Hopes closing for Asian OOM hopefuls

Khon Kaen, Thailand, November 27: A host of Asian Tour hopefuls will be kept on their toes as they fight to earn full playing rights for 2013 when the King's Cup tees off at the Singha Park Khon Kaen Golf Club on Thursday.

With the top-60 players on the Order of Merit earning the Tour cards for next season, it will be a fight to the end for many of the region's players who are languishing on the wrong end of the rankings.

The King's Cup, which is offering US$500,000 in total prize fund, is the third last event of the 2012 schedule and with a total of US$3.5 million still on offer, there are ample opportunities for players to control their own destiny.

South Africa's Peter Karmis, who is in 63rd place on the rankings, will be eager to prove his worth again, having gone on a two-year title drought since his maiden win at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic in 2010.

With his two-year winner's exemption ending in December, the South African will be determined to reproduce his winning form and play his way back into the safety zone at the King's Cup which is one of the three events to be played in Thailand this season.

Australia's Adam Groom is also hoping to avoid the agony of previous years where he missed out on his Tour card by the slimmest of margins. Grom is currently in 66th position.

The Australian finished the 2011 season in 66th place and in 2008, he was pipped by India's Ganganjeet Bhullar by a mere US$681 for the final spot. He finished runner-up at the Tour School earlier this year but is back on the cusp once again.

Adam Blyth 60th, Rick Kulacz 97th, David Gleeson and Tim Stewart 99th are also needing a good finish to the season although Gleeson's win at the 2011 Hero Indian Open will give him ongoing status.

On the other end of the spectrum, local hero Thaworn Wiratchant will continue his chase for a second Order of Merit title this week.

The decorated Thai veteran has already won three times this season to take his career tally to a record 15 and a return to home soil where he has won once this season will be a timely boost to his merit hopes.

Thaworn trails Merit leader Marcus Fraser of Australia by slightly over US$24,000 on the rankings but with the Australian not playing in King's Cup and next week's Thailand Golf Championship, the Thai veteran will have several opportunities to reclaim top spot.

India's Gaganjeet Bhullar, victorious twice this season, is another genuine contender to the throne.

The talented 24-year-old is currently fourth on the rankings and is bidding to add to India's proud record of having produced the most number of Order of Merit champions.

Jyoti Randhawa became the country's first Asian Tour number one in 2002 followed by Arjun Atwal in 2003 before Jeev Milkha Singh secured a double with wins in 2006 and 2008.

The King's Cup is making its return after a year's absence following the floods in the capital city of Bangkok last year and is already enjoying a welcome revival with its prize fund increasing to US$500,000 this year.


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Asian Tour