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Thai kingpins Thongchai Jaidee and Thaworn Wiratchant, who have a combined 28 Asian Tour victories, will battle for supremacy at next week's US$500,000 King's Cup on home soil. Thongchai and Thaworn headline the event with no fewer than 33 Asian Tour winners heading to the Singha Park Khon Kaen Golf Club in Khon Kaen from November 29 to December 2. The event is making a welcome return after a one-year lapse due to the floods which hit the country last year.
Newcomer David Lipsky of the United States, winner of the HANDA FALDO Cambodian Classic earlier this year, Chan Yih-shin of Chinese Taipei, who won the King's Cup in 2009, and the in-form Shiv Kapur of India will also feature in the event.
Exciting Thai talents Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Arnond Vongvanij are among the local hopefuls who include defending champion Udorn Duangdecha, Chawalit Plaphol, Chapchai Nirat and Prom Meesawat, who is currently sixth on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit.
Thaworn, who holds a record 15 Asian Tour victories, is on a mission to win the Order of Merit for the second time since 2005 and he is likely to overtake Merit leader Marcus Fraser of Australia, who has opted not to play in the remaining three events of the season due to clashes with tournaments in Australia.
Just over US$24,000 separate the two players but Thaworn will be firmly be in the driver's seat if he wins the King's Cup which offers a US$79,250 winner's pay cheque.
Winning the King's Cup will give Thaworn a unique double as he was triumphant at the Queen's Cup in June.
"I want to play my best and hopefully it'll be good enough to win the Order of Merit for the second time," said Thaworn, who has accumulated US$628,131 this season from three victories in the Queen's Cup, Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in Malaysia and Hero Indian Open.
Countryman Thongchai, winner of three Asian Tour Order of Merit crowns and 13 titles, has enjoyed a solid year so far, highlighted by his first victory on European soil at the ISPS Handa Wales Open in June. However, it is a win on the Asian Tour which he is after as he seeks to end his year on a high note.
Like most Thai players, Thongchai is keen to keep the revered King's Trophy on home soil as he aims to win the event which he finished tied 11th in 2009.
With three more events left on the 2012 Asian Tour Schedule, all eyes will also be on the race to the top-60 of the Order of Merit, which players need to finish in at the end of the year to earn full playing rights on the 2013 Asian Tour season.
Among those looking to make a move inside the safety zone at the King's Cup include Namchok Tantipokhakul of Thailand (62nd), Adam Groom of Australia (66th), Mars Pucay of the Philippines (71st) and Quincy Quek of Singapore (79th).
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