Korea's Kang looks to upset hard-luck Fryatt
Kang Wook-soon will be aiming to thrust another dagger in the golfing heart of Ed Fryatt when the US$500,000 Omega PGA Championship tees-off at Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club this morning.
Courtesy of his triumph in last week's Perrier Hong Kong Open at Fanling, South Korean Kang soared 58 places in the Asian PGA's Omega Order of Merit standings, and into contention for the title he claimed in 1997.
With a hefty cheque of US$80,750 awaiting the winner on Sunday, 11 players enter the last full-field event of the season with a chance of capturing the prized merit crown.
Leading the way is Fryatt, runner-up to Kang last week. Although he won the Volvo China Open in Shanghai and has accumulated earnings of US$135,217 this campaign, the US-based Englishman's fledgeling career has been dogged by ill-fortune.
Last year, he was denied the Asian Tour's Order of Merit when South Korean Kim Jong-duk chipped in for a winning birdie on the final hole of the Kirin Open in Japan.
This year, he has also had to endure numerous heart-breaking experiences, the most recent of which came on Fanling's 16th hole last week when his approach shot plugged under the lip of a greenside bunker, from where he took two to escape en route to a double-bogey six that effectively scuppered his hopes of victory.
Although Kang is now poised in seventh place with US$70,022, perhaps the greatest threat to Fryatt this week will come from his closest rivals in the merit list, American Shaun Micheel and Englishman Chris Williams, the only two-time winner on this year's Tour.
Of the others who still have a mathematical chance of usurping Fryatt are American Gerry Norquist, veteran Thai Boonchu Ruangkit and Taiwan's Lu Wen-teh.
Among those looking to catapult themselves into the top-10 with victory are rising American star Ted Purdy and Hong Kong representatives Scott Rowe and Dominique Boulet.
Also seeking a share of the spoils is Hong Kong-based American professional Brad Schadewitz, who had a fairytale Hong Kong Open at the weekend when he finished joint fifth.
The biggest gallery support, however, is likely to be afforded to Zhang Lianwei , making only his sixth Omega Tour appearance of 1998.