BANGKOK – Thongchai Jaidee has expressed his pride and confidence in the XXX players who will be the representative hosts from Thailand during the fourth Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. The event will be held from November 1-4 at Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, outside Bangkok.
Poom Saksansin, who competed in the 2009 and 2010 Championships, and Natipong Srithong, who finished 17th on his debut in Singapore last year, are Thailand’s highest-ranked amateurs.
Chanachoke Dejpiratanamongkol, who teamed up with Poom and Natipong to help Thailand win team gold in the 2011 Southeast Asia (SEA) Games, and Chirat Jirasuwan will also play in the Championship again, having competed in Singapore.
Nattawat Suvajanakorn was Thailand’s top finisher in this month’s World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey and will make his Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship debut along with fellow youngster Danthai Boonma, winner of this year’s Lion City Cup, the junior competition of the Southeast Asian Amateur Golf Team Championship.
Nanfa Somnuek, Prin Sirisommai and ?US-based Chanat ‘Joe’ Sakulpolphaisan, who currently plays for Mississippi State University?, are the other first-time competitors from Thailand.
The Championship offers the winner an invitation to the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club and, along with the runner(s)-up, a spot in International Final Qualifying (IFQ) for The Open Championship.
Thongchai, who is a Tournament Ambassador for this year’s championship, had a stellar amateur career before turning pro in 1999 and believes his nine young compatriots will relish playing in front of home fans in such a prestigious tournament.
“I was really excited to see the Thailand players confirmed for the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship as they can now focus on preparing for the event and making Thailand proud in front of their home supporters,” said Thongchai, a three-time Asian Tour No. 1 and a five-time European Tour winner.
“Poom Saksansin and Natipong Srithong represent our top-ranked and most experienced amateurs. Both have won important amateur events in Southeast Asia and have a lot of experience in regional and continental competitions.
“We are represented with a great deal of talent and I believe all XXXX players will make the most of this opportunity to play in Asia-Pacific’s leading amateur event. It will also be a special occasion for the players’ families and friends.”
Poom is Thailand’s highest-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and has been a player to watch since 2010 when he won the individual title at the Putra Cup, the Southeast Asian Amateur Golf Team Championship that Thongchai won twice. This year, Poom was runner-up in the Malaysian Amateur Open and fourth in the Putra Cup in Jakarta.
Natipong finished second in the Putra Cup to confirm his standing as one of Southeast Asia’s top amateurs. Last year, he won the Thailand Amateur Match Play in Hua Hin, the Indonesian Amateur Open in East Java and the 77th Singha Thailand Amateur Open in Bangkok before earning an individual silver medal in the SEA Games in November.
In August, Natipong and Poom were impressive alongside professionals on the OneAsia Tour by making the cut in the prestigious Thailand Open, finishing as the top two amateurs.
The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship is organised by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), the Masters Tournament and The R&A, and will feature up to 120 players from the APGC’s 36 member associations.
Hideki Matsuyama is among the favourites as he attempts to win a third consecutive title after victories at home in Japan in 2010 and in Singapore last year. Matsuyama earned invitations to the Masters Tournament, winning the 2011 Silver Cup as low amateur after finishing tied 27th and making the cut again this April, finishing 54th at Augusta National Golf Club.
The Championship will be broadcast to more than 150 countries, confirming it as the world’s most televised amateur golf tournament.
STAR Sports will broadcast live coverage on all four days in Thailand (3.00pm-5.00pm) and many other countries and territories across Asia. Tokyo Broadcasting System (Japan), SBS Golf (Korea), Guangdong Golf Channel (China), Fox Sports (Australia), Sky Sports (New Zealand) and Fox Sports (Middle East) will broadcast to other key markets in the Asia-Pacific region.
The championship will be shown live in the United States (4.00am-6.00am Eastern Time) on ESPNU (November 1-2) and then ESPN2 (November 3-4). Other broadcasters include ESPN (Latin America), SuperSport (Africa), TSN (Canada), Sky Sports (U.K.) and CNBC Europe. All of the coverage will also be streamed live on the official event Web site, www.AACgolf.com.