OWGR Watch: Post New Zealand Open

Tue 05 Mar 2019

OWGR Watch: Post New Zealand Open

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By Olle Nordberg

With lucrative events such as WGC’s, Majors and the Players Championship looming, the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) becomes all important. Here we follow the Asian Tour players that are making a charge up the rankings and their quest to play their way into these events via the OWGR.

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, currently ranked number 38 on the OWGR, will already be eligible for all the above events.

Last week’s OWGR counting events, the co-sanctioned 100th New Zealand Open on the Asian Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia, Oman Open (European Tour) and Honda Classic (PGA Tour) saw a few of our members make important moves up the ranking list.

  • Kurt Kitayama- With a clutch finish in Oman birdieing the 16th and 17th holes to win by one shot, having overcome a quadruple bogey, bogey, bogey start in round three, Kitayama moves up to number 105 on the OWGR. Having made huge strides in the last 15 months to move up from 1187th position at the start of the 2018 Asian Tour season, he’s now within striking distance on the top 100 which should be enough for a special exemption into the US PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in New York from May 16 to 19.

He is scheduled to play next week’s Qatar Masters on the European Tour, and a top finish there could also put him in contention for the top-64 on the OWGR at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (as of March 18). Last year’s edition of the tournament saw the entry list drop down to number 70 because of some players choosing not to enter the event.

  • Jazz Janewattananond- We have gotten used to Jazz playing great golf the last few months, and last week in Queenstown did not disappoint. In tied-12th place after three rounds, Jazz fired an eight-under-par 64 in the last round that included two eagles and one birdie in his last six holes. A tied-fourth finish meant gaining three spots on the OWGR to move to a career high of 75.

Jazz is not scheduled to play again until the Maybank Championship after the deadline of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, so he will need to rely on other players not entering to get into that event.

  • Justin Harding- Uncharacteristically missing the cut in the difficult sand-storm plagued Oman Open saw Harding lose a few spots on the OWGR from 71 to 74. He is scheduled to play the next two weeks European Tour events in Qatar and Kenya, so he will have a chance to improve on his ranking before the deadline. A high finish in either of the next two weeks events could see him secure a spot in Austin.

For the three players above, the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia held from April 11 to 14 is still within reach, although it might be a much tougher task. Being inside the top-50 on the OWGR as of March 31st would land them with an invitation to Augusta and follow in Shubhankar Sharma’s footsteps from last year following his win at the Maybank Championship.