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Dad-to-be Charoenkul bids for Hong Kong title without caddy wife

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Hong Kong (AFP)

Thailand's Gunn Charoenkul is challenging for his first Asian Tour win at the Hong Kong Open but without his regular caddy and "best friend" at his side -- she's due to give birth to their first child next month.

The 27-year old's wife Koyy was working in a bank when they met, but quit her job last year for a regular partnership on the greens and fairways.

Gunn credits her presence on the course with a boost in his self-confidence that helped him to a spree of top ten finishes last year, including several on the Asian Tour.

But it was tough love during the early days when Koyy was still grasping the intricacies of the game, he recalled Saturday after carding 65 at Fanling to sit just two shots off leader Wade Ormsby.

"She was like, 'why do others hit it straight and you don't? You can't hit it straight?'"

Gunn and Koyy discovered she was pregnant during the Shishido Hills competition in Japan last year, and the world number 151 has enlisted a close friend to carry the bag in Hong Kong.

The boys' banter is helping him stay positive, he says, but he and his wife still make time to talk every day.

"She's like a best friend," he said, adding that Koyy reminds him there is life after the eighteenth hole when he finds it hard "to shut golf out".

The Thai is not the only golfer to entrust his bag to one of his nearest and dearest.

US Master's champion Patrick Reed's caddy is his brother-in-law Kessler Karain -- who made headlines at the recent President's Cup in Melbourne when he was involved in an altercation with a heckling fan.

While Gunn goes into Sunday's final at Fanling as leader of the pack trying to chase down Ormsby, he says he has "no expectations. Just going to have fun out there."

He adds he is "not really" worried that he hasn't yet notched an Asian Tour win among his many top ten finishes.

"I would rather be very consistent throughout the year, than win and then not perform well at all," he said. "When it's time it's going to come."

Back in Bangkok, Koyy no doubt approves of his confidence -- but that didn't spare Gunn a recent dressing down.

"She said my outfit didn't match," he said of their last chat. "That's all she told me."

"But all in all I think she'll be happy with the way I played today."

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