Asian golfers have made a real impact on the world game in recent years but some of the region’s top players are trembling about this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shenzen, China.
Some, including the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit leader, are complaining that the 7,301-yard Olazabal course at Mission Hills is too long for them.
“Some holes are too long,” Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant said in a statement.
“The greens are firm. When I hit my irons, the ball won’t stop. It will be challenging for me.
“I don’t think about just wanting to beat Phil Mickelson or Bubba Watson,” said Thaworn, who has won three tournaments this year and finished in the top 20 in Malaysia last week.
“I want to put up some good scores. I was happy with my form last week so hopefully it will continue. There is no pressure on me.”
With seven of the world’s top 10 players competing this week, the $7 million tournament co-sanctioned by the European Tour will be tough enough but Thaworn was not alone in griping about the length of the course.
Jumping through hoops
Countryman Prom Meesawat, who tips the scales at over 100 kilograms and can give the ball a hefty whack, also had concerns about distance.
“I need to improve my driving distance,” said the player dubbed ‘Big Dolphin’.
“I figure I need another 20 yards more to compete.”
Despite his nickname, Prom admitted his chances of making much of a splash in China were slim.
“My irons are good enough but there is still a lot of work to do,” said the 28-year-old.
“I need to improve my driving distance… I figure I need another 20 yards more to compete”
Thailand’s Prom Meesawat
“I don’t expect to play good and win.
“But if my form is good it will be nice for me and Asian golf. We want to show we can win like Thongchai (Jaidee) and Jeev (Milkha Singh) who won on European soil this year.”
One of the shortest hitters on the Asian Tour, Bangladeshi Mohammad Siddikur, all but wrote off his hopes of keeping up with the long bombers.
“It’s a great golf course but for me it’s a bit long,” said the 27-year-old, the first man from his country to win on the Asian Tour.
“It’ll be a good experience for me. You’ve got to have distance off the tees to have a chance to make a score. It’ll be a good challenge.”
Siddikur is hoping his improved short game can help compensate for his lack of distance off the tee.
“The short game has to be good on this course,” he said.
“It’s very undulating. My short game is now better and I think it will be okay.”