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Randhawa set to be top-earner

Kuala Lumpur: India’s Jyoti Randhawa will hope to complete a remarkable comeback from injury this week by wrapping up the Asian Order of Merit at the Masters of Asia starting Thursday.

Randhawa, who takes a $ 23,706 lead into the season-ending event having earned $ 262,330 so far, broke his collar bone in a motorcycle accident in March, but has been in sparkling form since an enforced six-month layoff.

The 30-year-old has not missed a cut since returning to action in September and moved into top spot in Asia when he finished runner-up to Ireland’s Padraig Harrington at the Asian Open in Taiwan last month.

He also finished an impressive fifth in October’s star-studded Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and tied for eighth in the Hong Kong Open last week where he was joint leader at the halfway mark.

It is this form that has enabled him to replace Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, Asian number one last year, as leader of the Order of Merit.

If Randhawa manages to secure the money list crown at this week’s inaugural $500,000 event at Kota Permai Golf and Country Club, he will become the first Indian to do so in the eight-year history of the Asian PGA Tour.

“I think the injury from the bike accident has helped me to focus better,” Randhawa, the son of a retired army general, told the Asian PGA website.

“For six months I wasn’t able to play and just sitting there gave me a lot of time to think and it made me refresh my mind. It helped me focus on my goals and I’m more focused when I'm playing now.

“Finishing fifth in the Dunhill Links also gave me a lot of confidence — appearing in the best European field where the top 25 players in the world were playing. Once you’ve finished up there in a European Tour event it gives you the confidence and mental ability to do it time and again.”

The lanky Indian will also look to his yoga instructor Sukhdev Singh, who will double up as his caddie in Kuala Lumpur, to help his preparations. Singh also helped Randhawa prepare in Taiwan.

“It was the first time I’d brought my instructor out to an event,” added Randhawa, who married Tina Singh, the sister of fellow Asian PGA professional Digvijay Singh, in 2000.

Randhawa, runner-up on the Asian money list in 2000, appreciates he will have to put the money race to the back of his mind when he tees off this week.

It is this focus that has served Randhawa so well since turning professional in 1994 and joining the inaugural Asian PGA Tour a year later.

A four-times winner in Asia, Randhawa is renowned as one of the slowest and most particular of competitors on the Asian circuit, so much so that his pace of play earned the wrath of Thomas Bjorn in Hong Kong last week. But the Indian, third on the Asian PGA’s all-time money list, is clearly his own man and brushed aside the Danish Ryder Cup player’s complaints.

Good news for the Asian PGA Tour and further evidence of a growing confidence that should see him crowned Asian number one in Malaysia this weekend.

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