Upbeat Watson ready to fire
After securing his first tournament victory outside the United States at last week's WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, Bubba Watson says he is looking to continue his winning run when he returns to the region for next month's Thailand Golf Championship.
Watson, who defeated Tim Clarkin a play-off after forcing sudden-death with a brilliant eagle on the final hole of regulation play for his first World Golf Championship title, lines up against a top-class field of players at Amata Spring Country Club for the Asian Tour's flagship event, which will be played from Dec 11-14.
The two-time Masters champion's best result in Thailand came in 2012 when he finished tied second behind runaway winner Charl Schwartzel — but with his confidence boosted by his fine play in China, the left-hander is hoping to go one better at the US$1 million event.
"Winning internationally has long been a goal of mine, so to break through in Shanghai was a really big deal for me," said Watson. "It sets me up great for the Thailand Golf Championship next month. It's an event I love playing, over a course that sets up really well for me, so hopefully I can make it a case of third time lucky at Amata Spring."
Meanwhile, award-winning young guns Chesson Hadley and Carlos Ortiz, both of whom have enjoyed hugely successful seasons in the United States, will make their debut appearances at the Thailand Golf Championship.
American Hadley, the 2014 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, and Ortiz, who swept all before him on the Web.com Tour to earn Player of the Year honours, will join a cast of international stars who have already confirmed their participation at the tournament. In addition to Watson, these include defending champion Sergio Garcia, reigning US Open champion Martin Kaymer as well as past winner Lee Westwood, his Ryder Cup colleague Victor Dubuisson and South African legend Ernie Els.
Hadley, who won his first PGA Tour event at the Puerto Rico Open in March on his way to finishing in 49th in the FedEx Cup Play-offs, and Ortiz, 23, who earned three tournament victories to automatically graduate to the PGA Tour, have some experience of playing in Southeast Asia's tropical climate having competed at the CIMB Classic two weeks ago in Malaysia. That outing has whetted the pair's appetite for golf in the region and both are aiming for a strong first appearance at Amata Spring.
"You only have to look at the quality of field for the Thailand Golf Championship to see how important playing in Asia has become," said Hadley.
"I've heard so much about the tournament and Thailand as a whole that I'm really looking forward to competing. It would be awesome to end the year with a win."
Ortiz, who hails from Guadalajara, Mexico and grew up playing the same course as LPGA legend Lorena Ochoa, is equally effusive about making the trip to Thailand.
"Golf has really become a global game and I'm excited about the opportunity of showing the Thai fans what I'm capable of," said Ortiz.
"To play alongside Major champions, Ryder Cup players and the bestgolfers in Asia is going to be a truly great experience and will help my development as a professional."