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Golf | Asia

Thaworn Wiratchant © Gallo Images

Thai veteran to open Asian Tour season



Record-breaking Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant will have the honour of hitting the first drive as golf's Asian Tour starts its 10th season with the $300 000 Zaykabar Myanmar Open on Thursday.

Thaworn, 46, holder of an unmatched 15 Asian Tour victories and the winner of his second order of merit title last year, will symbolically get the season underway from the 10th tee.

"I've played on the Asian Tour for many years so I'm not feeling nervous ahead of the new 2013 season," said the world number 78.

"I want to keep going and improving on my world ranking. I want to stay in the top 100. Golf is a cycle. You don't expect to play good in every tournament."

Thaworn is paired with fellow Thai Boonchu Ruangkit, the oldest man in the field at 56, who struck the first shot when the Asian Tour was relaunched as a player-led organisation in 2004.

The tour in recent years has been embroiled in an unseemly spat with its rival, OneAsia, which sprang up in 2009 and mainly has tournaments in China, South Korea and Australia.

Its "vision" for the next 10 years, announced last week, includes $100 million in prize money and up to 39 tournaments per year, with three Asians in the top 10, three more major-winners and the region's first golfing superstar.

Australia's Kieran Pratt is defending champion of the Myanmar Open, to be held at Yangon's Royal Mingalardon Golf and Country Club.

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