Donlaphatchai Seizes the Day

Wed 23 Jan 2013

Donlaphatchai Seizes the Day

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Hua Hin, Thailand, January 23: Thailand’s Donlaphatchai Niyomchon is excited with the prospect of playing alongside his idol, Thaworn Wiratchant on a regular basis after he set the early pace with an opening seven-under-par 64 at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage presented by Sports Authority of Thailand on Wednesday.
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Compatriot Sattaya Supupramai carded a 65 to stay one shot back in tied-second alongside Canada’s Richard Lee, Australia’s Anthony Choat and Sweden’s Thomas Petersson.
China’s Hu Mu and Indonesia’s Benny Kasiadi are among the nine players bunched in equal sixth place after they signed for matching five-under-pars.
The first two rounds of the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage are staged at the Imperial Lakeview Golf Club and Springfield Royal Country Club where the course is played at par-72 and par-71 respectively.
Donlaphatchai hogged the opening limelight when he marked his card with seven birdies, an eagle and two bogeys.
The 22-year, who joined the play-for-pay ranks last year, believes he is ready to compete against the region’s best players and is looking forward to play more often with Thaworn, a 15-time Asian Tour winner.
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“Thaworn is my hero and I always look up to him for what he has achieved not only for himself but for Thailand. He has done everyone proud and I hope that I’ll get the opportunity to play with him on the Asian Tour once I earn my Tour card,” said Donlaphatchai.
Sattaya also got off to the best of starts when he opened with four birdies starting from his par-four 10th.
The Thai parred holes 14, 15 and 16 before continuing his birdie blitz on the 17th and 18th holes to turn in 30.
Sattaya seemed poised for a grandstand finish when he birdied four of his five holes after the turn but was pegged back after dropping four shots in his last three holes.
“I was unlucky on the last three holes probably because of the bad lie where I made double-bogeys,” said Sattaya.
Sattaya, who often relied on his country exemption status for playing opportunities on the Asian Tour, is now yearning for full playing rights following his opening round exploits.
“Earning my Tour card would mean a lot as that will give me a lot of opportunities to play on the Asian Tour,” said Sattaya.
Having played four events on the Asian Tour last year, Hu is looking forward to extend his playing opportunities this season.
The Chinese is also determined to secure his full status so that he can earn those crucial world ranking points that are vital for Olympic qualification.
“I like the environment on the Asian Tour, especially where all the players try to get better and really work on their game. There’re also a lot of world ranking points to be played out here,” said Hu.
“I was coming into the tournament trying to get inside the top-40 and get my status. But with my good start today, I’m hoping to build on that and win,” added the Chinese.
A bronze medallist at the 2007 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Thailand, Benny is eager to reproduce his good amateur form now that he has progressed to the professional ranks.
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The Indonesian turned in 33 after carding three birdies on holes 11, 15 and 16 in his opening back-nine.
He dropped his only shot of the day on the par-four second but made up grounds by marking his card with another three birdies on holes three, eight and nine.
“It was an amazing day as I managed to keep my focus throughout the day and my putting and driving were all excellent,” said Benny.
“I’ve always wanted to play on the Asian Tour and I hope that I can make it by earning my Tour card this week,” said Benny, who hails from a golfing family where his father was the only local player to have won the Indonesia Open, an event which will be featured on the 2013 Asian Tour schedule.
The cut will be made after 36 holes with the top 100 and ties progressing to the final two rounds at the Springfield Royal Country Club. Following that, only the top-40 and ties will earn playing privileges for the 2013 Asian Tour season.
Players who play in the Qualifying School are also eligible to play in the Asian Development Tour (ADT) which will be afforded with Official World Golf Ranking points starting this season.
Ends.
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 Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.