Filipino golf star Pagunsan feeling the pressure

Filipino star and reigning Asian Tour number one Juvic Pagunsan admits that the pressure is on at the Queen's Cup starting on Thursday in Thailand as he chases his first title on the tour since 2007.

The 34-year-old, who last season became the first man from the Philippines to capture the Order of Merit, leads the field at the $300,000 event at Santiburi Samui Country Club in the holiday spot of Koh Samui.

His biggest challengers are likely to be title-holder Chawalit Plaphol and fellow local hopes Prom Meesawat, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thaworn Wiratchant.

Bangladeshi Siddikur, Australia's Scott Hend and Anirban Lahiri of India -- who are in the top-10 of the Merit list -- are also strong contenders.

"I'm really excited to be playing. I'm hitting it good. Recently, I played well in Japan, finished fourth in the last couple of weeks," Pagunsan told the Asian Tour.

"Samui is one of the best places in Asia. Everybody wants to come here."

Pagunsan shot to fame last season when he lifted the Merit crown thanks largely to a second-place finish at the cash-rich Barclays Singapore Open.

But with only one victory to his name, back in 2007, the Filipino, who will compete in the British Open next month, wants to start winning again to justify his status as Asia's number one.

"It's big pressure to be at the top, even for me. You need to concentrate and play well to prove to people how you got there is not by chance," said Pagunsan, who finished third in the 2010 Queen's Cup.

"I'm still trying to be a better player. This course is tough. You need to hit it straight, which is a big challenge. If you miss your drive or miss your second shot, it'll be tough to come back."

Home star Chawalit, who has been victorious twice at the course nicknamed the Samui Beast, is banking on his local knowledge to successfully defend his crown.

"It's a big tournament for Thai players. Everyone wants to win the Queen's Trophy. There is no pressure as the defending champion. I'm quite relaxed," he said.

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