THAI STARS Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat and reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Scott Hend of Australia are the marquee players taking part in the Thailand Open, which returns to the Asian Tour after eight years this month.
The tournament, taking place at the Thai Country Club in Bangkok from May 18 to 21, offers prize money of US$300,000.
Thongchai, who left for England last night for the Golf Sixes, will return to the club where he won his last home event, in the Masters of Asia in 2006. The 47-year-old Thai was suffering from respiratory problems due to smoke and dust pollution in China, where he played in a European Tour event last week.
Thailand Golf Association (TGA) president Rungsrid Luxsitanonda hopes the presence of stars will ensure a memorable week for golf fans.
“The TGA is working closely with the Asian Tour to improve the stature and prestige of the Thailand Open, which will play a major role in developing the game in our country.”
Asian Tour CEO Josh Burack hailed the return of the event. “The Thailand Open is one of the oldest national championships in Asia and we are excited to welcome the prestigious tournament back into our fold. I am sure the staging of the event will inspire a new generation of Thai golfers,” said Burack.
The Thai Country Club has hosted Asian Tour tournaments in the past and is highly regarded as a tough test for players.
Thai Country Club general manager John Blanch said: “Our greenkeeping staff have been working very hard to ensure our golf course is in optimum condition and provide a quality test to the golfers.”
India’s Jyoti Randhawa won the Thailand Open when it was last held on the Asian Tour in 2009.