Thaworn excited by Masters invitation
THAILAND’S Thaworn Wiratchant, the reigning Asian Tour number one, was on cloud nine after receiving a special invitation to play in the Masters Tournament in April, according to a press release.
Along with Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, both players received exemptions from Augusta National Golf Club to compete in the year’s opening Major in Georgia, United States from April 11-14.
“I’m very happy with this good news,” said Thaworn. “When my manager informed me, I initially thought she was joking. I didn’t expect to receive an invitation and I was planning to work hard to break into the world’s top-50 (by end of March) to qualify for the Masters.”
Ranked 68th in the world, Thaworn wrote a slice of history on the Asian Tour last year by becoming the oldest player at the age of 45 years and 353 days to win the prestigious Order of Merit crown following a season which included three victories.
He will become the fourth Thai after Sukree Onsham, Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng to tee up at Augusta National but is hoping to become the first from his country to play in all four rounds.
“I’ll try to make the cut … that would be the goal. If I don’t make it, then I want to ensure that I had played my best. The players at the Masters are all good players and it is a very challenging golf course,” said Thaworn.
He hopes the Masters invitation will serve as an inspiration to other Asian Tour stars who dream of competing in the fabled tournament.
“This is good for me and certainly good for many other players who want to play in the Masters and the other Majors. If I can make it at my age, the younger players will have a chance as well,” he said.
As a Masters debutant, Thaworn knows he faces an uphill task to make a strong first impression.
“Every year, I watch the Masters on TV and I think to myself that it’s such a difficult golf course. I have spoken to Thongchai and Prayad about their experiences in the Masters previously and I will talk to them again to find out more about the golf course.
“From what I’ve seen, you have to be good in every department, especially around the greens which are very fast and tricky. I am sure it will be really challenging but I am looking forward to my first trip there,” said Thaworn.
Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, said in a statement on Friday: “The Masters has long established a tradition of supporting the global game, and we were excited to extend invitations to Thaworn Wiratchant and Ryo Ishikawa, who we hope will provide added interest and enthusiasm for golf in Asia through their participation in the tournament.”