Jeev leads Indian challenge in Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup

Jeev Milkha Singh will lead the Indian challenge at the USD 1.3 million Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup, which starts on Thursday.

Jeev Milkha Singh has most international titles among all professional Indian golfers.   -  Getty Images

Jeev Milkha Singh, who is now not a regular on the Japan Golf Tour, will lead the Indian challenge even as Rahil Gangjee seeks a sold finish at the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup which starts here on Thursday.

Jeev, who has most international titles among all Indian professional golfers, will be one of the seven Indians teeing up at the Ibaraki Country Club’s West course.

The other six Indians in the field include Jyoti Randhawa, the first Indian to have ever won a title in Japan and to date the only one other than Jeev. Also in the fray are Arjun Atwal, Rahil Gangjee, Chiragh Kumar, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Himmat Rai. Four of the seven have won multiple title on Asian Tour while Gangjee, Chiragh and Himmat have one each.

Gangjee, who has had decent results this season, will be looking at a good finish to move up from 15th place to inside top 10 and earn a spot into the lucrative CIMB Classic in Malaysia next month.

Gangjee, who has had top-10 finishes in Maybank Malaysian Open (T-9), Hero Indian Open (T-10) and Afr-Asian Mauritius Open (T-7), will be looking for another good finish to add a second Asian Tour title to the first he won way back in 2004. “I have been playing well, so I hope I can get a decent start and then challenge for a good finish,” said the jovial Gangjee, who has recently shifted base from Kolkata to Bengaluru, where golfing facilities are better.

The top 10 Asian Tour players will get a spot in CIMB Classic with October 17 as the cut-off date. Jeev Milkha Singh in 32nd place will also be seeking a solid finish to get into the race for CIMB Classic, which is jointly sanctioned by PGA and Asian Tour.

Co-sanctioned tournament

The USD 1.3 million Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup is the third tournament this season to be co-sanctioned by Asian and Japan Tours. The event also signals the start of a busy schedule for Asian Tour golfers as they have 10 more starts before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Nicholas Fung hopes to improve his standings on the Asian Tour Order of Merit with a strong showing this week. Fung, the 2013 Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit champion, will put his chase for a breakthrough win when he steps up to the first tee.

Fung, one of the promising stars to emerge from Malaysia, had shown positive signs of edging closer to that elusive win. He has notched two top 10 finishes this season, including a tied-third place result in Chinese Taipei in June.

Thai veteran Prayad Marksaeng, a nine-time winner on the region’s premier Tour, will also be one of the top draws. Prayad proved once again that old is indeed gold when he claimed three victories in the last two months playing in what was his first season on the Japan Senior Tour. He had previously won four titles on the regular Tour in Japan.

Korea’s Jeunghun Wang, Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, placed third and fourth respectively on the Order of Merit, will also feature in the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup alongside Jeev Milkha Singh, Thai legend Thaworn Wiratchant and China’s Liang Wen-chong.

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