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India's rising golfing stars Gaganjeet Bhullar and C. Muniyappa, who became the latest Indians to break through on the Asian Tour last year, will launch title challenges in the opening event of the year at the Asian Tour International next week.

The event will be held from Feb 4-7 at the Suwan Golf and Country Club.

The 21-year-old Bhullar was a revelation of last year where he won the Indonesia President Invitational and posted three other runner-up finishes to finish sixth on the Asian Tour Order of Merit. He also made his Major debut at the British Open.

'Last year was a dream year and I feel really pumped up about the new season ahead. I'll be playing in our first event and I hope to get a good start. My aim is to keep improving every year, keep working hard and the results will come,' said Bhullar.

Muniyappa produced a memorable victory at the Hero Honda Indian Open when he outlasted Korea's Lee Sung in a play-off. A former caddie, Muniyappa's success was an inspiration to many underprivileged golfers.

Title holder James Kamte of South Africa will spearhead a cosmopolitan line-up of champions at the season-opening event. The big-hitting Kamte will relish a return to the event to defend his first career breakthrough achieved 12 months ago.

The South African made his Asian Tour debut at the Asian Tour International after earning his card through Qualifying School last year and then defeated Japanese veteran Tetsuji Hiratsuka, who has also confirmed his appearance in the US$300,000 event.

Turnaround win: Muniyappa has leapt from 97th to sixth place on the Order of Merit.
Other top names who will grace the event include Chinese Taipei's Chan Yih-shin, who won the final tournament of the 2009 season in Thailand, Australians Marcus Both and Darren Beck, Korean duo Mo Joong-kyung and Hwang Inn-choon, Filipino Angelo Que and Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat.

'To win my first tournament as a rookie was a dream come true. I just hit the ball so well that week,' said the 29-year-old Kamte, who was thrilled to play a practice round with Tiger Woods before the US Open, for which also he qualified.


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