Ten-time Asian Tour winner Prayad Marksaeng is relishing the opportunity to compete in another “home” event as he knows he is still young enough to compete for his 11th Asian Tour title at the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup which starts on Thursday.
At 53, Prayad has also enjoyed multiple success in Japan and with more than two decades of playing in the Land of the Rising Sun, he has good reason to believe he can do it one more time.
While he is at ease with playing in Japan, however, he is wary of the challenges from his younger rivals and hopes to draw on his experience to be in contention at the Sobu Country Club east of Tokyo.
“I like playing in the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup because I got a good track record at this event,” said the Thai veteran, a six-time winner on the Japan Tour. “I won this event in 2008 although it was not on this golf course. But it’s still feels good to play in an event which you know you’ve won before.”
Prayad was the Japan Senior Tour’s No 1 player in 2016-17 – he plays both the Japan Tour and Japan Senior Tour at the same time.
“I’ve been playing in Japan for almost 25 years and I’m very familiar with the golf courses here,” said the man regarded as a legend in Thai golf.
“I’m still young but it’s great to see the even younger boys from Thailand doing well. They just need to continue to gain more experience, playing in big events like this to gain more exposure and get used to the various playing conditions.”
A total of 13 Thai contenders will test their mettle in the first Asian Tour stop in Japan this year.
Among them are in-form Prom Meesawat, winner of the Singha Thailand Masters and ADT Brunei Open this year, and tour rookie Sadom Kaewkanjana, winner of the ADT Thongchai Jaidee Foundation and Asian Tour Bangladesh Open.
With the involvement of the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the tournament has welcomed a large number of amateurs over the years.
New Zealand’s Ben Campbell, who earned his Asian Tour card from Qualifying School last year, had the opportunity to play in the event before he joined the play-for-pay ranks and still holds fond memories of his time then.
As a professional now, Campbell is hoping for that breakthrough on the Asian Tour, having come close on a few occasions already.
Having secured his Tour card through the Asian Development Tour (ADT), Japan’s Shinichi Mizuno is on a steep learning curve but is hoping to make the cut for the first time in four attempts this year.
The Nagoya- born Mizuno moved to Hong Kong when he was a six-year-old and won his maiden ADT title at the season-ending event in Malaysia last year.