Phachara aims high at Panasonic Open

Noda City: Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai is hoping to win the US$1.37 million Panasonic Open which tees off today.

The 17-year-old has had a solid start to the season with two runner-up finishes in Singapore and Australia.

The teenager has already achieved feats beyond his age and will be eager to make another impression at Chiba Country Club in the event co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation.

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.

"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," he said.

"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."

Liang Wen-chong of China will be trying to continue his winning run as he seeks back-to-back victories in Japan.

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.

"I'm feeling a lot more confident this week. I think it could be due to the little adjustments I made earlier as well," he said.

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.

"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," he said.

Filipino Angelo Que, a three-time Asian Tour winner, is seeking to end his seven-year drought on the circuit.

At 38, Que conceded age is catching up with him but remains optimistic of returning to the winner's circle again.

"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," he said.

"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."

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