Kuala Lumpur: Asian Tour golf great Thongchai Jaidee is aiming to launch a late season charge for an unprecedented fourth Order of Merit crown but conceded he would still be happy if compatriot Kiradech Aphibarnrat beats him to the top honour.
Thailand's Thongchai moved up one rung on the latest rankings to fourth position after finishing equal ninth at the European Masters in Switzerland, picking up $58,805 to raise his season's tally to $238,391.
Merit leader Kiradech, winner of the Malaysian Open in March, finished 44th to take his season's earnings to $679,999 as he stayed well ahead of the chasing pack who failed to narrow the gap at the top.
India's Gaganjeet Bhullar, who finished joint 62nd over the weekend, remained a distant second with $276,465. Bhullar will defend his title at this week's $500,000 Tournament Players Championship (TPC) in Taipei.
"It's nice to make a move on the Order of Merit and there are still several big events coming up and that can change. I've not finalised my schedule for the rest of the season but I know I'm going to be very busy till the end of the year. I stand a good chance of winning my fourth Order of Merit title but I don't want to think too far ahead," said Thongchai, who was Asia's No.1 in 2001, 2004 and 2009.
"It's nice to see Kiradech leading and it doesn't matter if I don't win it. As long as a Thai wins, it'll be good for golf in Thailand," added the 43-year-old.
Players are also fighting to be inside the top-10 of the Order of Merit as of Oct 7 to qualify for the $7 million CIMB Classic in Malaysia, co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour. The leading two players, not otherwise exempt as of Oct 14, will also earn spots in the $8.5 WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
India's Shiv Kapur brightened his chances to feature in Malaysia with a tied 26th result at the European Masters. He earned $26,259 to jump from 11th to ninth with American Berry Henson in 10th.
"It's an important goal for me to move into the top-10. My next tournament is going to be in Japan (Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open) and I want to get into the CIMB Classic as that has been one of my goals this year. I'll be going to Japan and Taipei (Taiwan Masters) and hopefully some really good results over there will see me through," said Kapur.
Asian Tour Order of Merit Top-10:
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) $679,999
Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) $276,465
Scott Hend (AUS) $273,128
Thongchai Jaidee (THA) $238,391
Liang Wen-chong (CHN) $185,383
Baek Seuk-hyun (KOR) $171,198
Anirban Lahiri (IND) $148,085
Wade Ormsby (AUS) $145,317
Shiv Kapur (IND) $129,934
Berry Henson (USA) $116,478