Digvijay Singh is hoping that changes to his golf swing and a strict mid-season training regime will lead him to a unique Asian Tour ‘double’ at the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open starting on Thursday.
Digvijay claimed a career breakthrough win at the Panasonic Open India in April to end a frustrating 12-year wait for a maiden Asian Tour title and he will be among a strong cast at USD 1.9 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
Fellow Indian stars Anirban Lahiri,Jeev Milkha Singh and Gaganjeet Bhullar,who won his third Asian Tour title in Taipei on Monday,Japanese poster boy Ryo Ishikawa,defending champion Tetsuji Hiratsuka,Thai ace Thongchai Jaidee and reigning Order of Merit champion Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines will headline a star-studded field at the Higashi Hirono Golf Club.
After winning in April,Digvijay,who has been drawn to play the opening two rounds with Ishakawa and Hiratsuka,made changes to his swing in search of more glory but conceded it has taken time to see the positive effects.
“I’m trying to incorporate a few changes into my swing. I’ve been a bit confused recently but I’m still going ahead with the new changes,” said Digvijay,who has made only one cut since his win at the Panasonic Open India.
Digvijay is among three Indian stars to win on the Asian Tour this season including Lahiri,winner of the SAIL-SBI Open on home soil and Bhullar. Jeev has also tasted success in Europe,winning the Scottish Open in July,and will be among the favourites to lift the title this week.
“Winning my first title outside of India would be awesome. That’ll be the icing on the cake and to win in Japan would be absolutely fantastic. Age is definitely not a factor anymore. There has been enough players who have won in their 40s and I know age is not a barrier to winning,” said the 40-year-old Digvijay.
With many young guns breaking through the ranks on the Asian Tour,Digvijay said that maintaining his fitness will be the key to staying competitive at the highest level.
“I’ve been working out a lot with my coach. The last two months have been very rigorous and intense. We wake at 4.30am every morning,barring just one day in a week which has been very tough. Physically I’m feeling stronger and fitter now,so that’s definitely paying off,” he said.
Among other Indians,in-form Bhullar will be the man to watch after he defeated Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant,who holds a record of 14 Asian Tour victories,at the weather-shortened Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Taipei on Monday.
“It was my fighting spirit as I told myself that I’ve got to win the tournament no matter what happens and I knew I was playing well. This victory means a lot to me as it gives you a lot of boost and a two-year exemption on the Asian Tour,” said Bhullar.
“I guess the second half of the season is really packed. I’m going to play like 13-14 events in a row and mentally I’m already prepared for that. I’m looking forward to playing some good golf,” said Bhullar,who moved to fifth place on the Order of Merit with winnings of USD 209,046.
The top six players on the Merit list will feature in the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open including top-ranked Marcus Fraser of Australia,who leads with USD 448,710,followed by Jbe Kruger who trails in second place by over USD 8,000.