New Delhi: Struggling for form, Indian golfer SSP Chowrasia lost his top spot in the Asian Tour's Order of Merit, overtaken by Japanese star Tetsuji Hiratsuka following his victory at the just-concluded Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open.
Hiratsuka overhauled Chowrasia, winner of the season-opening Avantha Masters, with his winner's cheque of USD 384,000 raising his season's tally to USD 435,817.
Chowrasia, who has earned USD 410,653 this year, missed the halfway cut in Japan last week to slip back to second position.
South Africa's Jbe Kruger moved up to third place with his equal fourth finish, which took his earnings to USD 252,817.
Bangladeshi Siddikur dropped back to fourth place on the rankings after finishing 24th with his season's earnings of USD 238,246 while Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, the only man to win the Merit title three times, remained in fifth position with USD 175,220.
Jeev Milkha Singh, Asia's number one in 2006 and 2008, continued his surge with a second successive tied fourth finish pushing him up to sixth place on the Order of Merit.
It was a big leap for the Indian star as the top-six players will qualify for the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in November while the top-10 players will qualify for the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, Malaysia next month after the conclusion of the Hero Indian Open on October 16.
India has three players in top-10 with Chowrasia (second), Jeev Milkha (sixth) and Shiv Kapur (10th) and another two in top-20 with Sujjan Singh (14th) and Anirban Lahiri (18th).
The Asian Tour will take a week's break before heading to Taipei for the second edition of the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club from October 6-9. Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant is the title holder.
Hiratsuka, the only player to win three titles on the Asian Tour last year, was delighted to top the rankings for the first time this season but the 39-year-old knows there is still a long way to go before he can start thinking about being Asia's number one by the end of the year.