Arnond Aims for Open Championship Debut

Wed 27 Feb 2013

Arnond Aims for Open Championship Debut

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Chonburi, Thailand, February 27: Thai rising star Arnond Vongvanij is eager to join countryman Thaworn Wiratchant and Thongchai Jaidee at the 2013 Open Championship in July as he aims to claim one of the four tickets available at the International Final Qualifying – Asia starting Thursday.
The pint-sized Arnond missed out by one shot to join in the play-off for the final berth last year and hopes to make amends in the two-day qualifying played at the immaculate Amata Spring Country Club, which is also his home course.
Among other hopefuls vying to play in the year’s third Major at Muirfield from July 18 to 21 include Indians Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri, who won last year’s qualifier, Prom Meesawat and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, Siddikur of Bangladesh and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines.
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Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang, winner of the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at the Amata Spring, will also feature in the qualifier with Wu Ashun and compatriot Hu Mu.
Masanori Kobayashi, who finished fourth on the 2012 Asian Tour Order of Merit, is part of a strong Japanese contingent which include two-time Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion, Hideki Matsuyama, who became the first Japanese amateur to play in the Masters Tournament in 2011, Kodai Ichihara, who qualified for the IFQ-Asia last year and Yuta Ikeda, who last played in The Open in 2011.
Thaworn qualified for The Open Championship courtesy of winning the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2012 while Thongchai Jaidee qualified by finishing in the top 30 in last year’s Race to Dubai.
Arnond’s career has been on the rise since joining the Asian Tour last year. In his rookie season, he claimed four top-10s including one win at the King’s Cup on home soil. He hopes to add a Major appearance to his fledging career but is wary of the strong challengers in the 78-man field.
“It is always exciting to get the chance to qualify for the Open Championship. I’m going to go in the qualifier with a thought that I got nothing to lose. I’m going to try and play well and have fun,” said the 24-year-old.
“It would be an honour to play in The Open Championship because it is the oldest Major Championship in the world. The qualifier is only two rounds so that makes things a lot harder than a four-round tournament,” said Arnond.
Siddikur is the man of many firsts. He was the first player from his country to play and win on the Asian Tour and he is now eyeing to be the first Bangladeshi to roam the fairways at The Open Championship.
“If I do qualify, the popularity of golf in Bangladesh will go to an even higher standard. The Amata Spring course is quite long but I’ve shot a low number there before. I’m quite confident of making it this time,” said Siddikur.
Lahiri is determined to make a swift return to the Open Championship after making his debut last season where he finished tied 31st highlighted by a third round ace.
“I think it was a breakthrough debut for me to finish as the top Asian in the Open Championship last year. Playing with the best in the game and finishing ahead of a lot of big names gave me tremendous confidence in my ability. I also gained valuable experience of playing in severe conditions on links golf courses, something that’s not common in Asia,” said the Indian.
Filipino Tabuena, 18, hopes to make a successful debut at the IFQ-Asia, where he is among a talented young cast of hopefuls vying to etch their names among the stars of golf.
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“I know it is not a course for me because it is long but anything can happen. How would an 18 year old feel if I qualify? It would mean the world to me because it will be my first Major,” said Tabuena.
Having qualified for the Masters Tournament in April, Chinese prodigy Guan is eyeing for a second Major appearance in his budding career.
“I have played at some professional golf tournaments before and it is always great to play with the professional golfers. I can learn so much from them and the experience of playing at the professional events. So I am looking forward to the IFQ-Asia,” said Guan.
He gained worldwide coverage when he won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last year to become the youngest player to play in the Masters Tournament. Despite the limelight, his feet remain firmly grounded.
“I still live a normal life - go to school, practice golf and spend time with family and friends. But of course, more and more people know me and lots of media are interested in me. I am grateful for all the changes. With the increasing attention and support, I am getting more confident with myself as well as accomplishing my dream in future one day,” said Guan.
Further information:
The R&A - Communications
+44 (0) 1334 460000
media@randa.org
Doyle Decosta, Media Officer, the Asian Tour
+012 699 1976
doyle.decosta@asiantour.com
About the Asian Tour
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