Young Thai talent Jazz Janewattananond believes he can rise above the occasion in the Solaire Open after agonizingly missing out on qualifying for The Open Championship last week when the $300,000 event commence on Thursday at The Country Club in Laguna.
The highly-rated 18-year-old will be among the youth brigade in the second leg of this year’s Asian Tour alongside Nicholas Fung of Malaysia, David Lipsky of the US and Baek Seuk-hyun of Korea, who finished ninth on the 2013 Order of Merit.
They will face strong challenges from the veterans in the fold, including two-time Order of Merit winner Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, Prayad Marksaeng, who won two Asian Tour titles last season and Filipino stalwarts Antonio Lascuña, Angelo Que, Frankie Miñoza and Cassius Casas in the second edition of the event sponsored by Solaire Resorts and Casino.
Meanwhile, the Solaire Open, backed by DMCI Homes, BDO and Meralco, will be launced in elaborate rites today at Solaire Resorts and Casino in Pasay starting at 1 p.m.
Losing in a four-way play-off to Yoshinobu Tsukada of Japan in the Open Qualifying Series was a bitter pill to swallow for Janewattananond but he hopes to translate that disappointment into a first Asian Tour victory this week.
Lipsky and Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura, who are in the elite field this week, also fell short in the play-off.
“I had one hand on The Open Championship ticket so I was really down on myself but I kept telling myself to take it as an experience. It was a hard lesson for me but it is a good thing that it happened early in my career,” said Janewattananond.
Meanwhile, despite playing with an injured toe, Malaysia’s Fung remains confident with his title aspirations at the Solaire Open despite limping to victory on the local circuit last week.
“I think the injury has worked in my favor because I’m not using my leg too much during my swing and I’m able to hit the ball straighter!” said Fung, who injured his right toe after falling into a drain two weeks ago.
Lipsky, who won his first Asian Tour title in Cambodia in 2012, will be aiming to return into the winner’s circle this year after enjoying a relatively fast start in 2014 where he finished tied 18th at the SAIL-SBI Open in India a fortnight ago.
“I want to win again on the Asian Tour, that’s definitely one of my main goals this year. I like the course and it is pretty wide open. You need to hit it hard out here. I like that and I’m looking forward to this week. The course is long and it will get demanding when the wind blows. I will be happy if I can keep my scores under-par for four days,” said the 25-year-old Lipsky.
Lascuna, meanwhile, will put his local knowledge at The Country Club to good use as he continues the hunt for a first Asian Tour title after enjoying some measure of success on the region’s premier Tour since 2007.
“It is a nice golf course. I like this course a lot. It can be very challenging here if the wind picks up but I’m feeling confident. I’m going to take it easy and hopefully I will be in contention on Sunday,” said Lascuna.