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Challengers target three-time champions in AGR four-ball contest

Cousins Khusaal Thackersey and Amish Jaitha pose with the trophy after winning last year’s Angkor Four-Ball Championship. Photo supplied
Cousins Khusaal Thackersey and Amish Jaitha pose with the trophy after winning last year’s Angkor Four-Ball Championship. Photo supplied

Challengers target three-time champions in AGR four-ball contest

As the golfing fraternity's attention turns towards the 2018 US Masters and its famed Green Jacket in Augusta, half a world away in Siem Reap, the stage is set for one of the Kingdom's highly anticipated events, the fourth annual Angkor Four-Ball Championship, which tees off on Friday at the Angkor Golf Resort.

All eyes will be on three-time champions Amish Jaitha and Khusaal Thackersey, who are looking to create AGR tournament history by securing their fourth consecutive triumph at the globally hailed risk-for-reward AGR layout created by six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo.

The formidable pairing of the cousins from India, however, is likely to run into stiff competition this year from the Australian duo of Neville Hogan and Zakary Hastings, who bring a wealth of experience and handicaps of +1 and +2 respectively.

Also in the fray are Mark Johnson and Will Schoenfeld, who will return from the United States to mount a serious challenge to these form favourites.

Local interest is centred around the pairing of Ly Hong and Tan Savun, and Cambodian national team members Im Reahul and Sim Sou Yong, both of whom will be hoping that their knowledge of and familiarity with the AGR course will give them an advantage.

Cambodian charge

“We’re all set for a fantastic weekend of golf. We have a strong field and I think all the prize divisions are wide open. Amish and Khusaal will take some beating, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of our Cambodian teams making a charge this year on home links,'' said AGR director of Golf David Baron, who is also a member of the British PGA.

''I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our partners and sponsors for their contributions, particularly Heineken, represented by Cambodia Brewery. These contributions help to ensure the participants have the best possible experience while they are here in Siem Reap, which is rapidly becoming one of the most popular sports tourism golf destinations in the region," Baron said.

Last year Jaitha and Thackersey fired on all cylinders to claw back from a four-shot deficit over leaders Stephen Kennedy and Mark Penfold of Australia to complete an exhilarating back-to-back triumph, having dominated the event the previous year.

Four-ball is a style of team golf often used in group competition, including the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.

As the rules permit strong play by one teammate to offset less than effective play by their partner, it is often a sound strategy to pair an aggressive player with someone who is steady rather than spectacular. A tactic that has worked to the advantage of the Indian cousins as reflected in their results over the past three years.

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