taiwan Golf and Country Club.
The tournament has been the mainstay of the Asian Tour and will welcome over 30 Tour champions and players as they battle for the winner`s prize purse of $120,000 from Oct 3-6.
Tsai`s convincing four-shot victory last year was his second triumph at the Asian Tour`s richest event in Chinese Taipei following his maiden triumph in 2002. For the 44-year-old, the event represents another opportunity to be part of the 40-something brigade who have won in 40s.
"Age is really just a number. I don`t feel old and I`m just enjoying my game at the moment. I felt really lucky when I won last year but of course it also helps when I know the course so well," said Tsai.
Tsai will have the company of fellow veterans Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand (46), Singapore`s Mardan Mamat (45) as well as compatriot Lu Wen-teh (51), who will be banking on his home course advantage to steer him towards another Taiwan Masters following his previous wins in 2007 and 2008.
"I`m very proud that I can still win professional tournaments even at the age of 46. I`ve been struggling with my irons lately but my short game has helped to make up for it. Hopefully, everything will come together nicely as we embark on this exciting run of events," said Thaworn.
Philippines` Angelo Que, Bangladesh`s Siddikur, Thailand`s Prayad Marksaeng and Pariya Junhasavasdikul are also among the likely contenders expected to put up a strong fight at the tourney.
Local hopefuls Lin Wen-tang, Chan Yih-shih and Lu Wei-chih, who have a combined total of 11 Asian Tour titles, will be eyeing further glory with India`s Gaganjeet Bhullar, Australia`s Scott Hend and current Order of Merit leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand.