Jazz, Asian stars hog WGC limelight

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Thai rising star Jazz Janewattananond will be part of the Worldwide Staff’s flagbearers from Asia gunning for revenge on the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship following their gut-wrenching Presidents Cup loss by staring down the sport’s best golfers.

The US$10.5 million showpiece at Membership de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico Metropolis, which tees off Thursday, would be the first World Golf Championships of the brand new decade and whereas no Asian golfer has lifted the trophy in its storied historical past, latest editions have witnessed a few of the area’s main lights delivering standout performances.

In 2018, younger Indian Shubhankar Sharma delighted {the golfing} world by brilliantly taking the second and third spherical leads earlier than settling for T9 with a closing 74 within the firm of American legend Phil Mickelson, who gained the match after a play-off towards Justin Thomas.

Thai ace Kiradech Aphibarnrat crept right into a top-five end that yr to emerge as the very best positioned Asian finisher, due to a closing 65.

The large-hitting Kiradech, the one Thai competing full-time on the PGA Tour, confirmed his liking as soon as extra for the tree-lined and tough Chapultepec structure by ending a creditable third some 12 months in the past the place he produced three 68s and a 69 to serve one other reminder of his potential to grow to be a PGA Tour champion.

Jazz, the reigning Asian Tour No.1 who gained 4 occasions final season, will go head-to-head with the celebs in Mexico for the primary time. Coached by Pete Cowen, the baby-faced Thai might effectively be a darkish horse.

Jazz shocked many with a unbelievable run on the PGA Championship final yr earlier than ending T14 and matched that end in his WGC-HSBC Champions debut in November.

Nonetheless, the freckle-faced Thai is aware of he nonetheless has loads of work to do to step onto the following degree.

“I am nonetheless making an attempt to gauge myself to see how a lot I want to enhance. These guys are so good. I am not there but however I do know what are the correct issues that I must work on with Pete to then attempt to get my recreation able to compete towards these guys,” he mentioned.

Japanese hero Hideki Matsuyama, South Korea’s rising stars Im Sung-Jae and An Byeong-Hun have been among the many area’s stars in an Ernie Els-led Worldwide Staff who got here up agonisingly quick to upsetting a Tiger Woods-powered United States aspect within the Presidents Cup in December.

Whereas the slim 16-14 defeat was a bitter capsule to swallow, the trio’s performances at Royal Melbourne, coupled with some fantastic showings by CT Pan of Taiwan and China’s Li Haotong, have been one other well timed reminder of the rising energy of Asian golf.

Apparently, three of the Worldwide Staff members — Adam Scott, Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman — have gone on to style particular person wins within the quick aftermath of the Royal Melbourne encounter which the likes of An believes is as a result of Presidents Cup.

“It was unimaginable to see Cam win [the Sony Open in Hawaii]. Hopefully I can break by and win at some point. Our [International Team] group chat has been going loopy of late. Hopefully another person can step up, hopefully me or Sung-Jae or another person. It exhibits the Presidents Cup has helped us,” mentioned An.

Matsuyama, a five-time PGA Tour winner, stays as Asia’s solely winner within the World Golf Championships, launched in 1999 with a imaginative and prescient to assemble the world’s elite gamers from the assorted worldwide excursions 4 occasions a yr.

The 27-year-old broke by on the 2016 WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and adopted up with one other stellar victory within the 2017 WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational.

Typically a stoic determine in the course of the warmth of battle, Matsuyama confirmed a welcome fiery aspect of his recreation en path to a 2-1-1 file within the Presidents Cup, securing two wins within the four-ball periods with straight-shooting Pan. He settled for a tie with Tony Finau within the singles.

Practically three years on since his final win, a lot is predicted of Maruyama in 2020 as he seeks to finish his victory drought and start the brand new decade on a profitable notice.

With top-25 finishes in Mexico in 2017 and 2019, and at a course which calls for precision, the Japanese ace is tipped to problem in Chapultepec.

South Korea’s Im continues to win over new followers and fellow rivals together with his imperious golf, which is constructed upon the muse of a rock-solid iron recreation.

The 21-year-old delivered 3.5 factors for the Worldwide Staff which included a four and three drubbing over reigning US Open champion Gary Woodland within the Singles. Woods sought out the Korean to congratulate him after the showdown.

Im’s continued rise might be intently watched as he makes his debut within the WGC-Mexico Championship.

The teen has featured in a single WGC beforehand, ending T11 on the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai final November.

He completed runner-up on the Sanderson Farms Championship and T3 on the Zozo Championship in Japan final yr.

Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, who performed with Im in Australia, mentioned: “We name him ‘the weapon’. He’s an unbelievable golfer.”

{The golfing} world might be ready eagerly to see which Asian participant will step up on the plate in Mexico.




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