MACAU, China, September 15 – Asian tour man of the moment Himmat Rai is hoping to follow up his extraordinary win at the sixth extra hole at last week’s ISPS Handa Singapore Classic at the Macau Open, starting Thursday.
“All the work that I put in four weeks before the event paid off. I played extremely well and I’m glad it worked out like how it did.”
Rai missed the cut at the 2008 and 2009 Macau Opens but insisted he is a different and better player now.
“I was unprepared when I last played in Macau. I’m going to be focusing more on the shots that I require and taking it from there. This is a course where you must know where to hit the ball. You have to do your homework well.”
He will be joined in the US$750,000 Asian Tour event at the Macau Golf and Country Club by countryman and Order of Merit leader S.S.P. Chowrasia, and title holder Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand.
Past winners of the tournament include Lee Westwood of England (1999) and Colin Montgomerie of Scotland (2003).
Along with Thaworn, two other Asian former winners, China’s Zhang Lian-wei (2001 & 2002) and Lu Wen-teh of Taiwan will be taking part.
Rikard Karlberg of Sweden, the Asian Tour Rookie of the Year in 2010 when he won two titles and finished third on the Order of Merit, has yet to secure a top-10 Asian Tour finish this year and is looking to turn his season around.
“My goal is to finish higher on the Asian Tour Order of Merit to give myself a chance of climbing up the world rankings as well,” he said.
“At the end of the year I want to try and finish in the top 100. And in the future I hope to break into the top 50.
“I started good in Asia and Europe but now I’ll concentrate more on the Asian Tour. I feel like I need to get back in the groove.”
Hong Kong’s Asian Tour rookie Timothy Tang, who earned his tour card at qualifying school earlier this year but is yet to claim a single pay cheque after missing six consecutive cuts, is hoping for a lucky break.
Macau is an hour’s ferry ride from Hong Kong and Tang said: “I need to stay positive and treat it like I’m playing at home. I put too much pressure on myself and I need to learn and play my game.”
The Macau Open presented by Cityneon is returning to the Asian Tour schedule after a one year hiatus.