Patty, Jutanugarn sisters lead local challenge at Honda LPGA Thailand next month
Apr 10. 2021Paphangkorn “Patty” Tavatanakit
By THE NATION
Newly crowned ANA Inspiration winner Paphangkorn “Patty” Tavatanakit will spearhead the local challenge at the US$1.6-million Honda LPGA Thailand in Pattaya next month.
Patty, who on Sunday became the second Thai to win an LPGA Major title, will be joined by countrywoman and former world No 1 Ariya Jutanugarn and her sister Moriya as well as defending champion Amy Yang of South Korea.
Also competing on the pristine Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course from May 6-9 will be Danielle Kang (US), Park Sung-hyun (South Korea) and Japanese star Hinako Shibuno. They head a starry field of top players from Asia, the US and Europe.
Ariya, world No 1 in 2017 and winner of two LPGA Majors, the 2016 British Open and 2018 US Open said: “I’m excited to be competing in the Honda LPGA Thailand and as a Thai person I am also incredibly proud of the achievements my country has made in dealing with and managing the issues created by the pandemic. The fact that a great competition such as this can take place now sends a positive statement to the world and shows that Thailand is a wonderful golfing destination.”
Moriya, winner of the 2018 Hugel-JTBC LA Open, said: “Having the Honda LPGA back on is such a great feeling. … Events such as these really elevate the standard of golf in Thailand, and they also do a fantastic job of showing the world that Thailand golf courses are some of the best in the world.”
Patty is looking forward to parlaying her title-inning momentum into more success.
“My recent win at the ANA Inspiration will be my inspiration to have a great tournament at home. The Honda LPGA is always exciting, I am looking forward to competing in it again.”
Kang, winner of the 2017 Women’s PGA Championship, said: “has been so much anticipation from all of us on the LPGA circuit, we all want to get back to competing. I can’t wait to get onto the course.”
Said Park Sung-hyun, winner of the 2017 US Open and the 2018 PGA Championship: “It feels like a dream come true to be able to travel to Thailand once again and take part in this event and join my fellow professional female golfers in what is sure to be a thrilling tournament for all. The organisers have made every effort possible to make sure that this event is not only world-class but also safe.”
Japan’s Shibuno, winner of the 2019 British Open, will join the Honda LPGA Thailand for the first time. “This tournament is always a world-class event, and I am sure this year will be no exception,” she said. “The restrictions placed upon us all, not just in sports but in our day to day lives, have been challenging, so to have the opportunity to once again travel and play the sport I love feels amazing. I’m sure all the fans who will be tuning in to watch will be just as excited as all of the players will be.”
The Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) on Thursday told all sports associations to avoid or postpone holding competitions to contain the Covid-19 surge.
The move comes after the number of Covid-19 cases skyrocketed in many provinces throughout Thailand.
“As spectators would be at risk of infection, the SAT would like to ask sports associations to avoid or postpone holding competitions with lots of spectators during this time,” the authority said.
“If it is necessary to do so, sports associations must strictly comply with the guidelines of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and provincial communicable disease committee’s measures to contain the spread of the virus.”
In response to the SAT’s call, the Football Association of Thailand said they would conduct the final of the Chang FA Cup at True Stadium in Pathum Thani on April 11 without spectators.
Meanwhile, the Thailand Volleyball Association will hold a closed-door competition of Volleyball Thailand League final at The Mall Bangkapi in Bangkok from April 9 to 11.
Inspired Matsuyama ends first day in T2 as he dreams of Masters glory
Apr 09. 2021Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama (Credit to Getty Images)
Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama enjoyed a 3-under 69 in the first round of the Masters Tournament as he found inspiration from the success of teenaged compatriot, Tsubasa Kajitani who won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur four days earlier.
The 29-year Matsuyama sank an eagle, two birdies and a lone bogey on a fast and firm Augusta National Golf Club to lie in joint second place alongside Brian Harman, and four strokes behind Justin Rose who shot a blistering 65.
Korea’s Si Woo Kim carded a 71 after dropping some late bogeys to share eighth place while countryman Sungjae Im, who finished joint runner-up here last November, stumbled to a 77 which included a quadruple bogey 9 on the par-5, 15th hole where he found water twice. Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan, tied seventh last year, came home in 79.
Making his 10th successive Masters appearance, Matsuyama took full advantage of the par-5s, making birdies on Hole Nos. 2 and 13 from about 25 and 15 feet respectively and sinking an eagle on the eighth from 30 feet. A three-putt bogey on 17 was his only blemish as he was one of three players shooting in the 60s. The first round scoring average was 74.52.
Matsuyama said he was over the moon following Kajitani’s success last weekend when the 17-year-old triumph in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur following a play-off. “What she did was fantastic. I wish I could have seen it. I was playing down in Texas, so I wasn’t able to see her play, but hat’s off to her. Hopefully, I can follow in her footsteps and make Japan proud,” said Matsuyama.
“The greens were firm and fast. It was very important to hit your second shot on the proper side of the pin, and I was able to do that. I felt very good about my round today.”
His Masters record is rather impressive. As a 19-year-old, he finished T27 in his debut 10 years ago to earn Low Amateur Honours and has since finished top-10 twice, with a fifth place in 2015 being his career best, and three times in the top-20. He shot back-to-back 68s last November before fading in the weekend with a pair of 72s to finish T13. His 69 on Thursday was also his eighth consecutive round of par or better at Augusta National.
A five-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Matsuyama has not won since 2017 and he is also chasing to become the first Asian winner at the 85th playing of the Masters. “It’s my 10th year, but I’ve never seen the greens so firm and fast. So it was like a new course for me today, and I was fortunate to get it around well,” said Matsuyama.
Kim, 25, featured on the leaderboard for much of the day with a controlled display, saying he “escaped not losing my mind.” He made five birdies on the card but late bogeys on 15 and 16 knocked him back.
“Everything’s like pretty okay, and then I hit it good. I just escaped not losing my mind and just keep trying, keep trying, keep trying hard,” said Kim, who earned his third PGA TOUR victory in January.
Making his fifth consecutive appearance at Augusta National, Kim said he did not mind the contrast in playing conditions compared to last November. “It’s really different. Like five months ago, soft and a little bit slow, versus now it’s like super firm and fast. It’s a little harder I think, but it’s good for me. I like the fast greens,” said Kim, who has finished T24, T21 and T34 after a missed cut debut appearance in 2017.
After dropping a bogey on 11, which is the start of Amen Corner, Kim birdied the par-3 12th from about 15 feet and then made an easy two-putt birdie on the par-3 13th. “On 12, I’m not trying to make birdie, just trying to get on the green. It’s a good shot in there,” he said.
First-Round Notes – Thursday, April 8, 2021
Weather: Partly cloudy. High of 80. Wind SSW 10-15 mph, gusting to 20 mph.
Justin Rose 65 (-7)
Brian Harman 69 (-3)
Hideki Matsuyama 69 (-3)
Will Zalatoris 70 (-2)
Webb Simpson 70 (-2)
Christiaan Bezuidenhout 70 (-2)
Patrick Reed 70 (-2)
Things to Know
Justin Rose ties Jack Nicklaus for the most first-round leads/co-leads in Masters Tournament history
With a 7-under 65, Rose cards his best score in 59 rounds at the Masters
Rose’s four-shot cushion equals the second largest first-round lead at the Masters
Rose holds his 19th first-round lead/co-lead on the PGA TOUR (2-for-18 to date; 0-for-4 in major championships)
2015 champion Jordan Spieth rallies from a triple bogey on the par-4 ninth hole for a 1-under 71
Hideki Matsuyama cards his eighth consecutive par-or-better score at the Masters
Entering the week with top-five finishes in his previous two starts on TOUR, Brian Harman opens with a 69
Tommy Fleetwood records the 23rd ace on No. 16; marks his first ace in an individual stroke-play event on TOUR
2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed birdies No. 16 for the sixth straight time en route to a 70
Defending champion and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson posts a 74, including a double bogey on the final hole
First-round scoring comparisons: average (2020/71.413, 2021/74.523), under-par scores (2020/53, 2021/12), scores in the 60s (2020/24, 2021/3)
First-Round Lead Notes
17 First-round leaders/co-leaders to win the Masters Tournament
(most recent: Dustin Johnson/2020)
5 First-round leaders/co-leaders to win in 2020-21
Moraes retains ONE Flyweight World Title with shocking knockout of Johnson
Apr 09. 2021Adriano Moraes
ONE Championship (ONE) returned to U.S. prime time with “ONE on TNT I” live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The card featured a pair of ONE Super Series all-striking matches and four mixed martial arts fights, including a historic battle for the ONE Flyweight World Title.
In the main event, reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraesshocked the world with a second-round knockout of mixed martial arts legend and ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
Moraes utilized his height and reach advantage as he circled Johnson from the outside. Johnson tried to close the distance, but Moraes caught the challenger with an uppercut and knee before completing the stunning second-round finish with a barrage of ground strikes. It was the first knockout loss of Johnson’s storied career.
The co-main event between multiple-time Lightweight World Champion Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez and #2-ranked lightweight contender Iuri Lapicusended in controversial fashion. After a brief grappling exchange, the action was halted after the referee made the determination that Alvarez had landed illegal strikes to the back of the head, resulting in a red card and subsequent disqualification.
ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon was spectacular in his U.S. prime-time debut, winning a unanimous decision over “Mini T” Danial Williams after an explosive three-round contest. Williams came out firing from the opening bell, but Rodtang pressed the action and scored a knockdown in the second round with a sharp left hook. In the final round, Rodtang and Williams exchanged thunderous strikes in the center of the Circle to end the bout in style.
On the B/R lead card, welterweight contender Raimond Magomedaliev overcame a spirited effort from former ONE World Title challenger Tyler McGuire to earn a unanimous decision victory. In a rematch of featherweight kickboxing stars, Enriko “The Hurricane” Kehl edged out a split decision over the debuting Chingiz “Chinga” Allazov. And in a heavyweight clash, Senegalese sensation “Reug Reug” Oumar Kane pounded out Patrick “Big Swiss” Schmid for a TKO victory.
Official Results for “ONE on TNT I”
ONE Flyweight World Championship: Adriano Moraes defeats Demetrious Johnson via KO at 2:24 of round 2
Mixed Martial Arts – Lightweight: Iuri Lapicus defeats Eddie Alvarez via Disqualification at 1:03 of round 1
Muay Thai – Catch Weight (61.5 KG): Rodtang Jitmuangnon defeats Danial Williams via Unanimous Decision
Mixed Martial Arts – Welterweight: Raimond Magomedaliev defeats Tyler McGuire via Unanimous Decision
Asian esports players, staffers describe ‘unspeakable’ racism, harassment
Apr 08. 2021
By The Washington Post · Shannon Liao
“They call us Chinese, then harass us. The racism here is unspeakable.”
In a viral video with over 300,000 views since it was posted to Twitter on Tuesday, professional esports player Lee “Fearless” Eui-seok denounced hateful, anti-Asian acts he has experienced since coming to the United States. His comments have attracted attention across the esports industry and provided another example of the harassment and violence Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have faced throughout the country, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lee, a member of the Overwatch League’s Dallas Fuel team, was asked by a fan during a live stream what it’s been like for him since moving to Texas this year. “Being Asian here is terrifying, seriously,” he said in comments translated from Korean. “People keep trying to pick fights with us. Every time they see me, it’s like Americans will come up to us and there’s even people who cough on us. . . . It’s my first time ever experiencing racism. And it’s always – it’s pretty severe. And they try to scare us – lots of them just try to scare us.”
The video clip, taken from Amazon’s live-stream service Twitch, was interpreted by Jade Kim, 26, manager of the Florida Mayhem, another Overwatch League team. Kim said that when she first came across the clip from Lee, “it kind of just gave me whiplash.” (Twitch is owned by Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.)
Since coming to the United States for college, Kim said that she’s seen racism, and that hearing Lee’s comments reminded her of the “shock when I’d first experienced racism in the U.S. myself.”
Kim, who is from South Korea, said she was shocked when she arrived in the United States, learned about racially motivated harassment, saw the reactions of Asian Americans resigning after facing racism.
“My initial reaction after reaching out to people I knew on the Dallas staff, was just to not say anything else,” said Kim, who commonly goes by the name swingchip on social media. “But with everything going on in the States lately, I couldn’t let myself fold this one away as well, so I ended up translating the clip and posting it.”
Kim explained her motivations, saying, “Yes, I’m not a Dallas staff member, and yeah I don’t know Fearless personally, but I’m Korean too. I’m Asian too. I felt like that gave me enough reason to speak up and spread the word about it.”
Kim recalled an incident in February 2020 on a commercial flight from Florida to Philadelphia involving player Ha “Sayaplayer” Jung-woo when he competed with the Overwatch League’s Florida Mayhem.
Recounting the incident for The Post, Ha, who is now a pro “Valorant” player with the organization T1, said a White passenger lifted her phone high up and took photos of the Mayhem team throughout the flight, while Ha was trying to nap. Ha noticed that she was texting someone saying, there were so many “Chinese people” on the flight, and sending photos of the team. The person she texted replied with a swear word and then said, “Kill them all.”
Ha told The Post in comments translated from Korean by Kim, that at the time he had experienced several racist incidents, and just thought, “she was extremely pathetic.”
“I only found out about it later,” Kim said. “But the grief and anger I felt that he’d experienced that was quite strong, to say the least.”
Lee, often referred to as Fearless, signed with the Dallas Fuel on Nov. 7, during the Overwatch League’s offseason. He arrived in Texas early this year. On the stream, Lee began recounting how people he saw tended not to wear masks, though he and his team would. He then switched gears to talk about racially motivated harassment he was facing.
Lee described being cursed out for his race, and said he noticed that he was treated differently depending on whether he was wearing his team’s jersey or regular clothes.
“I wear my team jersey around on purpose,” he said on the stream. “If I have my jersey on, I think they realize we’re part of some kind of team, so they don’t bother us as much. But if I have my everyday clothes on, they run up to us, harass us, then run away.”
Activision Blizzard, which operates the Overwatch League, responded in a statement late Tuesday. “At Activision Blizzard, we condemn racism in the strongest possible terms,” the statement read. “We stand with the Asian community, our employees, and our players and are working across our organization, including esports, to do our part to combat hate and ignorance.”
Mike Rufail, founder and chief gaming officer of Envy Gaming, which owns and operates the Dallas Fuel, tweeted Tuesday night that he was “deeply saddened” by what his players were facing while walking on the streets of Texas.
While Dallas Fuel members received training on what to expect when arriving in their new city and how to prepare for people starting conversations with them, they were not trained on how to respond to racist harassment.
“It’s a bit shocking for it to be so close to our front door here,” Rufail told The Post on Wednesday. “When they landed here, we didn’t actually prepare them for specific occurrences like racism.”
The incidents Lee described occurred around the Victory Park area and the American Airlines Center, home to the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and the NHL’s Dallas Stars, when crowds would typically gather for sporting events, said Rufail. He added that the team has informed Victory Park and their building’s security teams to monitor the area more closely.
In some esports communities, particularly in the Overwatch League, many players are of Asian descent, and some do not speak English fluently. That can lead to a sense of disconnect between English-speaking fans and Asian players, noted Kim, the Florida Mayhem manager.
“That’s part of our job, is to show people that the players on the team, even if some of them don’t speak the best English and they’re Korean national players, they’re living here in the U.S. now. They’re like you and me, they’re like everybody else,” Rufail said. “We’re going to continue to . . . do a lot more content around the team to show their personality and I think people who might have a bit of a, we’ll say discriminatory type personality, might understand a little bit better that our Korean players can connect with them in a way that maybe they didn’t know previously.”
Other prominent figures in the esports industry have experienced racially motivated harassment.
“I’m not surprised, but it still hurts to hear,” said Harrison “Psalm” Chang, a professional “Valorant” player who came in second place in the 2019 Fortnite World Championship, about his reaction to the viral clip of Lee.
Chang said that in his online interactions on social media, people have left him racist comments about having small eyes or eating dogs, and making racist slurs that mocks Asian languages.
“I’ve experienced those comments as long as I’ve been online,” he said, adding that the coronavirus pandemic that originated in China has given “extra fuel” to people who already disliked Asians.
Ashley Kang, owner and interviewer for Korizon Esports, a “League of Legends”-centric media outlet and YouTube channel, recalled receiving racist comments. Kang is based in Seoul, but she hails from New Zealand.
“I remember a dozen occasions where I was called ching chong by strangers while walking in the streets of New Zealand and Berlin,” she said. “Still, it should no less normalize my own experience or that of Fearless.”
Esports organizations have issued statements against the recent spate of anti-Asian attacks. Andbox, which owns the New York Excelsior team in the Overwatch League, stated on March 16, “Racial discrimination has no place in our world, but members of the Asian community in New York and around the country continue to be victims of hateful words and acts. We proudly stand with this community and repudiate this behavior.” It then listed organizations that supported Asian communities.
Kang said that while racism is an issue that extends beyond esports, “the esports industry can also do its own part to stand up to the current situation and promote change. I respected a lot of esports orgs for releasing #StopAsianHate statements. Visibility matters, and is often the first step for bringing change.”
Esports leaders emphasized being proactive.
“More esports companies can maybe stay ahead of having to go through one of these situations to do something about it,” said Rufail, the founder of Envy Gaming. “Certainly at Envy, even when we’re not going through things like this in the future, we will be trying to create awareness in certain areas for this just because I see it starting to unwind the fabric of this entire country. And maybe it has been for a long time.”
Williams has no fear ahead of bout against Rodtang
Apr 08. 2021Danial Williams
ONE Super Series debutant “Mini T” Danial Williams is joining the world’s largest martial arts organization ready to face the biggest test of his young career.
Williams will take on Thai striking superstar Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon on the main card of “ONE on TNT I,” the first installment of a four-part event series which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on Wed., April 7 (Thu., April 8 in Thailand on ONE Super App, ONE Championship Youtube, and AIS Play at 7.30 AM).
It’s a bout that will be available for a massive American audience, live on United States prime time television. Williams isn’t at all fazed by the challenge that lies before him, and counts Rodtang as any other fighter he’s fought in the ring.
“It’s absolutely huge, but I guess it just hasn’t hit me yet,” Williams told ONE Championship in a recent interview.
“I’m just going to keep my head down and focus on my training. I’m not going to buy into the whole thing and get overwhelmed about how crazy big [this fight] is. I’m just focusing on Rodtang. It’s just going to be me and him in the cage at the end of the day, anyway. He’s only human.”
Rodtang is one of the most exciting fighters in ONE Championship. The 23-year-old Thai fighter has remained unbeaten in ONE Super Series. He currently holds the ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Title, although the bout against Williams, which is at a catchweight of 61.5-kg, will be a non-title affair.
Williams knows exactly how he’s going to approach the fight, and says he’s coming in with a solid game plan.
“I can be a bit wild with the chin up, but I think being a bit jumpy and having different footwork brings a different game. I see a similar style [between us], but it’s a little bit different,” said Williams.
“I’ll want to fight in his face, but not be too crazy, and when we exchange, pick his gaps as well. So when he swings wildly, I’ll swing wildly back at him, but be a bit more careful. [Also, I’ll be] using fakes and a little more footwork because I don’t like fighting Thais the same way they fight, so I’m going to make a few tweaks and be a bit more unpredictable with my shots.”
If Williams were to defeat Rodtang, it would certainly be a surprising result, and the Australian fighter says he isn’t afraid to gun for the most shocking victory possible.
“I would like this [bout to end] with a knockout. It would be awesome to evade one of his shots and give one back and stop him. Of course, that would be the ultimate, ultimate thing,” said Williams.
“That’s something I’ve envisioned every day. That would be a cool outcome, but I don’t want to sound too cocky because I respect him a lot, and until we touch gloves, I won’t actually be able to feel his power. But I’m not scared. That’s the big thing. I’m not scared at all.”
In the main event of “ONE on TNT I,” reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes defends his world title against ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix / 12-time UFC World Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
Also on the card, former UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez takes on #2-ranked lightweight contender Iuri Lapicus, while reigning ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang “The Iron Man” Jitmuangnon makes an appearance.
Pan plans to stick to sandwiches and sightseeing for another Masters high
Apr 07. 2021C.T. Pan ( Photo credit to Getty Images)
Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan plans to maintain his recipe for another successful Masters Tournament appearance this week.
When he made his debut in November, the 29-year-old made sure he enjoyed the full Augusta National experience which included sampling all the famous sandwiches, marveling at the magnificent sights around the venerable venue and most importantly, managing his own expectations.
The result was an impressive tied seventh finish – the best by a Chinese Taipei golfer in the tournament’s storied history – and Pan now plans to keep to the same drill in the year’s first major which starts on Thursday.
“Can’t wait to go back there for the food,” said Pan. “We had some wonderful fillet mignon steak for our dinner and I loved the pimento cheese sandwich and the egg sandwich. I think I tried all the sandwiches they had for us.
“Being a first timer (in November), I did not have much expectation and that mindset helped as I was able to enjoy myself more on the golf course. I was sightseeing quite a bit, enjoyed the views, and enjoyed the memories of being at the Masters which I grew up watching with my late father and brother. It was an unbelievable experience being there on the first tee for the first time. It was really cool for me.”
Pan fired rounds of 70, 66, 74 and 68 for a 10-under 278 total which secured a quick return to the prestigious tournament which stands out through a lifetime exemption afforded to the winner, who also receives a green jacket. It also proved to be an emotional week for Pan, whose late father had been instrumental in his golf career.
A recent top-3 finish at The Honda Classic, his first top-10 since November, has also put Pan in a good frame of mind ahead of this week’s showpiece, which he grew up watching in the wee hours of the mornings back home in Taipei.
“It is an amazing week. As a kid, the first major I watched on TV was the Masters which always meant more than the other majors. I remember all the holes, especially on the back nine. Now that I’ve been here and had such a great performance and a top-10 finish, it means a lot. It is a good confidence boost,” he said.
“Getting back … that’s the best reward as you play hard for four days and knowing I would be back in a few months, that was really special. As a kid, I dreamed of being there one day. I obviously wish my dad is still in this world to watch me. After I finished four rounds, my brother texted me as it was an emotional week for him too as we watched it growing up together. It was a special week for our family.”
The former world No. 1 amateur golfer won his lone PGA TOUR title, the RBC Heritage, the week after Tiger Woods’ Masters victory in 2019 and then had to wait 19 months to reap the ultimate reward for his career breakthrough in the U.S. With COVID-19 disrupting the sporting world last year, he finally took his Masters bow last November and it was well worth the wait. “It’s such an iconic event on the PGA TOUR. The was a lot of news coverage back home. It was a big achievement, the best performance by a Chinese Taipei player. Things were going crazy back home,” recalled Pan.
“The thing I’m looking forward to is the golf course, which is so special although it plays really hard. I did pretty well with my putting and part of the reason was that I hired a local caddie (Derrick Redd) and will use him again. Last year’s T7 was a big encouragement. I’ve set my objective for a top-20 for this year. I know there will be pressure.”
Korea’s Im believes his time will come at The Masters
Apr 07. 2021Sungjae Im (Photo credit to Getty Images)
Finishing joint runner-up in a dream Masters Tournament debut last November has fuelled Sungjae Im’s fire to one day don the famous green jacket in his bid to rewrite golf history.
The Korean rising star rose to the occasion at Augusta National during his first visit and briefly threatened eventual winner Dustin Johnson in the final round before settling for tied second place alongside Australian Cameron Smith.
The ultra-talented Im, the highest ranked Asian golfer on the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup points list and Official World Golf Ranking at 19th position, got to within one stroke of Johnson before the powerful American shifted into fifth gear and raced to a five-shot victory.
“Last year at the 5th hole, I was just one behind Dustin which made me think at that point ‘I could really win today’. Unfortunately, I finished runner-up but this was an incredible result for me in a major. With that performance, I think I’m certainly competitive enough to win major tournaments in the near future,” said the 23-year-old, whose performance eclipsed countryman K.J. Choi’s third place finish in the 2004 Masters as the best Asian result here.
Im enters the year’s first major in typically solid form. In nine stroke play events to date in 2021, he has two top-10s, four top-25s and have not missed a single cut on TOUR. He will no doubt ride on some good vibes from last year’s impressive showing, and with a little more experience behind his burgeoning golf career.
“The most memorable moment was that I could stay in the top-10, which really amazed me, and also playing with Dustin, who is the best player in the world. This is one event that I will remember the most and playing at Augusta National made me feel proud as I’ve always watched this tournament on TV when I was young,” said Im, who has one victory on the PGA TOUR.
“I played very well last year, and I hope to play the same this week. I hope I can make another top-10 or get near the top this week. Augusta National’s greens are so fast and they have big slopes and I need to set my strategy right to be in the best positions. Course management will be important,” he said.
To him, the Masters Tournament and its traditions set it apart the other major championships.
“The Masters is definitely the biggest among all four major events. I’m eager to compete for the Masters title and win the green jacket. It’s a dream for everyone. If we win it once, we get an exemption into the tournament for rest of our lives. This makes winning extra special here,” said Im.
With fans returning to the Masters this week after being barred on site last November due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Im is feeling a bit anxious ahead of his second appearance. “Players who played here with spectators have shared their experiences and some of them said they were quite nervous with spectators watching on the golf course (because of the added pressure). I think I would be slightly nervous too playing in front of crowds,” he said.
Asia’s challenge will also be carried by Im’s countryman Si Woo Kim, Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama and Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan, who enjoyed a tied seventh finish in his debut here in November.
Thai supercar champ Sandy back in cockpit to defend title
Apr 06. 2021Sandy Kraokaew Stuvik
By THE NATION
The first round will take place on April 23-25 at Chang International Circuit, in Buriram.
Thai-Norwegian racing driver Sandy Kraokaew Stuvik will compete in two series this year after bagging his second consecutive Thailand Super Series (TSS) GT3 driver’s title in 2020.
In 2021, Thai motorsport fans can look forward to seeing Sandy defend his TSS title while also driving the GT World Challenge Asia in the Audi R8 GT3 Evo.
Thailand Super Series is the largest and most professional racing series in Thailand, with GT3 being the premier category.
Sandy’s teammate in the B-Quik Absolute Racing team will be announced soon.
This season will consist of eight races in four rounds – three rounds at Chang International Circuit, in Buri Ram, and one round at the prestigious Bangsaen Grand Prix in Chonburi.
“I will do my best to add a third championship to my name,” said Sandy.
“The team has been working hard during the off-season, and I feel that we are readier than ever before. See you at round one!”
Sandy also plans to compete in the GT World Challenge Asia with the support of Audi Sport Customer Racing Asia, if organisers decide the series can take place safely.
Meanwhile, car e-commerce platform Carsome will become a title sponsor on the #1 B-Quik Absolute Racing Audi R8 GT3 Evo this season. The largest integrated car e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia is looking to expand in the Thai market.
“We are excited to join forces with the reigning champion of the Thailand Super Series, Sandy Stuvik, a homegrown talent in Thailand who shares the same aspirations of being the best. We look forward to a fruitful partnership through this unison of champions and we wish Sandy the best in both series this year,” said Carsome co-founder and group CEO, Eric Cheng.