Rayong, Thailand, January 9: American Berry Henson hopes to secure an Asian Tour card at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage presented by Sports Authority of Thailand to revive his career after recovering from a wrist injury.
He will be amongst the 243 players vying to finish inside top-35 and ties in the five-round Final Stage, which will be held across two courses at the Rayong Green Valley Country Club and the St. Andrews 2000 in Rayong starting Wednesday.
The 39-year-old Henson, a one-time winner on the Asian Tour and the Asian Development Tour (ADT), was sidelined by a career-threatening wrist injury where he underwent two surgeries and stopped playing competitively since June, 2016.
Henson has recovered since and made a welcome return last December where he played the season-ending Boonchu Ruangkit Championship through an invitation on the ADT. He finished a credible tied-12th.
Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil, playing in his first Qualifying School this week, hopes to make up for lost time by regaining his status on the region’s premier Tour. He missed out on his Asian Tour card for the first time in 12 years after finishing 109th on the 2017 Order of Merit.
The Final Stage, which features players from over 30 different countries, will be played over five rounds (90 holes). All Final Stage entrants will play two rounds before the field is cut to the leading 140 players and ties, who will then play another two rounds.
After 72 holes, the field will be cut to the leading 70 players and ties who will then proceed to the fifth and final round held only at the Rayong Green Valley Country Club. At the conclusion of 90 holes, the top 35 players and ties will be ranked accordingly for the 2018 season.
Other notable players in the field include Thailand’s Namchok Tantipokhakul, Australian Kieran Pratt, Daniel Chopra of Sweden and Singaporean amateur Joshua Shou, who was part of the historic men’s team gold at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games.
Did you know?
- Berry Henson first played the Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2011. He won an Asian Development Tour (ADT) title and claimed an Asian Tour victory over a span of three weeks that year.
- Coincidentally, Henson met Dookang, who caddied for him at the 2011 Qualifying School, earlier this week. Dookang will be on Henson’s bag again this week.
- A wrist injury has curtailed Henson’s career, forcing him to stop playing since June 2016. He returned to competitive golf last month, where he played the ADT Boonchu Ruangkit Championship as a sponsor’s invite and finished tied-12th.
- The 39-year-old Henson underwent two wrist surgeries in the last 18 months but has since recovered.
- Chinnarat Phadungsil is a three-time winner on the Asian Tour. He won his first title when he was still an amateur at the 2005 Double A International Open, which was also held at the St. Andrews 2000, one of the two venues for the Qualifying School this week.
- His victory in 2005 also saw him become the record youngest player to win on Tour at the age of 17 years and five days.
- The 29-year-old Chinnarat is playing the Asian Tour Qualifying School for the first time since turning professional in 2005.
- Chinnarat lost his Asian Tour card for the first time in 12 years after finishing 109th on the 2017 Order of Merit.
- Singapore’s Joshua Shou is also aiming for a successful debut at the Asian Tour Qualifying School. He came through the first stage after finishing tied-23rd at the Rayong Green Valley Country Club last week.
- The 27-year-old Shou was part of the Singaporean team who beat Thailand in a sudden-death play-off to clinch the country’s first-ever men’s Team Gold at the SouthEast Asian Games in Malaysia last August.
- Shou is planning to turn professional after the 2018 SMBC Singapore Open next week. He is one of the four amateurs competing in the field this week.
“The Asian Tour is my home. I always have plans to come back and play here. I just have to get healthy and get my game back to come back here and compete. I love the Asian Tour and all the opportunities that’s out there.” – Berry Henson, 39
Berry Henson (Usa)
The last time I played the Qualifying School was in 2011. It’s good to be back here again. I am hoping for a good week this week to get me prepared for the year. I returned to competitive golf recently after being sidelined by a wrist injury for a year and a half.
This week will be my second tournament in about 18 months. My game is feeling good and I am feeling comfortable so I decided to be here. Dookang, the guy who caddied for me at the 2011 Qualifying School, happened to be here this week.
He caddied for his brother last week but his brother missed the cut so he decided to caddy for me again this week. That will be fun. It’s nice to see a familiar face this week. I remembered I played really well n the first round and shot a closing 66 to make the mark.
We enjoyed each other’s company and we will be catching up a lot this week. It’s going to be the same. It should be a fun week.
I have played both courses and they are good Q-school courses. It’s challenging and you can make mistakes if you’re not careful. The guy who can get comfortable with the course quickest will be the guy who will play well this week.
The Asian Tour is my home. I always have plans to come back and play here. I just have to get healthy, get my rehab done and get my game back to come back here and compete. I love the Asian Tour and all the opportunities that’s out there.
I had a tear on my right wrist from too much golf over the years. I went for my first surgery but had another ligament tear which forced me to go for a second surgery. That was a cleanout. I wasn’t sure if I was able to come back to play competitive golf after those two surgeries.
Luckily, my recovery has been fantastic. I am on medical exemption but only till June so I thought I come and try out at the Qualifying School this week to get my card as a backup. Once I make a certain amount, I should good for the rest of the year.
Chinnarat Phadungsil (Tha)
I am excited to come back to the St. Andrews 2000. I won my first Asian Tour title here 13 years ago. I have played here on the domestic Tour in between but I still feel good coming back here to play the Qualifying School.
I like playing at home so hopefully I play well this week and regain my card on the Asian Tour which has been my home Tour since I turned professional. My game is getting better. I have been practicing for the past three weeks. Hopefully I can play better this week.
This is my first time playing the Qualifying School. Since winning in 2005, I have managed to keep my card for 12 straight seasons. I missed out for the first time last year but it’s alright. I am excited to play the Qualifying School this week. There are a lot of good and young players here but I will try my best.
I have good memories of the St. Andrews 2000 course. During my practice round, I realized I actually remember the shots that I hit when I won the tournament in 2005. I won on the second play-off hole. I chipped it to about one feet and made the putt to win. It was very good memories which I still remember clearly.
Joshua Shou (A) (Sgp)
I am pretty excited to be here this week. This is my first time playing the Asian Tour Qualifying School. I am planning to turn professional after the Singapore Open next week. The first stage of the Qualifying School was pretty nerve-wrecking, especially the last two days. I was just trying to keep it together and thankfully I did.
I think the Asian Tour is growing and there are a lot of big events coming up. It is a great Tour to play especially for a rookie like me. The game’s shaping up pretty good for this week. I just want to play with no expectations and see what happens.
The two golf courses this week are very different. Rayong is not as hilly and the greens at St. Andrews are pretty tricky. I will see what I can do and see what happens. Winning the team gold medal for the SEA Games last year boosted my confidence and made me want to turn professional.
The amount of pressure I had to handle in the last match, even though I lost, gave me a lot of confidence and led me to the decision to turn professional. I have been told to play my own game and stay relaxed but it’s easier said than done. I know it comes with experience.
But having said that, even if I don’t make it this week, it’s still a good experience for me too.
About 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 Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.
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