Shah Alam: Joonas Granberg of Finland is planning to keep things ‘simple’ in his title defence at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters which starts on Wednesday.
Granberg will face strong challenges from the likes of Asian Tour’s rising star Panuphol Pittayarat of Thailand, who finished second last year, Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat, who is celebrating a milestone 300th Asian Tour appearance this week and local stalwart Shaaban Hussin at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club.
The RM1.2 million (approximately US$395,000) Asian Tour event has attracted a total of 30 winners from the region including exciting talent David Lipsky of the United States, who won his first Asian Tour title earlier this year, Prom Meesawat of Thailand, currently fifth on the Order of Merit and Siddikur of Bangladesh.
Granberg, who attended a press conference today dressed in traditional Malay costume to mark the Aidilfitri celebration, knows he must steady his nerves in his hopes of a successful defence.
“I have to keep things simple and not try anything special. Somehow I don’t feel very relaxed and that’s my problem. I need to calm myself down,” said Granberg, whose victory last year was helped by a course record 10-under-par 62 in the first round.
“My opening round last year was amazing. I remembered I only had two hours of sleep due to jetlag but after an eagle on my first hole and a birdie on the second, I was wide awake. My game is quite solid. I always play one or two under but that was the first time I have shot a 62. It was an amazing feeling. Of course I’ll try for the same magic again,” added the 25-year-old, only the second Finn to win on the Asian Tour.
Panuphol, who is nicknamed “Coconut”, came close to a winning breakthrough last year where he led into the last day before finishing second. Last week, he went through a 3D biomechanical motion analysis in Switzerland and is hoping a few tweaks of his golf swing will boost his chances of a first Asian Tour title.
“I feel much better after doing the biomechanical analysis because I know what I’m doing now and what I did wrong before. I had the problem of not transitioning enough during my swing. I kind of stayed in one place and that made my swing kind of stuck and I couldn’t turn through it,” said Panuphol.
At the age 19, Panauphol said the biggest challenges for upcoming players was the fact that they have to compete against battle-hardened veterans such as Thaworn Wiratchant, a 13-time Asian Tour winner and the highest ranked player at third place on the Order of Merit here this week, and Mardan.
“It is hard for us because the players who are already in the tournament have 10 or 20 years of playing professional golf. They have got more experience than us but it inspires us to practise more and beat them,” he added. – Asian Tour