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Defending Champion Seeks Toy Story Sequel at Faldo Series Asia Grand Final

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26 February 2018

Lăng Cô Town, Hue, Vietnam (February 26): Happy memories will flood back for Thailand's Napat Paramacharoenroj when he makes an emotional return to Laguna Lăng Cô for the 12th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final.

Napat – nicknamed 'Toy' – snared a 35-foot birdie putt on the final green to claim a memorable triumph at the acclaimed Faldo Design course last year.

"That last putt on the 18th will never leave my mind. I was just trying to two-putt and thought it would be a play-off," said the talented 16-year-old, who is bidding to follow in the footsteps of Indian Rashid Khan and become only the second player to successfully defend his title at the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final.

To be contested from March 1-3, The R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking event will feature qualifiers from more than 20 countries, including winners from the 21st Faldo Series Europe Grand Final and the inaugural Faldo Series United States Grand Final.

Six-time Major champion and tournament founder Sir Nick Faldo, who is hosting the Asia Grand Final, said: "We have more than 80 talented young golfers from around the world joining us at Laguna Lăng Cô and I'm looking forward to another exciting week.

"Last year, Napat showed tremendous skill and composure down the stretch. To make a birdie on 18 to win under such intense pressure at the final hole was commendable."

Napat is under no illusion as to how difficult his task will be this week.

"Even though my form has been good since the start of 2018, I know it will not be easy to retain my title as there are so many great players taking part," said Napat, whose victory 12 months ago earned him a spot in the Faldo Series Europe Grand Final where he finished second in the Boys' Under-16 category.

At the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates at the end of November, Napat was edged out by England's Josh Hill, whose appearance in Vietnam will add an extra edge to proceedings.

As well as receiving the Faldo Series Asia trophy, the overall winner at Laguna Lăng Cô will be granted an exemption into an Asian Tour event. The Girls' winner will be given a start in a Ladies European Tour event. Both will also earn themselves a trip to compete in the 22nd Faldo Series Europe Grand Final.

Faldo also praised the Laguna Lăng Cô venue. He said: "This is the second year in succession that we've brought the Faldo Asia Series Grand Final to Vietnam and Laguna Lăng Cô, a course which I visit often and I am most proud of designing.

"Our hosts at Laguna Lăng Cô and Banyan Tree Resorts are contributing greatly to growing opportunity through golf and developing tomorrow's champions. In addition, some of the best young golfers in the world are now having the experience of visiting and enjoying golf and hospitality in Vietnam.

"My thanks go to our sponsors, The R&A, European Tour, Asian Tour, PGA Tour and the PGA of America who all support us every day to grow the game of golf around the world."

The 2017-18 Faldo Series Asia season is supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation. The International Junior Golf Academy is a partner of the Faldo Series.

As well as two events in China and Thailand, championships were staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.

Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past champions include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, both multiple Major winners.