Top golfers to participate in Ballantine’s Championship

Seoul, April 17 (IANS) The region’s top stars are set to light up the scene when the sixth edition of the Ballantine’s Championship returns to the Blackstone Golf Club April 25-28.

Past and present Asian Tour Order of Merit winners will vie for top honours at the 2.2 million euro showpiece which will be the first event to be played in Korea on the Asian Tour this season.

Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, who holds the record of having won three Merit titles, will spearhead Asia’s charge alongside compatriot Thaworn Wiratchant, India’s Jeev Milkha Singh and China’s Liang Wen-chong. Current Asian Tour No.1 Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand will also be seeking his second title of the season.

No fewer than 30 champions from the Asian Tour are also poised to battle against the heavyweights from the European Tour which will be headlined by 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen. American Ryder Cup stars Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson are also expected to feature prominently on the leaderboard.

So far, Thongchai and Australia’s Marcus Fraser remain as the only Asian Tour players to have won the Ballantine’s Championship in 2009 and 2010, respectively. After suffering the disappointment of missing out on his third Masters appearance, Thongchai, a 13-time Asian Tour winner, will be looking to reignite his winning ambitions and reproduce his early season form where he enjoyed three successive top-10s in South Africa and the Middle East.

Singh, a two-time Asian Tour No.1, is also hoping to add another title to his proud record of six Asian Tour titles and multiple victories on the Japan and European Tours, including last year’s Scottish Open. Long regarded as the flag bearer for golf in India, Singh’s two Order of Merit triumphs came in 2006 and 2008 on the Asian Tour.

Asian Tour honorary member, Y.E Yang of Korea can expect another rousing reception from home fans as he bids to become the first Korean to win the tourney which was won by Austrian Bernd Wiesberger last year. His best result was last year when he finished tied-15th. The Korean, will be determined to celebrate his homecoming with another worthy performance befitting of his status as Asia’s first Major winner.

Other Asian Tour stars expected to feature prominently include India’s Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar and Australia’s Scott Hend.

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