Nitithorn on brink of joining elite club

Nitithorn on brink of joining elite club

Thailand's Nitithorn Thippong poses during a practice round. (Photo: Asian Tour)
Thailand's Nitithorn Thippong poses during a practice round. (Photo: Asian Tour)

Linkou: Nitithorn Thippong, one of the players of the year so far on the Asian Tour, will attempt to join an elite group of golfers who have won three Asian Tour titles in a single season this week when he competes in the US$700,000 Yeangder TPC at Linkou International Golf and Country Club in Taiwan.

Having banked the DGC Open in New Delhi in March for his first victory on the Asian Tour and the International Series Singapore last month, the 25-year-old Thai has been a revelation this year.

His breakthrough season has also seen him move into third place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

With a wealth of tournaments remaining, there is no doubt that finishing 2022 as the circuit's No.1 is a real possibility.

However, any realisation of that is being tempered by a cautious approach.

"I'm thinking about catching up on the Order of Merit. It's in my plans but I don't want to think too much about it. It motivates me a lot, but I don't want to think about it that much during the tournament rounds, because I think if I think about that a lot, it's gonna ruin my game.

"So, this week, I just try to focus on my game as much as I can."

Only seven players have won three titles in a single season since the Asian Tour was launched in 2004 -- Miguel Angel Jimenez (2004), Tetsuji Hiratsuka (2010), Lee Westwood (2011), Thaworn Wiratchant (2012), Scott Hend (2013), Shiv Kapur (2017), and John Catlin (2018).

And just two players have triumphed four times -- Thailand's Thaworn (2005) and his countryman Jazz Janewattananond (2019).

Tirawat Kaewsiribandit, another Thai, is also in the field this week after narrowly missing out on a victory in the Shinhan Donghae Open in Japan two weeks ago.

"That week in Japan has already passed, now I'm focused on this tournament to improve my ranking this year," said Tirawat.

"I'm more relaxed and more confident because I played well in Japan."

Both Nitithorn and Tirawat will attempt to emulate Prom Meesawat and Thaworn by joining them as the only players from Thailand to win the Yeangder TPC.

The Asian Tour is returning to Taiwan for the first time in three years following the Covid-19 pandemic.

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