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Liu looking to maintain his momentum

By Yang Xinwei | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-18 07:14

Liu looking to maintain his momentum

Liu Yanwei of China tracks his drive off the seventh tee during Tuesday's Thailand Open pro-am in Bangkok. Paul Lakatos / Asian Tour

Liu Yanwei plans to keep things simple in his pursuit of a career breakthrough at the $300,000 Thailand Open, which gets underway on Thursday.

The 19-year-old, who is the only Chinese player in the field this week, claimed his first top-10 finish on the Asian Tour in Bangladesh earlier this year and tied for 11th place in the European Tour's Shenzhen International last month.

Liu has also enjoyed solid finishes on the Asian Development Tour, with two top-three results in three starts this season to boost his world ranking from 1,092 to 556.

"I am very much looking forward to this tournament; I have been working hard on my game lately just to prepare myself for this week," Liu said after playing in the Thailand Open pro-am on Tuesday.

"I had a good result on the European Tour in Shenzhen last month. It was my best ever result on the Tour, so it has given me a lot of confidence.

"I am pretty satisfied with my season so far. I have had some commendable results on the Asian Tour and the Asian Development Tour as well. It has been one of my best starts to a season so far in my career."

Liu turned professional in 2015, and is making his second appearance in the Thailand Open, but it's his first visit to the Thai Country Club in Bangkok.

"I have no specific targets this week; I just want to prepare well and play my best, just as I would at any other event.

"The course condition is pretty good. It's been raining quite a bit, so it was kind of wet out there.

"This is my first time playing on this course. I played in the pro-am today and the course was great. It wasn't really windy out there, but I think it will be tough when the wind picks up."

The tournament is returning to the Asian Tour following an eight-year lapse.

Liu will be up against a host of former Asian Order of Merit champions in Scott Hend of Australia, Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thaworn Wiratchant, American David Lipsky and India's Jeev Milkha Singh.

The Thai Country Club has been especially lucky for Singh, who was crowned order of merit champion in 2006 and 2008 after season-ending events there.

"It's going to be a very low-scoring week because the rough is not up yet," said the 45-year-old Singh.

"You need to hit good iron shots and putt well. I think it's going to be a putting contest this week.

"It's always nice coming to Thailand. It's great to be back here because this place holds a lot of memories for me."

India's Shiv Kapur is another with a positive connection with the course, winning his first Asian Tour title there in 2005.

"It's a place that's very close to my heart because my career really started here after I won my first Asian Tour title some 12 years ago," said Kapur, who last month ended a long wait for his second tour title at the Yeangder Heritage in Chinese Taipei.

"I couldn't ask for more. It's obviously a great feeling to come back to a course which you like and with a recent win in the bag," the 35-year-old added.

"We have a very strong field this week."

Kiradech, the 2013 Order of Merit winner, will be chasing a third Asian Tour title and first on home soil.

A three-time winner on the European Tour, Kiradech is also aiming to become the fourth Thai, following Suthep Meesawat (1991), Boonchu Ruangkit (1992 and 2004) and Prayad Marksaeng (2013), to win his national championship.

"I will try to play well in front of my home crowd; they have been really supportive and they are one of the reasons why I decided to play in the Thailand Open," said the 27-year-old.

yangxinwei@chinadaily.com.cn

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