Pannakorn eyes ADT summit
Pattaya, Thailand, December 5: Thailand’s Pannakorn Uthaipas will continue his chase for the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit crown when he steps up to the tee at the penultimate Thongchai Jaidee Foundation which starts on Thursday.
The 27-year-old Pannakorn has enjoyed one of his best seasons to date but hopes to put the icing on the cake by becoming the second Thai, following Pavit Tangkamolprasert in 2014, to win the prestigious Order of Merit crown when the 2017 season concludes in less than three weeks’ time.
Placed second on the money list thanks to one win and three top-10s, Pannakorn needs a good showing at the ฿4 million (approximately US$120,000) event to try and surpass Merit leader Masaru Takahashi of Japan, who is also in the elite field this week.
Pannakorn, who enjoyed a top-five finish in the tournament last year albeit on a different course, believes home comfort will be his triumph card when the third edition of the popular tournament gets underway at the Siam Country Club’s Waterside course.
“The course is in superb condition. It’s really nice out there but it’s going to be windy which makes it very challenging. You need to hit it to the right positions on the greens to score. If you can’t control your ball well, it’s going to be very difficult.
“I am feeling really comfortable and relaxed playing at home this week. It’s always nice to be playing at home. I am definitely hoping to play well this week as my goal is to win the Order of Merit at the end of the season. A good week this week will help,” said Pannakorn.
Pannakorn trails Takahashi by a mere US$814 with his season’s haul of US$46,241 while American John Catlin sits in third place on the Merit rankings with earnings of US$38,350.
Chinese Taipei’s Wang Wei-lun (US$35,027) and Nattawat Suvajanakorn (US%34,178) of Thailand, who both secured their breakthroughs on the region’s secondary circuit earlier this season, are placed fourth and fifth respectively.
The leading 10 players on the ADT money list will all feature in the tournament hosted by Thai star Thongchai Jaidee, a record three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, from December 7 to 10.
A strong line-up of ADT hopefuls, which consists of 28 champions, will take on a star-studded field headlined by Thailand’s number one and world number 60 Kiradech Aphibarnrat, as well as Thai legend Boonchu Ruangkit and defending champion Chapchai Nirat.
The Thongchai Jaidee Foundation welcomed Kiradech as the champion for its inaugural edition in 2015. Chapchai, a four-time Asian Tour winner, emerged triumphant in the second edition last year after claiming a sensational six-shot victory.
Other notable players in the field include Daniel Im of the United States, Asian Tour winners Prom Meesawat, Panuphol Pittayarat and Rattanon Wannasrichan of Thailand, England’s Steve Lewton and Australian Marcus Both.
With the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation being the penultimate event of the 2017 ADT season, players will have everything to play for as they continue to chase not only for the Order of Merit crown but also the five Asian Tour cards on offer for the 2018 season.
The leading five players on the final ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the region’s premier Tour for 2018.