Malaysian Nicholas Fung’s dreams of playing in Japan will finally be fulfilled when he tees up in the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup on Thursday.
Sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour, the Diamond Cup boasts a lucrative prize fund of 150million Yen (approximately US$1.5 million) at the Ohtone Country Club which Fung will be shooting for.
Fung’s desire to play in Japan since turning professional is largely fuelled by the golfing culture and landscape from the Land of the Rising Sun.
His aspirations to tee up in Japan became bolder after a string of sterling performances on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) and Asian Tour last season where he won the ADT Order of Merit courtesy of one victory and three runner-up finishes.
“It has always been my dream to play and compete in Japan since I turned pro. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about the golf courses over here and the high level of competition that I want to experience it for myself.
“There’s a lot at stake this week with a huge prize purse and world ranking points available and I really want to give my best,” said Fung.
The 24-year-old has been making great strides in his game since bursting onto the scene as a national team golfer for Malaysia.
Besides the ADT Order of Merit crown, Fung also secured his Asian Tour card by finishing 32nd on the rankings last season.
His strong finish to the 2013 season also earned him a captain’s pick for the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM where he featured in Asia’s memorable draw with Europe in March.
Fung will reunite with his EurAsia Cup teammates as Japan’s Koumei Oda and Hideto Tanihara, Korea’s Kim Hyung-sung, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and India’s Anirban Lahiri are also in the elite field this week.
“I’ve been playing quite steadily during the first six months of this year. I’ve only missed one cut all season and that was in Koh Samui (Queen’s Cup). I believe the signs are there that my first win on the Asian Tour is coming,” said the Malaysian.
It will be an intriguing match-up between Japan’s best players and the cream de crop from the Asian Tour where over 35 tournaments winners will feature at the Diamond Cup.
Other Asian Tour stalwarts set to light up at the Japanese showpiece include current Order of Merit leader David Lipsky, who became the first player from the Asian Tour to win the co-sanctioned Omega European Masters in Switzerland earlier this month.
China’s Liang Wen-chong and Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng, who is an eight-time Asian Tour winner and four-time champion in Japan, will also be among the favourites to win the Diamond Cup.
The Diamond Cup is one of the oldest tournaments in Japan dating back to 1969. Now known as the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup, the prestigious event has also been elevated to regional Open Championship status following an agreement between the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation and the Japan Golf Association.
The event continues to receive strong backing from Mitsubishi Corporation and Kansai Telecasting Corporation.
The Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup is owned by Mitsubishi Corporations, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation and Japan Golf Association.