With lucrative events such as World Golf Championships (WGC) and Majors looming, the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) becomes all important. Here we follow the Asian Tour players that are making a charge up the rankings and their quest to play their way into these events via the OWGR.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat fired a final round seven-under-par 64 to finish tied-fifth at the AT&T Byron Nelson on the PGA TOUR to gain two places in the rankings and move to number 41 from 43 on the OWGR. Kiradech is already eligible for all the above events.
By Olle Nordberg, Former Asian Tour and European Tour professional.
Last week’s Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup in Chiba prefecture, Japan proved to be a very tough scoring week, with only five players finishing the week in red figures. In the end it was Japan’s Yosuke Asaji who came out tops, holding off the challenge from Micah Lauren Shin and local amateur Ren Yonezawa to win by one shot with his winning total of three-under-par 281.
It was Asaji’s first win on Tour and the 15 OWGR points collected means he rises to number 301 from 637 in last week’s rankings.
Joint runner-up Shin had his best finish since winning the Resorts World Manila Masters in 2017 and climbs to number 362 from 552 the previous week. Also, most importantly locking up his 2020 Asian Tour playing rights by picking up US$147,187 in the process.
Of the players in position to gain access to the upcoming Majors via the OWGR, Justin Harding, Jazz Janewattananond, Shaun Norris, Kurt Kitayama and David Lipsky all received Special Invitations for this week’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in New York.
Playing in the AT&T Byron Nelson Harding again produced some of the Sunday magic he has become known for- shooting a final round six-under-par 65 to finish tied-10th. Harding’s first top-10 on the PGA TOUR gains him three spots in the rankings to 42 from 45, and he should now have secured an exemption to the US Open Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links June 13 to 16.
The qualifying criteria for this is to be inside the top-60 on the OWGR by either May 20 or June 10, the two cut-off dates available.
Being a top-50 OWGR player comes with a lot of perks. Harding will get an exemption into next week’s Charles Schwab Challenge in Ft. Worth, Texas, and if he can remain in the top-50 at the conclusion of the PGA Championship, he will also qualify for the following week’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.
Jazz did not play in Japan and slides two spots in the rankings to number 72 from 70 last week after taking the week off to prepare for this week’s PGA Championship
This week in New York will be very important if Jazz is going to play his way into the US Open via the OWGR with the high number of points on offer. A top-10 finish could be enough to vault Jazz inside the mark for the first cut-off date.
Currently ranked number 99 on the OWGR thanks to a very strong 2018 season that included a win in the Heiwa PGM Championship on the Japan Tour, and 11 other top 10s around the world.
This week will be Norris’s first start in a Major on US soil, having played The Open Championship twice in 2017 and 2018 finishing tied-62nd and tied-61st respectively.
By not playing last week to get ready for the PGA Championship, Kitayama drops two places on the list from 108 to 110. This will be the first career Major Championship appearance by the winner of the 2018 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open and the 2019 Oman Open.
This will be Lipsky’s third Major Championship start, having played in The Open Championship twice in 2015 and 2017. He did not play last week and lost a few spots in the OWGR, sliding to 118 from 115 the previous week. Lipsky has been playing very good golf since his win at the Alfred Dunhill Championship last December, with two recent top-five’s and a tied-10th in the WGC-Mexico Championship earlier in February.