Ghei returns to defend Pine Valley Beijing Open title

May 7th, 2008 - 9:22 pm ICT by admin  

Beijing, May 7 (IANS) Gaurav Ghei returns to Pine Valley Golf Course as the defending champion and that gives him immense pleasure. “It’s great to be back here. Returning to Pine Valley Beijing event, which I have won before, is always special,” Ghai said.

This time around the event has a difference, being co-sanctioned by the Japan Tour, which means Ghei will need to battle his way through the top Japanese stars.

Hoping to return to the leading fray since his top-10 result at the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters in February, the New-Delhi based Ghei will be determined to emulate his 2007 success, which spurred him to a stunning season last year.

“Defending a title is very tough but no one can take away the fact that I was the first ever winner of this event last year. There is a strong Japanese field here and that would make it a real challenge out there, so we’ll see what happens,” said the experienced star, who won the 2006 Mercuries Taiwan Masters which ended his 11-year drought on the Asian Tour.

Among the top Asian Tour stars present at the Pine Vallley Golf Club include Korean youngster Noh Seung-yul, who finished runner-up at the GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship last week, former Asian number ones Thongchai Jaidee and Thaworn Wiratchant, former US PGA Tour player Scott Hend and local favourite Zhang Lian-wei.

The Japanese contingent will feature their winning stars in the name of Tetsuji Hiratsuka, Katsumasa Miyamoto, Hiroyuki Fujita, the 2003 Okinawa Open winner, and Sushi Ishigaki.

Also familiar to success is Japan’s top contender Miyamoto who will be hoping for a slice of the US$1 million prize money on offer this week.

“I hope to do my best and take the top spot. It is very exciting for all the Japanese players to be able to compete here and I’m sure we will all try to impress in our first tournament outside of Japan,” said Miyamoto, who won the first event on the Japan circuit this season at the Token Homemate Cup.

China’s adored golfer Zhang is pleased to have the presence of the Asian and Japanese giants in the Chinese capital this week, which is a reflection of the growth of golf in the region.

“I finished in the top-10 last year and I will aim for a top-five this week but with all the Japanese stars here, it will be an uphill battle,” said Zhang.

Thai star Thongchai is pepped up and is ready for a blast at the Olympic city hoping for a turnaround after his back injury sustained early this year.

“My back still hurts slightly. I missed the cut in Shanghai because of it but I hope it will not repeat here. My father-in-law passed away last week so I hardly had time to practice. I’m not 100 per cent fit but I will try my best,” admitted Thongchai.

The event is being sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour along with the Asian Tour and China Golf Association.

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