20 April 2017
Liang Aims to Continue Winning Ways at Panasonic Open Japan
China’s Liang Wen-chong is hoping to continue his winning run as he seeks back-to-back victories in Japan at the Panasonic OPEN Japan which tees off on Thursday.
Liang, the 2007 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, secured his second title in Japan on Sunday and is determined to ride on his rich vein of form as he takes on the 138-man field from the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
Defending champion Yuta Ikeda will spearhead the local challenge alongside some of the brightest talents from Japan that include Koumei Oda, Masanori Kobayashi and Shingo Katayama.
Victory at the ¥150 million (approximately US$1.37million) event is also what Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai is hoping for following a solid start to the season where he has already secured two runner-up finishes in Singapore and Australia.
The 17-year-old teenager has already achieved feats beyond his age and will be eager to make another impression at the Chiba Country Club, Umesato course in Noda City, Chiba prefecture this week.
Philippines’ Angelo Que, a three-time Asian Tour winner, is meanwhile seeking to end his seven-year drought on the Asian Tour.
At 38, Que conceded age is catching up with him but remains optimistic of returning to the winner’s circle again.
Did you know?
- Liang Wen-chong is the first Chinese player to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit title in 2007. He also holds three Asian Tour titles.
- Phachara came into prominence when he won the 2015 PGM CCM Rahman Putra Championship to become the youngest Asian Development Tour winner at the age of 15.
- Angelo Que holds three Asian Tour titles but is still searching for his first win in Japan after coming close with a runner-up finish in 2015.
- World number 47 Yuta Ikeda is the highest ranked player in the field this week. He compiled a winning total of 13-under-par 271 to win the Panasonic OPEN Japan last year.
- The Panasonic OPEN Japan which is the third event to be co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) this year following earlier events in Singapore and Myanmar.
Liang Wen-chong (Chn)
I’m feeling a lot more confident this week. I think it could be due to the little adjustments I made earlier as well. It has been two years since I last won on the Japan Golf Tour. The wait for the second title has been long but I am glad I managed to persevere till now. I’ve a strong family support and I think that has been the most important motivation for me. For more than 10 years, I have played in at least 30 tournaments each year. I don’t get to spend much time with my family. But this year, I took a break to spend time with them. It was great and I feel really relaxed on the course now. There isn’t too much pressure on me and I feel more comfortable playing in tournaments. I guess that was a big factor in my win last week.
Angelo Que (Phi)
It has been a long while since my last win on the Asian Tour. I almost did it again on a couple of occasions since my last victory in 2010. But it’s getting harder now with the younger players coming up. I used to say that age is just a number but you tend to feel it. I think I’m at that stage where I’m really feeling it. A lot of people are denying they are feeling old but I know I’m getting old. Some of the players are already calling me uncle. My goal has always been to stay in contention and winning will always be a bonus. I did well in Singapore and I could have done better in some of the other events. But that’s how it is. You just got to keep going.
Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha)
That result in Perth was unbelievable. When I got home, I got so many people congratulating me and telling me how they liked my performance there. Everyone was telling me to go for that win this year and I hope I can do so too. I just need that breakthrough and it should be okay as my record in Japan has always been good.
Yuta Ikeda (Jpn)
I just returned from the US last night and still trying to shake off the effects of jet lag. The conditions at this golf course are the same as last year. I always feel very comfortable each time I play here. My global playing experience has helped me to adapt better to the different course conditions in whatever country I tee up in. This is my first tournament at home this year and I really want to put up a good show for the fans. I want to display the kind of shot accuracy and distance control that I’m capable of and most importantly defend my title well.