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Golf: Thongchai targets top 10; Lahiri wants “to beat most of them”

Thongchai Jaidee, 44, is aiming for a top-10 finish in this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai. Photos: Asian Tour.

Thongchai Jaidee, 44, is aiming for a first top-10 finish in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Photos: Asian Tour.

November 5, 2014: Thongchai Jaidee is targeting a top-10 finish at this week’s US$8.5million WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai as the 44-year-old Thai seeks to close the gap on the world’s top players.

 

The EurAsia Cup captain, who holds a record three Asian Tour Order of Merit titles and 13 titles on the circuit, is banking on his rich form of vein to steer him towards his goal at the Sheshan International Golf Club.

 

“I’ve never finished inside the top 10 on this course before and I really hope to do it this year, especially with the form I’m in,” said Thongchai, currently World No. 42. “This is a very challenging course and it’s important to get your ball onto the fairways. The rough is quite thick and the greens will be fast. It’ll be a good test for all of us.”

 

Thongchai has enjoyed an excellent season, having won his second title on European soil in Sweden along with seven top 10s, and wants to finish the year well placed on the world ranking.

 

“This is one of the best years of my career and I’m having the time of my life,” he said. “If I can finish the year inside the top 50 again like I did last year, I’ll be happy.”

 

The veteran also expressed his delight with the emergence of Asian golfers in recent times, highlighting India’s Anirban Lahiri as one to watch.

 

“There are a couple of us (Asian players) this week, but we’re definitely moving up the ranks,” Thongchai said. “Players like Anirban are in-form at the moment and I hope everyone including myself will play well to show everyone what we’re capable of.”

 

Anirban Lahiri on the elite field featuring 40 of the world’s top 50: “Nothing would give me more pleasure than to beat most of them.”

Anirban Lahiri on a field featuring 40 of the top 50: “Nothing would give me more pleasure than to beat most of them.”

Lahiri, Americans David Lipsky and Jason Knutzon, and Filipino Antonio Lascuna earned spots at Sheshan through the Asian Tour Order of Merit, but will face a tough test in a field that features 40 of the world’s top 50. However, Lahiri is ready to put up a performance befitting of his status as an Asian heavyweight.

 

“Obviously I’ve looked up to a lot of these guys, but I think over the last two or three years, I played more and more with some of the world’s best players and I’ve beaten a lot of them in many of the events,” said Lahiri, the World No. 73.

 

“I definitely have the confidence and the game to compete with them. I’m here this week and nothing would give me more pleasure than to beat most of them.”

 

Lahiri’s confidence further stems from the growing testimonials he has received from the world’s leading players including four-time major winner Ernie Els, who is also competing in Shanghai this week.

 

“I played with Ernie last year in Chiangmai and we’ve met a few times, and he’s always saying a lot of good things to me,” said Lahiri, who will play his opening two rounds with American JB Holmes and Scotland’s Marc Warren.

 

“I’ve also played with a bunch of PGA Tour guys and everybody looks to me and says, ‘What are you doing here? Why aren’t you playing with us in America? You’ve got the game. You’ve got the ability.’ So it’s not one but a number of players who have encouraged me and given me lots of confidence. It comes down to executing in events like this and I’m really eager to do that.”

 

Lahiri, a five-time Asian Tour winner, has already enjoyed two wins in Indonesia and Macau this year along with five top-10s to lie in second place on the Order of Merit, which is expected to go down the wire this season.

 

“One of the goals would be to win the Order of Merit, as it comes with lots of incentives. I’ve got another three or four events on the Asian Tour that count and I’m going to try to threaten David [Lipsky] for that No. 1 spot.”

 

The WGC-HSBC Champions is one of four World Golf Championships sanctioned and organised by the operational committee of the International Federation of PGA Tours.

 

Source: Asian Tour (www.asiantour.com); Editing by SportAsia

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