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Thursday, May 24th

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Thai star Thaworn Wiratchant rediscovered his best form when he won the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship (TPC) for an unprecedented 16th Asian Tour title on Sunday. The reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, whose best result prior to this week was tied 28th in May, battled to a four-under-par 68 for a 13-under-par 275 total to win by one-shot at the US$500,000 Asian Tour event.

Overnight leader Kim, winner of the Asian Tour Qualifying School in January, led for most of the round but stumbled in the closing stretch when he made three straight bogeys from the 15th hole. He settled for second after shooting a 70 at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club.

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Reigning Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant is waiting anxiously for the arrival of his golf equipment as he prepares for his second Open Championship challenge which starts on Thursday.

His golf set did not arrive from London and the Thai star was clearly disappointed to miss a practice round at Muirfield with countrymen Kiradech Aphibarnrat, the current  Order of Merit leader and Thongchai Jaidee, a three-time Asian Tour number one on Tuesday.

“It is disappointing because I won’t know how the course is playing yet. I’ll just have to wait for my clubs. If it doesn’t arrive then I’ll have to make a set here,” lamented Thaworn, who is grouped with Lucas Glover of the United States and Oscar Floren of Sweden in the opening two rounds.

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Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand is gearing up for the biggest challenge of his career when he makes his Major debut at The Open Championship at Muirfield next week. The big-hitting Kiradech, who secured his second Asian Tour title at the Maybank Malaysian Open in March, is determined to put on his best performance despite his unfamiliarity with links golf.

“I’ve been trying to work on my swing because the conditions will be different at The Open. The wind will be a big challenge for us (Asians) because we don’t play in windy conditions in Asia,” said the 23-year-old.

“I’ve played in several links-type golf courses in Japan but it is different in Scotland. It will be very windy and it might even rain. It will be tough. I must feel comfortable with the conditions,” added Kiradech.

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Defending champion Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand believes the prospect of playing for the Queen’s honour will spur him to do well when the Queen’s Cup returns for its fifth edition at the Santiburi Samui Country Club in Koh Samui from June 13 to 16. Thaworn’s victory at the Queen’s Cup last year sparked a magnificent record-breaking season where he won two other tournaments and subsequently became the oldest Asian Tour number one.

“It’s always an honour for me to play in the Queen’s Cup. I always make it a point to fit that event into my hectic schedule,”said the 46-year-old.

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Asian Tour No. 1 Thaworn Wiratchant hopes to defy the odds by becoming the first Thai golfer to play in all four rounds at the Masters Tournament when he makes his debut next week. The 46-year-old  veteran star was invited by Augusta National Golf Club to play in the year’s opening Major following a stellar season in 2012 where he won three times and became the oldest player to win the Order of Merit on the region’s premier circuit.

He follows the footsteps of countrymen Sukree Onsham, Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng to tee up alongside the world’s elite at the fabled tournament but hopes to do what the trio failed to achieve – qualify for the weekend rounds.

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Masters-bound Thaworn Wiratchant says winning next week’s Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia PGA Championship on OneAsia would be the perfect send off to Augusta. The veteran Thai received an invitation to the Masters in early April on the back of a glorious 2012 season that saw him take the number one spot in Asia for the second time after winning four international titles to bring his career tally to 20.

“I am looking forward to playing the tournament and a victory would be great for my confidence just ahead of the Masters,” said Thaworn, a two-time winner of the Indonesia Open including the 2011 title on OneAsia. “I have won two tournaments in Indonesia and hopefully I can make it three.”

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The Asian Tour's 2012 season will be remembered for the age-defying heroics of Thaworn Wiratchant, the success of fellow veterans Thongchai Jaidee and Jeev Milkha Singh and the emergence of young stars led by Gaganjeet Bhullar, David Lipsky and Arnond Vongvanij.

In a memorable year which saw the Asian Tour sanction 27 tournaments in Asia worth US$44.5 million to the region's top stars, Thaworn, who turns 46 on December 28, enjoyed a season to remember with three magnificent victories which earned him a second Order of Merit crown since 2005.

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