Star gazing at Ballantine's Championship

4/17/2013 9:45:05 AM
Thongchai Jaidee in action during the second round of the Maybank Malaysian Open  (Getty Images)
Thongchai Jaidee in action during the second round of the Maybank Malaysian Open (Getty Images)

The region’s top stars are set to light up the scene when the sixth edition of the Ballantine’s Championship returns to the Blackstone Golf Club from April 25-28.

Past and present Asian Tour Order of Merit winners will vie for top honours at the €2.2 million  showpiece.

Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, who holds the record of having won three Asian Tour Merit titles, will spearhead Asia’s charge alongside compatriot Thaworn Wiratchant, India’s Jeev Milkha Singh and China’s Liang Wen-chong at the Ballantine’s Championship which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Korea PGA.

Current Asian Tour number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand will also be seeking his second title of the season at the Ballantine’s Championship, which is one of two major Korean events held on the Asian Tour annually.

No fewer than 30 champions from the Asian Tour are also poised to battle against the heavyweights from The European Tour which will be headlined by 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen.

American Ryder Cup stars Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson are also expected to feature prominently on the leaderboard.

So far, Jaidee and Australia’s Marcus Fraser remain as the only Asian Tour players to have won the Ballantine’s Championship in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

After suffering the disappointment of missing out on his third Masters appearance, Thongchai, a 13-time Asian Tour winner, will be looking to reignite his winning ambitions and reproduce his early season form where he enjoyed three successive top-tens in South Africa and the Middle East.

Singh, a two-time Asian Tour Number One, is also hoping to add another title to his proud record of six Asian Tour titles and multiple victories on the Japan and European Tours, including last year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

Long regarded as the flag bearer for golf in India, Singh’s two Order of Merit triumphs came in 2006 and 2008 on the Asian Tour, which is celebrating its milestone 10th season in 2013.

Asian Tour honorary member, Y.E Yang of Korea can expect another rousing reception from the home fans as he bids to become the first Korean to win the Ballantine’s Championship which was won by Austrian Bernd Wiesberger last year. His best result was last year when he finished tied-15th.

The Korean, who is an Asian Tour honorary member, will be determined to celebrate his homecoming with another worthy performance befitting of his status as Asia’s first Major winner.

Other Asian Tour stars expected to feature prominently at the Ballantine’s Championship include India’s Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar and, Australia’s Scott Hend.

The Ballantine’s Championship was established in 2008 and builds on Ballantine’s long-standing association with golf.

In addition to the Championship, Ballantine’s sponsors several top-flight players and events, as well as invests in grass-roots activity such as the Golf Fund in China and the Road to the Ballantine’s Championship in Korea.