Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman is hoping to cast the spotlight on golf in his country when the €2.3 million, approximately US$3 million Omega European Masters begins on Thursday.
The 29-year-old, who has created an impact in Asia by winning twice on the Asian Tour, is looking to deliver a similar performance that would make the galleries in Europe take notice of Bangladesh’s golfing ambassador.
As the only co-sanctioned Asian Tour event to be staged on European soil since 2009, the Omega European Masters will present Siddikur with the perfect opportunity to set the stage alight at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club this week.
“I feel very proud of being a Bangladeshi and representing my country. Golf is a relatively unknown sport in Bangladesh but I hope to be a great ambassador for the sport by doing well in every tournament that I play in all over the world,” said Siddikur, who started playing the game with a makeshift seven iron head stuck on a metal rod.
Growing up from humble beginnings in Dhaka with three other brothers, Siddikur was trusted into the limelight after he became the first player from Bangladesh to win on the Asian Tour in Brunei in 2010.
He would go on to savour his biggest career victory at the Indian Open three years later and finish inside the top-10 of the Order of Merit for the third time in the last four years last season.
Apart from playing a vital role in securing a historic draw with Europe at the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in Malaysia in March, Siddikur has also enjoyed three top-three finishes including two runner-up so far this year.
“I’m feeling very confident about my game. The first half of the season wasn’t bad and I’m really looking forward to the second half with the winning of the Order of Merit title as one of my goals,” said Sidikur, who is currently in ninth place on the money list.
Siddikur’s challenge will be put to test by the strong European Tour field that includes Wales’ Jamie Donaldson, France’s Victor Dubuisson and defending champion Thomas Bjorn of Denmark who is looking forward to rekindle his love affair with the Omega European Masters.
“I’ve always had a great relationship with this tournament. It comes at a time of the year when you need something different to give you a little boost, because it’s such a tough schedule over the summer months.
It can be hard work, but it never feels like hard work coming here. The place never fails to amaze and excite you, no matter how many times you visit,” said Bjorn.
Meanwhile Dubuisson believes he is capable of going one better this year after suffering the agony of missing out on a grandstand finish when he finished in third place last year.
“I didn’t play that well the first few years, because it’s a course you need to get to know well. But last year I managed to play well and came close to winning, so that obviously gives me confidence for this week.
The changes have definitely improved the course, so hopefully I can have another good performance,” said the Frenchman.
The Omega European Masters marks the start of the second half of the Asian Tour 2014 season and will welcome the return of many of the region’s best players including India’s Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar, Philippines’ Angelo Que, Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant and Korea’s Baek Seuk-hyun.