Hua Hin, Thailand, December 30: Austen Truslow of the United States topped the class when he signed off his marathon week with a closing six-under-par 65 to secure his Tour card at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage on Sunday.
Truslow was also the leading player to progress from the first stage last week and impressed many with his one-hand dexterity at chipping as he wrapped up his week with a five-day total of 24-under-par 331.
Gunn Charoenkul of Thailand
Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul also completed an unforgettable week at the Lakeview Resort and Golf Club as he carded the lowest score of the day with a 61 to finish in second place.
India’s Aadil Bebi, who was the youngest player to tee up in the Final Stage, showed his mental toughness by posting a 63 to end the week tied for ninth.
Despite learning about the loss of a close friend who was involved in a fatal traffic accident at the start of the week, the 17-year-old displayed maturity beyond his years by staying focused to earn his playing rights for the 2019 Asian Tour season.
Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana and China’s Jin Cheng will meanwhile give up their amateur status after emerging as the top-35 and ties players to earn their Tour cards after five rounds.
The pair will be hoping to carry forward their distinguished amateur record as they start their early professional careers on the Asian Tour.
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Austen Truslow (Usa) – Fifth round 65 (-6), total 331 (-24)
I’m not going to cry. For the past four years, I haven’t got on Tour before. My goal when I was 18 was to get on Tour by age 22 and the Asian Tour Qualifying School was the last time to do it. It’s been a good week. I finally have a place to play full time. I felt that my game is good enough once I get out there, but I haven’t done well in qualifying. Now that I have a card, I can loosen and show my consistency. I started chipping with one hand over a year ago. I didn’t chip great this week, but it was still a lot better than chipping with two hands. I don’t chip with one hand every single time, but 80 per cent of the time. I didn’t go out and win today. I just wanted a good round as it’ll give me my status on Tour. I finished well, and I kind of lucked into the win today.
Gunn Charoenkul (Tha) – Fifth round 61 (-10), total 332 (-23)
59 was playing on my mind today I’d have to admit! After nine holes, I got a little nervous. At the start of the round, I said to myself that it’ll be a bonus if I can get under par. I struck it well shot after shot and I felt that I couldn’t miss. After the turn, I got nervous and I got a little hiccup on 10th, where I hit it into the hazard but still managed to make par. I kept going and on 15th, I put it on the back of my head that I couldn’t do it (break 60). I’ll have to change my schedule after earning an Asian Tour card!
Aadil Bedi (Ind) – Fifth round 63 (-8), total 339 (-16)
I lost a dear friend on the first day, back home. It was tough mentally, but I managed to play well and I’m glad that it has all come together. I have that believe in myself and that I have the game to earn the card. Now that I’ve earned the card, there’s more purpose in my practice and I’ll be definitely looking forward to the tournaments that I get to play. It was difficult to focus at times. When there are long waits between holes, or between rounds at night, I think about my friend. But, it was a good week. I’ve played really solid in all parts of my game.
Sadom Kaewkanjana (a) (Tha) – Fifth round 65 (-6), total 340 (-15)
I’m very excited and happy to earn my card. I’m looking to turn professional after this event and in 2019, I hope to retain my playing rights for the next season. I won the Nomura Cup as part of the Thailand team, the first time in the history of Thai golf. In the SEA Games, I won team silver.
Jin Cheng (a) (Chn) – Fifth round 68 (-3), total 343 (-12)
I’m still maintaining my amateur status, at least until June. I don’t have anything much planned, as I have school until June and I’m looking to play the National Championship. Until then, we’ll see how it goes. I started the game when I was eight and I was influenced by my dad. I lived in Singapore during my secondary school years, and I got recruited by U.S. Colleges and now I’m at USC (University of Southern California), in my third year there. I will eventually turn professional, and the Asian Tour will be an ideal platform for me.
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About 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 Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), Habitat for Humanity (Official Sustainable Development Partner), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), Titleist and FootJoy (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.
Hua Hin, Thailand, December 29: Thailand’s Poom Pattaropong dream run continued as he signed for a six-under-par 65 to stand on the brink of securing his playing rights for the 2019 season at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage on Saturday.
The fourth round was also lit up by Thailand’s Naras Luangphetcharaporn, who was staring at another elimination from Qualifying School until his record-breaking 59 lifted him to a share of 36th place.
Despite going through a marathon week which saw 242 players at the start of the final stage vying to finish inside the top-35 and ties through five rounds, Poom was not feeling the effects of any fatigue. Instead, he is raring to get the job done as he leads the class with his four-day total of 20-under-par 264.
Zach Murray of Australia
Australia’s Zach Murray is also ready to add another feather to his cap in his fledgling professional career as he is among the leading 70 players and ties to have made it into the all-important ultimate round on Sunday.
The 21-year-old Australian only turned professional last month but is already showing an early potential of his prolific form which has led him to be ranked as high as 19th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul is closer to earning his card for the first time in five attempts at Qualifying School as he blazed his way around the Lakeview Resort and Golf Club with rounds of 69, 68, 67 and 67 to tie with China’s Xiao Bowen in seventh place.
Unheralded Veer Ahlawat of India is also ready to join his more illustrious compatriots on the Asian Tour after posting a 68 which saw him share 18th place with Korea’s Kisang Lee.
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Poom Pattaropong (Tha)- Fourth round 65 (-6), Total 264 (-20)
I just have to keep calm and continue to have fun. If I have to pick one thing solid about my game this week, it would have to be my putting. I’m feeling fine, not tired and the weather’s great. I just have been drinking a lot of water to stay hydrated. It would the world to me if I can get my Tour card as I did not expect to play this well at all. I didn’t have a goal and this is well beyond my expectations.
Zach Murray (Aus) – Fourth round 67 (-4), Total 199 (-14)
I never really thought about earning an Asian Tour card, to be honest. I was just trying to score as many birdies as I can. I’m playing well, and I’m going to get a good rest before the final round tomorrow.
Things can change in the blink of an eye in the professional game, so you just got to make the most of it while you can. I think my attitude towards golf at the moment is pretty relaxed. I’m enjoying my game and not thinking about too much else. I’m glad to be fit, healthy and playing golf.
Gunn Charoenkul (Tha) Fourth round 67 (-4), Total 271 (-13)
It has been a while coming back to play on the Asian Tour and I want to get back on Tour again. I went to a lot of qualifying schools this year including Japan and lots of Monday qualifiers. I sort of get the feel of the kind of emotions and attitude I should have when playing Q school now. I struggled a lot at Qualifying School on the Asian Tour. I’ve never made it into the top-35 before as I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself. I’ve learned how to manage myself better over the years. It was tough playing in China and Japan as there’s a lot of good players and every course is different. I got a few wins in China, but I didn’t concentrate on playing there the whole year. So, I didn’t get into the top-five. I’ve learnt I can improve myself a lot better mentally. I used to think I was not as good as the others out here and I didn’t perform to my full potential. But I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the years and hopefully, I can do it tomorrow.
Clyde Mondilla (Phi) Fourth round 68 (-3), Total 272 (-12)
It has been a very long week and I look forward to getting the job done tomorrow. I missed Christmas back home, but I guess these are the sacrifices you have to make if you want to become a successful professional golfer. My putting has been very sharp lately and hopefully I can get all the putts rolling into the hole tomorrow.
Veer Ahlawat (Ind) Fourth round 68 (-3), Total, 273 (-11)
I’m hitting it well and reading my putts right. I’m confident heading into the final round of Qualifying School. This is my third attempt at Qualifying School. I’ll be looking to apply my experience and hopefully, earn a Tour card for the upcoming season. I turned professional three years ago. I have a few second-placed finishes on the PGTI (Professional Golf Tour of India), as well as a good number of top-10s.
Naras Luangphetcharaporn (Tha) Fourth round 59 (-12), Total 276 (-8)
I am very happy, as it is the lowest score recorded in my life. More importantly, the 59 helped me progress to Sunday. I shot a 78 in round three and I thought I have no chance to make the cut. What worked for me today was my consistency. I managed to get the same tempo on every shot.
I started golf since I was 14. Now, I’m 25 and I’m turning 26 next month. I turned professional in 2014. I haven’t won any tournament yet and this is my second time at the Qualifying School. The last time in 2016, I didn’t progress to the Final Stage.
Hua Hin, Thailand, December 28: England’s Chris Rodgers is enjoying life at the moment, but his insatiable thirst for competition has led him back to Qualifying School, where he has a shot of earning a Tour card for the 2019 season.
By Chris Rodgers
It feels great to be back here on the Asian Tour!
I started playing here in 2002 and Asia has always been a big part of my life.
My fondest memory was winning the 2006 Qualifying School and then winning the Pakistan Open in the same month. Emerging victorious at any tournament on any Tour opens so many doors and earning an exemption was just fantastic. Right now, I’m focusing on earning a Tour card for next year.
Golf is in me since I was very small. Losing my Tour card in 2014 obviously hurt, as competing on the Asian Tour formed a big part of my life, and it was not there anymore.
The good thing was that I could move back to the United Kingdom, nearer to my parents. I also earned a university degree, built up a business and did things outside golf. Although, I still love and play golf.
Speaking of which, I played some good golf back in England and won quite a number of tournaments. I kept myself fit and played a lot.
My real estate business kept me busy, but I managed my time well, which allowed me to play more golf. In my opinion, real estate is the art of finding the property. After that, the rest is relatively easy.
I’ve also done some coaching and gym training with clients. Life is pretty good at the moment.
Although, I love to compete, I love to travel and I love to come out to Asia. It is a lovely place; the culture, weather and people. The Asian Tour has a warm family environment and I really enjoyed being here. I hope to play well over the next two days.
Hua Hin, Thailand, December 28: Australia’s Zach Murray edged closer to another dream start in his early professional career by carding a four-under-par 67 to head into the weekend rounds in prime position together with Thailand’s Poom Pattaropong at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage on Friday.
The 21-year-old Australian turned professional only last month and is already enjoying an early boost to his fledgeling career as he leads the field with his three-day total of 14-under-par 199 at the Lakeview Resort and Golf Club.
China’s Xiao Bowen, who was among the leading 140 players and ties to progress after the first two rounds, remained firmly in control of regaining his playing rights on the Asian Tour when he returned with a 66 to take fifth place.
Xiao Bowen of China
Having made to make the early exit at Qualifying School earlier this year, American Jeremy Wendelken will get another shot of securing his Tour card as he heads into the next round in a share of seventh place with his 203 total.
A further cut for the final round will be made after the fourth round where only the leading 70 players and ties will feature on Sunday.
At the conclusion of 90 holes, the leading 35 players and ties will be ranked accordingly for the 2019 season.
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Zach Murray (Aus) – Third round 67 (-4), Total 199 (-14)
I’m playing solid for the last three days. I came into this event with a pretty steady form, as I was playing well in Australia. I’ve got my best mate on my bag. We often joked around, and that made playing here quite stress-free. I got a bit tired towards the end of the day today and hit a couple of bad shots, but I got away with it. Everything is running smoothly at the moment. I only turned professional a month ago. I had a few good results this year. I got into the round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur Championship and two months ago, I won a professional event as an amateur – the Western Australia Open. I turned professional for the Australian Open. Earning a Tour card for the 2019 season will be fantastic. I’m pleased to be leading the event after three rounds. There are two more rounds to go, so let’s see how it goes. I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here.
Jeremy Wendelken (Usa) – Third round 70 (-1), Total 203 (-10)
I was solid from tee to green. My wedge play is very sharp right now. I qualified for the Final Stage after playing in Stage 1 last week. It’s mentally and physically tiring, but I have to keep going. I played in the ADT this year and I like it here, which was I’ve decided to stay here and try to earn a Tour card. I turned professional and moved down to Scottsdale, Arizona. I didn’t do too well in the United States. One of my college teammates, Jarin Todd, recommended me to come over here and give it a try. I made it to the Final Stage at the 2018 Qualifying School, but couldn’t progress to the final round. I’m in a decent position now, so I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing.
Xiao Bowen (Chn) – Third round 66 (-5), Total 201 (-12)
There are still two more rounds to go and anything can happen. I’m just trying to stay grounded and be patient. It will mean a lot to me if I can regain my Tour card on the Asian Tour. I have many good memories of the Tour and I’ve gained a lot of experience. I really want to go back and play on the Tour again and that’s why I’m very determined to do well this week. My putting has been very good today and hopefully, I will continue to putt well tomorrow.
Hua Hin, Thailand, December 27: After several years in the wildness and hitting rock bottom, Australia’s Rick Kulacz is slowly beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The two-time Asian Tour winner is among the 242 players who have made it through to the final stage of the Asian Tour Qualifying School this week.
In this heartfelt blog from Lakeview resort and Golf Club, Kulacz opens up his love for the game and trying to regain his self-belief all over again.
By Rick Kulacz
“Life has been very rocky off the course at times but I think I’ve found some sort of a game the last two years to come back to the course and compete again. Everything just sort of spiralled out of control.
You try harder and harder and you dig a bigger hole for yourself until you basically hit rock bottom. You either find different ways of trying to play the game again or you give it away. I kept at it and tried different things and see what works and what didn’t.
I’m here now and looking forward to the rest of the week. I took a couple of part-time jobs, like doing some green keeping at Royal Perth, just a couple of days per week and I worked with my brother at a factory nearby just to get away from the game.
For about six months. I was still practicing, just to see if I still wanted to play golf. I came to the realisation that I still wanted to play, so I gave up those jobs and got back into the game again.
There were times when I wanted to quit but I never quite got that far as I still wanted to play at the back of my mind. It was always something inside me that kept me going.
You got to make a lot of birdies at Q school and try not to make big mistakes. I played pretty well today, I didn’t have a bogey which helps. It’s still a long way, five rounds in this heat and I still got another three rounds to go. So let’s see how it goes.”
Hua Hin, Thailand, December 27: Thailand’s Poom Pattaropong topped the class by signing for a second round seven-under-par 64 to lead the field into the next round at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage on Thursday.
Sweden’s Christoffer Baumann along with Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang and Australia’s Zach Murray, who signed for matching 10-under-par 132 totals to be bunched in second place, are among the leading 140 players and ties who will continue their journey.
They will play another two more rounds before a further cut for the final round is made where only the leading 70 and ties players will feature on Sunday at the Lakeview Resort and Golf Club.
At the conclusion of 90 holes, the leading 35 players and ties will be ranked accordingly for the 2019 season.
Choo Tze Huang of Singapore
India’s Aman Raj and Korea’s Taewoo Kim together with Jeremy Wendelken and Austen Truslow of the United States will also continue their journey as they take fifth place with their 133 total.
Having missed out on his chance to secure his Asian Tour card earlier this year, Poom is relishing the opportunity of having another chance of doing so again this week.
The Thai believes his experience of playing on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) has prepared him well for the gruelling task ahead and is confident of rising to the occasion.
The second round of the Qualifying School saw two hole-in-ones being recorded on the par-three 16 where Baumann and Truslow enjoyed their moment of glory with their aces.
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Poom Pattaropong (Tha) Second 64 (-7) Total 131 (-11)
I missed out on securing my Tour card earlier this year and hopefully I can get the job done in my second attempt this week. I learnt a lot about myself after that play-off loss to Miguel Carballo. I learnt a lot from Miguel that week and that was my best finish for the year. I took up golf when I was seven when my dad took me out to the range. I went to school in Australia when I was 13 and then to high school and college in the US. I came back last year, turned pro and played on the ADT. My greatest strength has definitely been my short game and I hope to use that to my advantage this week.
Christoffer Baumann (Swe) Second round 68 (-3), Total 132 (-10)
It was almost the same as yesterday. I did not get off to a good start but then I played better in my back-nine. I was struggling a bit with my iron shots but that hole-in-one really lifted me. I three-putted on 15 but got that hole-in-one on 16 which was a big help for me today. I aimed straight at the pin and this is my third hole-in-one. Actually I also made one at Q school two years ago and it’s nice to make another one this week.
Aman Raj (Ind) Second round 64 (-7) Total 133 (-9)
I’ve been playing decent golf and have been trying to score well, which I managed to do today. I just want to go with the flow and take whatever comes my way. It has been one of the best seasons since I turned professional. I finished sixth on the PGTI and I won my first professional tournament in Jaipur and also finished second in Bangalore. So it has been going pretty okay and it would be wonderful to top it all with an Asian Tour card this week. I’ve got a few starts on the Asian Tour and I hope to take all those experience and make the best use of it. I played a lot of junior golf with Shubhankar and I was happy to hang out with him in Jakarta recently. He has been playing so well and it’s really motivating to see him do well and follow likewise.
Austen Truslow (Usa) Second round 66 (-5), Total 133 (-9)
It was my first hole-in-one in a tournament and it’s really exciting. I hope that is a sign of good things to come. I didn’t score as well as I could have today. It could have been a much better round. I got three more rounds to go and it’s all about sticking to my routine and as long as I can do that, I should be okay.
Jobim Carlos (Phi) Second round 66 (-8), Total 134 (-8)
I played the par-three well and my irons were good today. I could have played the par-five better but overall, I’m happy with my round. Topping the local order of merit has shown how consistent I can be with my game throughout the year. I see that as a huge confidence boost heading into this week and next year. I got my Asian Tour card as an amateur in 2016 but I didn’t have a good season that year. But it feels good to know that I have done it before and I can do it again.
Sean Kelly (Usa) 69 (-2), Total round 134 (-8)
I’m happy as my caddie and I plotted our way around the course very well. It has been a great experience and this is my first trip to Asia. There’s a lot of new things happening and I’m happy with what’s trending so far. A friend of mine actually convinced me to come over and I thought why not? I know John Catlin and I’m trying to follow what he’s doing and get out there and play well.
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.
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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.
Hua Hin, Thailand, December 25: Indian teenager Aadil Bedi is ready to make an early impact in his professional career as he prepares to earn his Tour card at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage which starts on Wednesday.
At 17, Bedi is the youngest player to be teeing up at the Lakeview Resort and Golf Club where he will be among the 242 players vying to finish inside the top-35 and ties in the five-round final stage.
The Indian, who turned professional in September, believes his youth will put him in good stead for life on the Asian Tour as he starts to make his transition from the amateur ranks to professional.
Bedi hopes to signal his arrival on the big stage with a performance he can be proud and pass this week’s gruelling test with flying colours.
Thailand’s Kosuke Hamamoto also harbours hopes of making the grade and join the growing legion of Thai greats.
Born to a Japanese father and Thai mother, Kosuke finished tied-11th at Queen’s Cup hosted by Jaidee Foundation earlier this month and believes that result has given him the much-needed confidence to excel this week.
Pakistan’s Hamza Amin, who came agonisingly close to regaining his Tour card in his last two occasions at Qualifying School, is determined to make amends and end his year on a high note by regaining his Tour card on Sunday.
Hamza first earned his Tour card through Qualifying School in 2014 but subsequently lost it when he ended that year in 165th place on the Order of Merit.
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Aadil Bedi (Ind)
It’s very exciting times for me. I’ve recently turned professional and things are moving along very fast for me. A lot of people told me before I turned pro that I’ll take some time before I’ll settle down in my professional ranks as the golf is different. But I don’t feel that way because at the end of the day, it’s golf and you just have to put the ball into the hole. It’s not about the money too as I’ve been playing since I was 14 and it’s all about my love for the game. I’m now feeling very comfortable playing with the pros and I’m looking forward to earning my card this week. I’ve been playing a lot of golf with Shubhankar (Sharma) and Viraj (Madappa). I’ve played junior and amateur golf with them and I’ve seen them grow into such great athletes. I’ve learnt a lot from them and they have been giving me lots of advice on how I can play well on the Asian Tour. I played the Take Solutions as an amateur and I got an insight into how wonderful the Asian Tour is and obviously, I would love to get my Tour card this week.
Kosuke Hamamoto (Tha)
I’m actually feeling quite nervous, to be honest as I’ve been thinking about this event for a long time now. I really want to get my card this week so that I can get some playing rights on the Asian Tour. My result at Queen’s Cup definitely gave me lots of confidence and it sort of gave me a reminder that I can play against the Asian Tour pros. There are so many good Thai players on the Asian Tour and hopefully I can follow their footsteps.
Hamza Amin (Pak)
I’m pretty excited about this week. There have been a few heartbreaks for me in the past and I’m really looking forward to playing and getting out there tomorrow. I remember being in second place with nine holes left to play but eventually missed the cut by one shot. And I remember the first time I was at Q school, I was right up there on the leaderboard but didn’t manage to get the card. So the emotions are always there and I guess I just have to go and grind it out again. I hope to inspire more people from my country to take up the sport and come out here to play in Asia.
The Asian Tour is at the coastal town of Hua Hin, Thailand for the Final Stage of the Qualifying School this week. As aspiring professionals from all over the world prepare for their final gruelling examination, we look back and find out why the Qualifying School has been the springboard to success for some of our past graduates.
Sentosa, Singapore, December 24: Young foreign golfers typically struggle when they venture to Asia in their first year. American Kurt Kitayama, on the other hand, proved that it is also possible to take the fast track to stardom.
Kitayama first entered the scene in January when he impressed at the Asian Tour Qualifying School with a tied-third finish to earn his Tour card on his very first attempt.
Spurred by his success from Qualifying School, the Japanese-American went on to secure one of three spots up for grabs when he topped the field by a single shot at the SMBC Singapore Open Qualifying Tournament the week after.
Riding high on confidence in his birth month, the 25-year-old Kitayama carried forward his form to the Asian Development Tour (ADT) where he put on a stunning display to claim a wire-to-wire victory in Malaysia.
That win was his very first since turning professional in 2015, and he quickly turned his focus back to the region’s premier Tour, hoping to ignite on the big stage.
“It has been a great year playing in Asia. It was tough at first because I wasn’t getting many starts, but I was fortunate enough to play well in the events that I did get into which helped me get into some bigger events later in the year,” said Kitayama, who enjoyed a commendable tied-fourth finish in his first start in New Zealand.
Residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, Kitayama who played two years on the Web.com Tour, admitted he experienced a slight culture shock when he took the leap to pursue more playing opportunities in Asia.
“When I first came to Asia, there was a little bit of a culture shock. Adjusting to that, and the different foods was a little bit of a struggle. I gained more experience along the way and now it has been easy to adapt to the new cultures,” said Kitayama.
Throughout his rookie year, the young American has displayed a steady rate of improvement where he did not miss a single cut in his first 11 starts, including three top-five finishes.
Soaking up the experience of playing amongst the best in Asia, he finally entered the winner’s circle in Mauritius before wrapping up an incredible season in South Africa.
It is a bonus that Kitayama, who’s only five feet, seven inches tall, topped the season statistics in the driving distance category with his booming average of 315 yards. There is no doubt that the big-hitting golfer is primed for the top echelons of the game with all his achievements this season.
“Having my maiden victory in my rookie year is great. I think it might be a little early to tell if it is a turning point but it was a huge step in my career and has opened up opportunities for the next two years.
“Asia has great players. Putting myself in contention throughout the year and competing with them played a big role in helping me make a breakthrough in Mauritius. I was able to learn from those experiences, get better, and win a tournament,” said Kitayama.
Underlining the success of Qualifying School graduates is fellow countryman John Catlin, who marked his name in the Asian Tour history books by becoming the 10th golfer in Tour history to win three times in a single season.
“Any time you can get into the winner’s circle it is going to be a good year. To do it multiple times is just amazing. If you told me at the start that I was going to win three times and end up in sixth place on the Habitat for Humanity Standings, I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Catlin, who first came through Qualifying School in 2015.
Stressing that the key to his success has been hard work, the 2018 Player’s Player of the Year recipient has inspired his peers with his dogged work ethic.
“For as long as I have been a professional golfer, I believe that the only confidence I’ve found when I step on to face these world-class golfers is knowing that I’ve hit these shots thousands of times. And that’s never going to change.
“I am very excited for next year. To be able to play in all the biggest events is going to be awesome. Winning a co-sanctioned event is my highest priority, and that’s my goal next year,” added Catlin.
Jakarta, December 16: Thailand’s Poom Saksansin showed why he is a class act when he fended off the challenges from his more illustrious rivals and fast-charging compatriots by closing with a four-under-par 68 to win the BNI Indonesian Masters presented by Bank Tabungan Negara (BTN), PT.Lautan Luas.Tbk and Bank Mandiri on Sunday.
Despite being ranked 239th in the world, Poom showed he would not be cowed into submission against two of the world’s highest ranked players Justin Rose (2) and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson (27) and a host of Asian Tour champions who had assembled at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club for the Asian Tour season-finale.
Like his first Indonesian Masters victory in 2016, Poom had his uncle, Pratya Ployprapai, on his bag again. Together, they forged another formidable partnership to win the last event on the Asian Tour by three shots with a four-day total of 20-under-par 268.
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, who started the day six shots back of Poom in third place, went on an amazing run by storming out in 32. He birdied 10 and eagled 12 to give himself a glimmer of hope of winning his third Asian Tour title.
However, two dropped shots on 15 and 17 put paid to all hopes. An eagle-three on his closing 18 brought the smiles back as it saw him end his Asian Tour season with seven top-10s and one victory.
Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat, who won his National open in June, claimed his third top-10 result of the season by finishing third with a bogey-free final round 66 at the US$750,000 event.
The charge by Stenson to deny Poom his day of glory did not materialise as the Swede could not find his putting touch on the day that matters most at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.
Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung, who has only made the cut once his five previous attempts at the Indonesian Masters, wrapped up his year in spectacular fashion by signing off with a 62 to finish tied for ninth.
Defending champion Justin Rose had to finish tied-16th or better to move back to world number one but posted a disappointing 75 to finish tied-17th.
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Poom Saksansin (Tha) – Final round 68 (-4), Total 268 (-20)
The course is very long for me. But I have won here before so I love coming back here. The greens are very nice this week and the course is in great conditions. I always enjoy coming back to Royale Jakarta and Indonesia.I really look up to Henrik (Stenson). I was really happy when I saw his name in the field this week. I was hoping to play with him in the first two rounds actually. I was very happy when I finally get to play with him in the final round.
I wasn’t even thinking about winning or losing. I was just thinking about playing alongside Henrik. I am very excited right now and I look forward to a better season next year. I can’t wait to come back and defend my title. I came into the week with no expectations. It depends on the conditions each day. Like on the second day, I putted very well for a 63 but today, I left some putts out there. I think the only thing me and Henrik spoke about today was ‘good luck’ on the first tee. That’s the only thing I can remember right now.
Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) – Final round 65 (-7), Total 271 (-17)
It was a very long putt for eagle on the last! I saw Panuphol in second place on the leaderboard coming down the 18th. I knew I couldn’t catch Poom already. I made some hiccups down the stretch but I kept myself in the grind. I told myself if I can make two putts for birdie, I will finish second on my own. I wasn’t thinking about anything else really. To eagle that hole was really a surprise. I haven’t had two eagles in one round in a while so I am very happy with that. Everything went well for me today. I just made some silly mistakes. But shooting seven-under, I can’t complain. After the first eagle on the 12th, I thought if I can make another birdie, I might have a chance to chase Poom down. But I dropped some shots there so I didn’t think I had a chance then. Poom played great this week. It’s hard to beat him in Indonesia. This is my first time playing alongside Stenson. We actually share the same coach – Pete Cowan. I spoke to him on the 18th coming up and told him I felt really happy to play with him and I have always looked up to him. And then he told me he actually saw the swing that I sent to my coach earlier this week. I spoke to him quite a bit out there but didn’t tell him that we have the same coach until the last hole. I think I should be back inside top-10 on the final Order of Merit. It has been a great season. I was hoping to get another win before the season ends but next year will be better!
Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha) – Final round 66 (-6), Total 273 (-15)
Playing with Justin Rose was the first great thing for me today. I played well. I made some putts and missed some but I’ll take it. I made a long putt for birdie on the third. I grinded it out today. I actually kept the ball nicely in play. It was a lot calmer out there today. Only the last hole, the wind started gusting. But overall, it has been a great week. I actually came out from an ankle injury. I had to get help from the Physio. It’s just too much golf. It’s much better now with the tapes and all.
Henrik Stenson (Swe) – Final 71 (-1), Total 274 (-14)
I didn’t bring much game today. I feel like I have been fighting a little bit with the long game today. It was certainly not good. I got a little frustrated with myself. I missed a lot of fairways and greens. That is normally not what we are doing. I have been putting good all week but unfortunately today I didn’t make the putts. I had a couple of really close calls. Bit like Justin yesterday I kept on shaving the edges. It was a bit of a grind to keep it together and to finish off with a respectable score because I was playing quite poorly. I needed a fast start today but Poom came fast out of the blocks with a couple of birdies. I was four behind and needed to get going but I certainly did not have the game to go out today and shoot six or seven under. A little disappointed with that but all in all a pretty decent week.
Nicholas Fung (Mas) – Final round 62 (-10), Total 280 (-8)
It’s great to end the season with a final round of 62. Obviously, I am very happy. I didn’t expect myself to shoot 62. I have been playing well recently. I played well in Japan earlier and I was feeling confident about my game coming to this week. All was good here except the third round. Conditions were just so tough yesterday. I am still very happy with my week overall. This is the lowest round that I have ever shot. I was trying to go to 61 though. This is my first time making the cut here in this tournament. It’s nice to cap a good result here. I am sure it will remain as a good memory for me. I hope to continue this good form into the 2019 season.
Leading scores after round 4 of the BNI Indonesian Masters being played at the par 72, 7361 Yards Royale Jakarta GC course (am – denotes amateur):
268 – Poom Saksansin (THA) 67-63-70-68.
271 – Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 68-69-69-65.
273 – Panuphol Pittayarat (THA) 71-66-70-66.
274 – Henrik Stenson (SWE) 67-68-68-71.
275 – Thitiphun Chuayprakong (THA) 67-70-74-64.
277 – Shiv Kapur (IND) 71-66-71-69.
279 – Sihwan Kim (USA) 69-69-70-71, Jakraphan Premsirigorn (THA) 68-65-74-72.
280 – Nicholas Fung (MAS) 69-71-78-62, Viraj Madappa (IND) 73-69-72-66, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 67-66-75-72.
281 – Shugo Imahira (JPN) 71-70-73-67, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 69-67-76-69, Sungho Lee (KOR) 66-71-74-70, Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 69-70-72-70, Jarin Todd (USA) 68-70-72-71.
282 – John Catlin (USA) 66-72-75-69, Steven Jeffress (AUS) 69-71-73-69, Justin Rose (ENG) 68-68-71-75.