SIEM REAP, Cambodia – Siddikur Rahman hopes his life-changing victory on the Asian Tour will inspire more Bangladeshis, especially the less privileged, to take up golf.
The 26-year-old became the first man from Bangladesh to win on the Asian Tour when he claimed the Brunei Open in August, and will try to live up to expectations as he competes this week at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open.
“To be honest, I don’t really see myself as a superstar despite the widespread publicity on my achievements back home,” Siddikur said. “I’m just happy to do my part in growing the popularity of golf in my country. It’s nice to know that I’ve set the benchmark for my countrymen to follow.”
Siddikur grew up poor and worked as a caddie at the Kurmitola Golf Club in Dhaka to fund his school education, and eventually got interested in the game. He graduated tour Q-School in 2009.
After his success in Brunei, Siddikur narrowly missed out on his second title in October when he lost in a playoff to Pariya Junhasavasdikul at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
He had another noteworthy performance when he tied for fifth in the Hero Honda India Open last week, and is among the early favorites in this week’s US$300,000 tournament at Phokeethra Country Club.
Among the other big names in the field are defending champion Marcus Both of Australia, Mardan Mamat of Singapore as well as Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant and Thongchai Jaidee, who jointly hold the most number of Asian Tour victories at 12.
As the penultimate event on the 2010 Asian Tour schedule, the battle for playing rights for next season intensifies. The top 61 on the money list earn cards for 2011. Artemio Murakami of the Philippines is currently 70th and knows what he needs to do to keep his card.
“My form has been bad this season,” Murakami said. “I’ve been struggling a lot, especially with my driver. But I know that I’m capable of better results. I’ve always done well at this golf course.”