Iwata takes pole at Open Qualifying Series

Thu 06 Mar 2014

Iwata takes pole at Open Qualifying Series

  • SHARE
Chonburi, Thailand, March 6: Japan’s Hiroshi Iwata edged closer to making his return to the world’s oldest Major after a first round four-under-par 68 saw him take his place atop the leaderboard at the Open Qualifying Series-Thailand on Thursday.
Thailand’s Prom Meesawat and Singapore’s Koh Dengshan also remained in the hunt for a place at The Open Championship when they posted matching 69s to share second place with Spain’s Carlos Pigem and Japan’s Akinori Tani at the 36-hole qualifying event which is held at the majestic Amata Spring Country Club.
The hotly contested two-day qualifier has brought together an international field of 75 players from 18 countries who are vying for one of the four places to The Open Championship which will be held at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake from July 17-20.
Iwata is clearly hoping to tee up against the world’s best players at The Open Championship again as it has been more than six years since he made his debut in 2008.
“It was such a great round of golf today. Everything worked to my advantage and I’m proud to be able to lead under such windy conditions today,” said Iwata.
He was inspired by his opening round efforts where he enjoyed a blemish-free round highlighted by four birdies on holes seven, 11, 13 and 17.  However the Japanese is cautious of getting ahead of himself.
“It’s far from over and anything can happen tomorrow. I’m going to try my best. I missed the cut when I played in The Open Championship in 2008. Hopefully I can make my return again this year and do better,” said Iwata.
Koh also had a day to remember for all the right reasons when he surpassed all expectations by signing for a 69 in what was only his first outing at the Amata Spring Country Club.
“This is my first time playing here and to be able to shoot a 69 is indeed very satisfying. I hit the ball well but it was my putting that really got me this good score,” said Koh.
With only 18 holes separating him from a historic debut at The Open Championship, the Singaporean is drawing inspiration from his fellow countrymen Mardan Mamat and Lam Chih Bing to keep his hopes alive.
“It would be a dream come true if I can get to play in a Major in this lifetime. I draw a lot of inspiration knowing that Mardan and Chih Bing have both played in The Open Championship and it would be something I’ll really cherish if I get a chance to do so,” said Koh.
Meanwhile Prom continued to ride on his rich vein of form by trading four birdies against a lone bogey to stay on track of making his second appearance at The Open Championship since 2011.
The one-time Asian Tour winner, who posted four top-10s including two runner-up finishes during the 2013 season, believes his mental strength will be vital as he challenges for one of the four tickets available to The Open Championship.
“When I decided to take part in this qualifier, I didn’t expect too much. This is a tough course and the best way to approach this qualifier is to adopt a relaxed attitude. I put too much pressure on myself in the past and that really backfired on me then,” said Prom.
Leading scores after round 1 of the The Open Championship 2014 being played at the par 72, 7454 Yards Amata Spring CC course (a- denotes amateur):
68 - Hiroshi IWATA (JPN).
69 - Carlos PIGEM (ESP), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Akinori TANI (JPN), KOH Deng Shan (SIN).
70 - Michael TRAN (VNM), Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA), LEE Sung (KOR), PAN Cheng-tsung (am, TPE), Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN), David LIPSKY (USA), Adam GROOM (AUS), Berry HENSON (USA), Yusaku MIYAZATO (JPN).
71 - Unho PARK (AUS), BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR), Rahil GANGJEE (IND), Mardan MAMAT (SIN), Anthony KANG (USA), Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA), Aaron TOWNSEND (AUS).
72 - WU Ashun (CHN), Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN), Wade ORMSBY (AUS), Prayad MARKSAENG (THA), James BOWEN (USA), Yoshinobu TSUKADA (JPN).
73 - Chiragh KUMAR (IND), Sam CYR (USA), Lionel WEBER (FRA), Jack MUNRO (AUS), Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA), Azuma YANO (JPN), Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN).
Selected scores
74 - Anirban LAHIRI (IND)
78 - Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN)
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), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Sponsor), Oakley (Official Eyewear and Footwear Sponsor), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Subway (Official Quick Service Restaurant) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf.