Bangkok, January 10: A total of 223 hopefuls will vie for the much-sought after Asian Tour cards when the all-important Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage presented by the Sports Authority of Thailand starts on Wednesday.
The Suvarnabhumi Golf and Country Club will be the host venue where final stage will be played over four rounds. After 36 holes, the field will be cut to the leading 80 players and ties who will then play a further two rounds. At the conclusion of 72 holes, the leading 35 players and ties will be ranked accordingly for the 2017 Asian Tour season.
Players from 30 countries will tee up at the Suvarnabhumi Golf and Country Club and they include nationalities from as far as Venezuela, Poland, Colombia and the United States.
Among the notable entrants are Australia’s Richard Green, England’s Steve Lewton, India’s C. Muniyappa and Malaysia’s Ben Leong. Together with former Tour winners that include Australia’s Rick Kulacz and David Gleeson, India’s Himmat Rai as well as Thailand’s Arnond Vongvanij, Udorn Duangdecha and Chawalit Plaphol, this year’s Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage will present one of the toughest tests to aspiring professionals seeking their playing rights on the region’s premier Tour for the 2017 season.
Leong is coming into the week with a rich vein of form, having won five consecutive events on the domestic circuit while Green is looking for a return to competitive golf at the highest level after missing out on his playing rights in Europe by the slightest of margins last season. Lewton, who won his Asian Tour title at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters in 2014, is already bracing himself for a stressful week while Muniyappa is hoping to make up for lost time by regaining his status on the Asian Tour.
Interesting facts of the day:
- There are a total of 12 Asian Tour winners playing in the Final Stage this week. They are Udorn Duangdecha of Thailand, Ben Leong of Malaysia, David Gleeson of Australia, Marcus Both of Australia, Daniel Chopra of Sweden, Chris Rodgers of England, C. Muniyappa of India, Arnond Vongvanij of Thailand, Himmat Rai of India, Steve Lewton of England, Rick Kulacz Australia and Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand.
- Among the Asian Tour winners in the field Chawalit Plaphol has won the most times with four titles. Marcus Both and David Gleeson have won three while Daniel Chopra is a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR and Richard Green is a three-time European Tour winner.
- Daniel Chopra (2015), Ben Leong (2006 & 2007), Chris Rodgers (2006) and Yikeun Chang (2015) of Korea have all won Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage before.
- Interestingly, when Ben Leong won the Qualifying School in 2007, reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Scott Hend of Australia finished second.
- Thailand will have the most number of players in the Final Stage as a total of 38 players vie for playing rights on the Asian Tour season in 2017 followed by Korea (26), Australia (19), Japan (17) and India (16).
- The 2017 Asian Tour Qualifying School attracted over 500 entries where Tour hopefuls will vie for their playing rights on the region’s premier Tour.
- The Asian Tour Qualifying School comprised of two stages – the First Stage and Final Stage.
- The First stage, which included two sections, Section A and B, was played at the Windsor Park and Golf Club (Course A and B) and Suvarnabhumi Golf and Country Club (West and North courses) from December 28 to 31, 2016 and January 4 to 7, 2017.
- 85 players made the cut and progressed to the Final Stage which will be played at the Suvarnabhumi Golf and Country Club this week.
“I heard about the strategic alliance the Asian Tour has with the European Tour and that could be a way of getting back into Europe” – Richard Green.
Richard Green (Aus), Fourth round 63 (-9), Total -28 (260)
I guess the world has strange ways of repaying you for your misfortune. I’ve a lot to be thankful for. I started to work with a new coach in Australia and he has seriously helped me a lot in the last couple of weeks. I was really struggling towards the end of the year and the work we did sort of led up to this event. I really wanted to come here and play well and I’m glad I did that as I feel like my game is back to where it should be. It’s nice to have a season of golf ahead of me now. I’m busy again. At one stage towards the end of the year, just before the Australian Open when I got the news from the European Tour, I thought I would be out of job but now it looks like it’s going to be a busy year. I’m very happy with that.
Todd Sinnott (Aus) – Fourth round 62 (-10), Total -28 (260)
The main objective was to come here and get my Tour card. I achieved that and 28-under is my best score that I’ve ever shot in four rounds. There was a disappointing spin at the end of the play-off but it’s okay. I got my card and that’s all that matters I’ve only been to China and Korea before this week and it’s going to be a whole new experience for me, traveling around Asia and play in some of the bigger events here. Finishing second will obviously motivate me to try to get the big win now. I grew up at the same golf course, Kooringal golf club as Richard Green so he is always someone I look up to. I remembered him finishing fourth at the British Open and seeing him win the Australian Masters
Leading Scores after round 4 of the Qualifying School Final Stage being played at the par 72, 6965 Yards East and South course (am – denotes amateur):
260 – Richard GREEN (AUS) 66-63-68-63, Todd SINNOT (AUS) 64-65-69-62.
262 – Junya KAMESHIRO (JPN) 67-62-67-66.
263 – Ben LEONG (MAS) 65-66-67-65.
266 – Jake HIGGINBOTTOM (AUS) 68-69-66-63, Raththee SIRITHANAKUNSAK (THA) 67-68-65-66.
267 – Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA) 67-68-67-65.
268 – Dongmin LEE (KOR) 67-68-70-63, Brian JUNG (CAN) 71-65-66-66, ZHENG Ou-yang (CHN) 65-66-70-67, Sihwan KIM (USA) 69-67-65-67, Yikeun CHANG (KOR) 68-65-66-69.
270 – Sujjan SINGH (IND) 68-66-70-66, Youngjea BYUN (KOR) 65-67-70-68, Arjun PRASAD (am, IND) 66-67-69-68, Micah Lauren SHIN (USA) 65-68-69-68.
271 – Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA) 68-65-72-66, Teemu PUTKONEN (FIN) 65-67-68-71.
272 – Brett MUNSON (USA) 70-69-66-67, Jarin TODD (USA) 68-66-70-68, Sangpil YOON (KOR) 69-67-69-67, Chanwoo KIM (KOR) 65-69-71-67, William HARROLD (ENG) 65-70-69-68, Ryan MCCORMICK (USA) 67-66-69-70, Settee PRAKONGVECH (THA) 66-66-68-72, William CANNON (USA) 64-68-67-73.
273 – Peradol PANYATHANASEDH (THA) 69-68-68-68, Ekthumrong LUANGANURUK (THA) 72-66-65-70, Junsung KIM (KOR) 69-68-68-68, Steve LEWTON (ENG) 66-69-67-71, Chanachok DEJPIRATANAMONGKOL (THA) 67-63-71-72, Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 66-73-69-65.
274 – Chanat SAKULPOLPHAISAN (THA) 69-67-69-69, Marcus BOTH (AUS) 69-70-65-70, Daniel ZULUAGA (COL) 70-69-65-70, Minkyu HAN (KOR) 68-69-69-68.
About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), FENIX XCell (Official Apparel Supplier), Hilton Worldwide (Official Hotel Partner), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Sponsor), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official Business Publication Sponsor) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.
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