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Date [ 2011-11-29, 19:25 ]




 Hong Kong, November 29:  India’s S.S.P. Chowrasia is not throwing in the towel in his bid to catch Filipino Juvic Pagunsan in the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit race at this week’s UBS Hong Kong Open.


The 33-year-old Chowrasia trails Pagunsan by about US$288,000 with two events remaining this season and the Indian is hopeful that a new driver in the bag will steer him back on track in his dream to become Asia’s number one.


A return to the fabled Hong Kong Golf Club, the permanent home of the UBS Hong Kong Open, is giving him an extra dose of confidence and Chowrasia hopes to translate all his positive vibes into a top finish against a world-class field which includes title holder Ian Poulter, world number two Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.


“My feel is very good and I always enjoy playing here. It looks similar to my home course in Calcutta. The grass is the same, the greens are a bit grainy which I feel comfortable. That’s why I like it here,” said Chowrasia, whose best finish in Hong Kong was tied 22nd two years ago.


“There’s a bit of a difference in the Merit lead now but I’m aiming for a top-three or top-five here to take the race to the last tournament. I still have two tournaments to catch him.”


Poor driving has been Chowrasia’s bane in the past few months and he spent countless of hours last week working on his swing with his coach. The ever-smiling Indian will put a new driver in the bag this week in hope of hitting more fairways at the tree-lined Hong Kong Golf Club.


“Last week, I practised really hard, the whole day basically. I got out by eight in the morning and hit balls till 12 noon, went home for some lunch and then out again hitting balls till late afternoon and playing a few holes. I hit drivers most of the time at the range. We worked on certain things and I think it’s getting better,” he said.


“I’m trying a new driver here which is much better than my old driver. The old one, I was hitting it both directions but with the new one, it’s going only one way. I feel better knowing where it’s going.”


With the pressure mounting as the Asian Tour season reaches its climax, Chowrasia is counting on his experienced caddie Bunty Randhawa to steer the ship when the going gets tough. “He’s a great caddie. On the golf course, he’s very serious and knows what to do. He gives me all the details, the right yardages and the lines. Off the course, he’s very funny. He’s always got a joke. It helps keep me relaxed,” said Chowrasia.


Three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee is hoping to find the legs to carry him to a record 14th career victory. This week will be his 10th straight tournament but the Thai star is not putting down his own hopes of a successful week at the UBS Hong Kong Open which is jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.


In his last six starts in Hong Kong, Thongchai has never finished outside the top-20 and recorded a second and a third place finish in 2007 and 2006 respectively. “I like the golf course. You don’t need driver on too many holes. You need to think a lot and it’s always going to be down to the putting,” said the former paratrooper.


“I’m hitting it really good except for my putting which isn’t great. At the World Cup, my putting wasn’t great. It’s always down to the putting. If I can putt well, I will have a good chance. I’ve got two more events left (to try to get a win),” added Thongchai, who is ninth on the Order of Merit.


At the opposite end of the Merit race, Malaysia’s Ben Leong, currently ranked 84th, is fighting tooth-and-nail to claw his way into the top-60 to keep his Tour card. Two top-25s here is giving him some confidence ahead of his challenge.


“I like this place. Hopefully I can repeat or better those results which is my goal this week,” said Leong, who won the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in 2008 for his lone Asian Tour victory.


“The course suits my eye. I pretty much grew up on a golf course like this. It feels like home. I don’t look at the Order of Merit anymore. I know what I need to do.”


For further information, please contact Asian Tour’s Chuah Choo Chiang at the media centre tel: +852 2671 3872. Also visit www.asiantour.com for live scoring this week.


About the UBS Hong Kong Open

The Hong Kong Open is Hong Kong’s oldest professional sporting event. Beginning in 1959, the Hong Kong Open has a rich history of winners including nine different Major Champions who have amassed 25 Major titles between them.  UBS, the diversified global financial services company, has been title sponsor of the event since 2005 during which time it has overseen a substantial rise in the tournament’s prize money.  Under the stewardship of UBS, the total prize fund has increased every year from US$1.2 million in the 2006 season to the US$2.75 million figure which will be on offer at the Fanling venue in December.


The UBS Hong Kong Open is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the Hong Kong Golf Association.


About the Mega Event Fund

This year, the UBS Hong Kong Open is supported by the Mega Event Fund of the Hong Kong Government.  The Mega Events Fund was set up in 2009 to support mega arts, cultural and sports events to be staged in Hong Kong.


About UBS

UBS draws on its 150-year heritage to serve private, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as retail clients in Switzerland. We combine our wealth management, investment banking and asset management businesses with our Swiss operations to deliver superior financial solutions.


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