Kosuke passes opening test at Asian Tour Qualifying School

Wed 26 Dec 2018

Kosuke passes opening test at Asian Tour Qualifying School

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Hua Hin, Thailand, December 26: Thai-Japanese Kosuke Hamamoto overcame his early nerves by signing for an opening seven-under-par 64 to enjoy a flying start at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage on Wednesday. 

The 19-year-old traded eight birdies against one bogey to take his place atop the leaderboard together with six other players that include compatriot Kwanchai Tannin, China’s Xiao Bowen, Sweden’s Christoffer Baumann, Korea’s Taewoo Kim, Jaewoong Eom and Japan’s Daisuke Yasumoto.

Born to a Japanese father and Thai mother, Kosuke was feeling the pressure of earning his Asian Tour card ahead of his Qualifying School campaign this week. But after hitting his first tee shot on the back-nine 10, he managed to stay composed and was duly rewarded with a birdie on the next hole.

Hamamoto’s only blemish came on the 14th hole when he three-putted for a bogey-four. He turned in 33 before completing a flawless inward-nine with five birdies for a 64.

Xiao is meanwhile hoping to make his quick return to the Asian Tour having missed out on his card when he finished in 113th place on the Habitat for Humanity Standings. The Chinese claimed his stunning breakthrough on home soil at the Asian Golf Championship last year but found little success this season, having missed the cut in 14 of his 22 starts.

Baumann is determined to make his fifth trip to Qualifying School a successful one having missed out on securing his Tour card in his last four attempts while Choo, who first earned his Tour card in 2013 when he finished tied-31st, is optimistic of turning his season around by regaining his card this week.

American Austen Truslow, who counts playing on the Asian Tour as his number one goal, set himself well for the next four rounds after returning with a 67 at the Lakeview Resort and Golf Club.

After making his safe passage from the first stage, Truslow will be hoping to be one of the leading 140 players and ties to progress again after tomorrow’s round.

The field will be cut to the leading 70 players and ties after 72 holes who will then play the final round. At the conclusion of 90 holes, the leading 35 players (+ ties) will be ranked accordingly for the 2019 season.

Did you know?

  • Kosuke Hamamoto started playing golf at the age of eight. He is a former Thai Amateur star, South East Asia (SEA) Games individual gold medallist and was part of the first Thai team to win the Nomura Cup in Malaysia in 2017.
  • He was also part of Team Thailand that finished second in the Team event at the SEA Games last year.
  • Christoffer Baumann picked up golf when he was 16. His father owns a restaurant at a golf course in Sweden. He borrowed golf clubs and balls from the pro shop while his father was at work and started to develop a keen interest in the sport.
  • Baumann has entered the Asian Tour Qualifying School four times. He has never finished inside the top-35 and ties in all four attempts.
  • Out of five Asian Tour events that he has played in 2018, Baumann has only made the cut only once, at the 2018 UMA CNS Open Golf Championship.
  • Xiao Bowen is the third Chinese golfer to win on the Asian Tour after Zhang Lian-wei and Liang Wen-chong.
  • He won the Asian Golf Championship in 2017 after beating Australian Bryden Macpherson on the second playoff hole.
  • Hailing from Shandong, Xiao, a self-taught golfer, found himself teaching golf in Beijing at the age of 20 in 2010. He turned professional in 2012.
  • Choo enjoyed a glittering amateur career before turning professional in 2011. He won medals at the SEA Games, as well as team and individual titles at the prestigious Putra Cup.
  • Choo Tze Huang last played in Qualifying School in 2017, when he finished tied-53rd.
  • Choo has one top-10 on the Asian Tour to his name. He was tied-sixth at the 2014 Queen’s Cup.
  • He also has seven top-10s on the Asian Development Tour.
  • The Singaporean notched his first professional win at the 2012 SPGA President’s Cup, a tournament on his local circuit.
  • He finished 119th on the 2018 Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings.
  • The highest he has ever finished on the Asian Tour Order of Merit was 99th, in 2014.
  • Under the influence of his father, Austen Truslow got interested in golf when he was four and he lives in Florida.

 

Players’ Quotes

Kosuke Hamamoto (Tha) First round 64 (-7)

It was a really solid and stress free round for me today. I played really well from tee to green. I three-putted 14 but apart from that, everything was great. I did not really do anything wrong. I settled down after hitting my first tee shot. I was really in the zone today and I hope to keep my focus for the next four rounds as it’s going to be a marathon week. It’s not a sprint and it’s a five-day tournament. I’m trying to stay in the present as far as possible and focus on my own process. I spent three and a half years with the national team and played in some pretty big events, which probably gave me some advantage as there’s always pressure in big tournaments like that. It has calmed me down a lot this week.

Christoffer Baumann (Swe) First round 64 (-7)

I actually started quite bad as I was one-over after eight holes but I steadied myself and I told myself there would be birdie opportunities in my back-nine. I came back nicely with eight birdies in my last 10 holes. So it feels really good. I’m going to take it easy as it’s going to be a long week and there’s going to be a lot of golf. I came close to earning my Tour card on several occasions and obviously I hope to make it this year. I turned pro when I was 24 and one of the highlights in my professional was winning the Swedish championship. I like food, people and the weather in Asia. It’s hot and you don’t have to worry about bringing a sweater whenever you go.

Xiao Bowen (Chn) First round 64 (-7)

I’m disappointed at missing out on my Tour card this season. But I cannot really dwell on it too much and coming to Qualifying School will hopefully give me another chance to play my way back to the Asian Tour. It has been a steep learning curve for me since I won my first Asian Tour title last year. Hopefully I can get the chance to continue playing regularly on the Tour and become better. It was a good round and I cannot ask for more. There are still four days to go and I must be patient.

Choo Tze-huang (Sgp) First round 65 (-6)

It’s good to get off to a good start as it gave myself a little bit of cushion. But I’m not thinking too far ahead as there are still four more days to go. We got a bit lucky today. It was not that windy so it was a little easier for us. But it’ll be challenging when the wind picks up. Having an Asian Tour card gives you the playing rights and you have somewhere to play. It’s really important to us as professionals as that’s our rice bowl. We’ll have a schedule to play and that will be something we can work towards and achieve. I got off to a good start at the Singapore Open this year and finished tied-16th there. But it has been up and down. I decided I have to make some changes to the swing to get better in my game as I’ve been stagnant and erratic for a while. I’m starting to see some results.

Austen Truslow (Usa) First round 67 (-4)

I could have gone even lower as I missed a lot of short putts. But I’m happy with what I shot. I’m just going to take one day at a time and stay in the present. I stayed patient today and I’m going to continue doing so. I could have got a little frustrated in the beginning but I decided not to. My number one goal is to play on the Asian Tour. I got off to a good start during the first stage and hopefully I can continue doing so. I’m 22, I’m single, I don’t have kids and I can travel. I’ve got family in the Philippines and in Singapore and I know it’ll be a great opportunity if I can play on the Asian Tour. I turned pro three years and I hope to make my breakthrough there. I’ve seen the success of several Americans on the Asian Tour and how the Tour has jump start their careers and given them the opportunities that maybe they didn’t have back in the States. I hope I can be like one of them one day.

Ends.