Gangjee leads 12-man Indian challenge in Thailand

June 25th, 2008 - 7:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Chiang Rai, June 25 (IANS) Rahil Gangjee leads a huge Indian challenge of 12 golfers at the $300,000 Singha Thailand PGA Championship at the Robert Trent Jones Jr-designed Santiburi Country Club Thursday. Gangjee, fresh from a victory in his hometown Kolkata on the PGTI Indian Tour, will have for company Asian Tour regulars, Digvijay Singh, who was fourth at the season-opener, Emaar-MGF Indian Masters, and Gaganjeet Bhullar, fifth at the SAIL Open.

The Indian challenge also sees a lot of young faces, notably like Anirban Lahiri, Ranjit Singh, and Himmat Rai. Interestingly, there will be two Ranjit Singhs in the fray, with the senior Ranjit from Chandigarh, also making a rare trip out of India on the Asian Tour.

Other Indians in the field are veteran Firoze Ali, seasoned Arjun Singh and Amandeep Johl, Harmeet Kahlon, winner of 2002 Hero Honda Indian Masters, and Gurbaaz Mann.

Meanwhile, Thai star Prayad Marksaeng, who will bid for a third victory in a month this week, has attributed his spectacular form to meditation and a putting tip from his young sons. The home hero headlines the Championship presented by Sports Authority of Thailand.

The 41-year-old Prayad won successive events in Japan and sprinkled besides a seventh and third place finish in his previous two Asian Tour starts. A return to the Santiburi Country Club Chiang Rai, a venue he calls ‘home’ following three wins here, has him oozing with confidence.

While Prayad has won six times on the Asian Tour, he was tagged the ‘nearly-man’ in Japan until his stunning wins this month which has helped him rise to 70th in the world rankings and earned him a place in next month’s British Open.

Thaworn Wiratchant, who won a record 10th Asian Tour title at the Bangkok Airways Open earlier this month, played down his chances and tipped his close friend Prayad for more glory in this northern city of Thailand.

Malaysia’s Danny Chia will be looking for a good performance here to boost his confidence ahead of his appearance at the British Open next month but knows that he must keep his driver in the bag to have a shot at the title.

The international challenge will be led by Australian Terry Pilkadaris, who is a three-time winner on the Asian Tour. Fresh from a two-week stint in Europe, Pilkadaris summed up the week’s challenge aptly.

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