Q-School Graduates Savour Successful 2012 Season

Sat 22 Dec 2012

Q-School Graduates Savour Successful 2012 Season

Kuala Lumpur, December 22: The 2012 Asian Tour Qualifying School proved to be the perfect springboard for 11 graduates who enjoyed a stellar year and was rewarded with full Tour cards for the upcoming 2013 season.

The 11 rookies passed their season-long test with flying colours and finished inside the top-61 of the Order of Merit.

Japan’s Masanori Kobayashi finished fourth on the Merit list with earnings of US$471,079 courtesy of a victory at the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open in Japan which also came with a two-year winner’s exemption. He was later named Rookie of the Year.

American David Lipsky, who won the Qualifying School in Hua Hin, Thailand, signalled his arrival in Asia by winning the HANDA FALDO Cambodian Classic with a superb birdie chip-in birdie on the first play-off hole to defeat Elmer Salvador of the Philippines.

He continued his fine run in Asia with four other top-five results to end the year in an impressive 11th position on the Order of Merit with winnings of US$286,922.

Highly rated Thai Arnond Vongvanij stood tall among the giants of the Asian Tour when he defeated 2012 Order of Merit champion Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat at the King’s Cup on home soil. He ended the year on a high note where he placed 18th on the Merit list.


Spanish stalwart Javi Colomo made the most of his travel to Asia as he missed only one cut in 18 Asian Tour tournaments. He posted four top-five finishes in his debut season, aided by his wife-cum-caddy Cristina.

The slender Kieran Pratt of Australia made amends for losing his Asian Tour card last year by finishing inside the top-40 of the Qualifying School earlier this season. He subsequently won the season-opening Zaykabar Myanmar Open, prevailing in a three-way off against Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and countryman Adam Blyth.

He ended the year in 37th position on the Order of Merit while compatriot Wade Ormsby finished two positions lower, thanks largely to two top-10 results at the Panasonic Open India and CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters.

Finnish players Kalle Samooja and Jaakko Makitalo were also among the top-61 on the Order of Merit finishing 47th and 48th respectively in their second Asian Tour season. Samooja failed to finish in the top-40 at Qualifying School but made the most of his limited appearance to earn his full card for next year, which will see him competing in the co-sanctioned tournaments with the European Tour.

Mithun Perera ensured Sri Lanka was among the 19 nationalities which featured inside the top-61 on the Order of Merit. The amiable player came agonizingly close to winning his first Asian Tour title at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic before settling for tied second place.

Perera missed out on an Asian Tour card earlier this year after finishing outside the top-40 at Qualifying School but battled bravely in limited Asian Tour events to put his name among some Asia’s leading lights as he placed 50th on the rankings.

Kim Gi-hwan, who was among five Koreans inside the safety zone, signed off in 55th position on the rankings after a relatively solid rookie season which included two top-10s at the ICTSI Philippine Open and HANDA FALDO Cambodian Classic.

Unho Park of Australia made one of the biggest moves on the Order of Merit following a tied 21st result at the season-ending Iskandar Johor Open. In 2011, Park lost his Asian Tour card for the first time since 2002 but regained his playing rights following a battling performance in Johor.

Over the years, the Qualifying School has unearthed many talented players and proven Asian Tour winners including Order of Merit winners Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and Noh Seung-yul of Korea.

It is no surprise that next year’s Qualifying School has surpassed the all-time record of over 650 entries. The four designated venues for Stage One, which will be played from January 9-12 and January 16-19 in Hua Hin, Thailand, reached their maximum entries while a fifth venue was opened up this week for 30 more players.


This means a grand total of 558 players will battle it out in Stage One to qualify for the all-important Final Stage, which is expected to receive a further 100-plus entries for those who are exempt from Stage One.


The Final Stage presented by Sports Authority of Thailand will be held at the Imperial Lakeview Golf Club and Springfield Royal Country Club in Hua Hin from January 23-26 where 40 Asian Tour cards will be at stake.