Ghei leads Asian challenge at the Beijing Open

May 6th, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by admin  

Beijing, May 6 (IANS) Defending champion Gaurav Ghei leads a strong Asian challenge in the $1 million Pine Valley Beijing Open beginning Thursday. Ghei, who won his third Asian Tour title in Pine Valley last year, called it a satisfying win. It came eight months after his second one and 11 years after his maiden victory here.

“I wanted to win another tournament to prove to myself that my previous win was not a fluke and to do it in Beijing in such a short span of time was very satisfying. I put in a lot of hard work and it felt great to win it again,” said Ghei.

Ghei plays with Prayad Marksaeng and Hirofumi Miyase, while India has two other challengers in Rahil Gangjee and Amandeep Johl. Gangjee tees off with Antonio Lascuna and Masatsugu Morofuji and Johl goes out with Hiromichi Kubo and Kang Wook Soon.

Former Asian number ones Thongchai Jaidee and Thaworn Wiratchant and proven tournament winners Angelo Que of the Philippines, Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei, Korea’s Lee Sung, Australian Kane Webber and England’s Chris Rodgers are also in the elite field.

Leading the Japanese challenge will be Hiroyuki Fujita, who won the 2003 Okinawa Open, the first co-sanctioned event of Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.

The 38-year-old Fujita will be hoping to notch another successful outing at the Pine Valley Beijing Open which for the first time is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour and China Golf Association and with its prize money being doubled to a record $1 million.

“This course is designed by Jack Nicklaus. So the layout is great and I am looking forward to an exciting week. It would be great to win here as I would then earn full playing rights on the Asian Tour as wel,” Fujita said.

Fujita will be joined by Tetsuji Hiratsuka, Sushi Ishigaki, Katsumasa Miyamoto, Tatsuhiko Takahashi and Hideki Kase, who all have proven track record.

Japan’s Ishigaki is also relishing his return to the region especially after playing on the Asian Tour for several seasons.

“I am happy to be playing here as I have a lot of old friends. I’ve played in Asia before and it’s great to be back.”

In-form Korean youngster Noh Seung-yul will be hoping to carry his form after securing his third runner-up finish in the GS Caltex Maekyung Open last weekend.

Noh has one last chance of becoming the Asian Tour’s youngest winner before his 17th birthday on May 29. Noh lost in a play-off battle to compatriot Hwang Inn-choon but is upbeat about his chances here.

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