Thursday, 6 March 2014

IWATA LEADS AFTER ROUND ONE OF OPEN QUALIFYING EVENT IN THAILAND

IWATA LEADS AFTER ROUND ONE OF OPEN QUALIFYING EVENT IN THAILAND
6 March 2014, Chonburi, Thailand: Japan’s Hiroshi Iwata is one step closer to making his return to The Open Championship after a four-under-par 68 saw him take the first round lead at The Open Qualifying Series – Thailand event.  
The two-day 36-hole qualifier at Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi has brought together an international field of 75 players from 17 countries who are vying for one of four places at The Open which will be held at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake from 17-20 July.
Thailand’s Prom Meesawat and Singapore’s Koh Dengshan are also in position to qualify for The Open after posting three-under-par 69s to share second place with Spain’s Carlos Pigem and Japan’s Akinori Tani.
Iwata made his Major Championship debut at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and is looking to return to The Open to take on the world’s best players after a six-year absence.
“It’s every professional’s dream to play at The Open and I’m no different. 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,” he said.
Iwata delivered a blemish-free round on Thursday amidst blustery conditions, carding four birdies on the 7th, 11th, 13th and 15th holes.
“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,” said the 33-year-old.
Koh also had a day to remember by signing for a 69 in his first outing at Amata Spring. The Singaporean is drawing inspiration from fellow countrymen Mardan Mamat and Chih-Bing Lam to keep his Open 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 will really cherish if I get a chance to do so,” said Koh.
Mamat holed his tee shot at the par three 210-yard 13th hole using a five iron. The Asian Tour veteran has played in The Open Championship on three occasions and sits tied for 15th heading into Friday’s final round.
Home hope Meesawat carded four birdies against a single bogey to stay on course for his second Open appearance. The Hua Hin, Thailand native won the International Final Qualifying event at Amata Spring in 2011 to play in The Open at Royal St George’s.
“I think that the Thai players here this week will have an advantage since we are familiar with the course and the weather this week at Amata Spring. This qualifier creates a wonderful opportunity for Thai players that have the dream to play with world class golfers and represent Thailand at The Open,” said Meesawat.
Two former runners-up in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship are in the field this week: Taiwan’s Cheng-Tsung Pan and Japan’s Shohei Hasegawa. Pan finished runner-up at the 2012 championship at Amata Spring and his familiarity with the course helped him to a two-under-par 70 on Thursday, just two strokes off the lead. Hasegawa struggled with his putter to post a seven-over-par 79.
The four players that qualify for The Open this week will join Australians John Senden, Rhein Gibson and Bryden Macpherson who qualified at the Emirates Australian Open in November 2013. George Coetzee and Justin Walters of South Africa and Jin Jeong of South Korea secured the three places on offer at The Joburg Open in South Africa in February. 
For the second round draw and full hole-by-hole scores visit TheOpen.com.
Scores after Round 1 (A- denotes amateur):
68 (-4) - Hiroshi Iwata (JPN)
69 (-3) - Prom Meesawat (THA); Akinori Tani (JPN); Carlos Pigem (ESP); Dengshan Koh (SIN)
70 (-2) - Cheng-Tsung Pan (A) (TPE); Michael Tran (VNM); Arnond Vongvanij (THA); Adam Groom (AUS); Berry Henson (USA); Sung Man Lee (KOR); Daisuke Kataoka (JPN); David Lipsky (USA); Yusaku Miyazato (JPN)
71 (-1) - Aaron Townsend (AUS); Mardan Mamat (SIN); Jazz Janewattananond (THA); Anthony Kang (USA); Seukhyun Baek (KOR); Unho Park (AUS); Rahil Gangjee (IND)
72 (Par) - Masahiro Kawamura (JPN); Ashun Wu (CHN); Wade Ormsby (AUS); Prayad Marksaeng (THA); James Bowen (USA); Yoshinobu Tsukada (JPN)
73 (+1) - Masaru Takahashi (JPN); Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA); Lionel Weber (FRA); Samuel Cyr (USA); Azuma Yano (JPN); Chiragh Kumar (IND); Jack Munro (AUS)
74 (+2) - Satoshi Kodaira (JPN); Javier Colomo (ESP); Wenchong Liang (CHN); Terry Pilkadaris (AUS); Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA)
75 (+3) - Marcus Both (AUS); Sung-Yeol Kwon (KOR); Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA); Mu Hu (CHN); Thitiphun Chuayprakong (THA); George Gandranata (INA); Park Ju Hyuk (KOR); Namchok Tantipokhakul (THA); Sushi Ishigaki (JPN); David Lutterus (AUS); Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN)
76 (+4) - Grant Jackson (ENG); Scott Barr (AUS); Suttijet Kooratanapisan (THA); Malcolm Kokocinski (SWE); Carl Santos-Ocampo (PHI); Nathan Holman (AUS); Chan Kim (USA)
77 (+5) - Rory Hie (INA); Bio Kim (KOR); Kieran Pratt (AUS); Giwhan Kim (KOR); Chih-Bing Lam (SIN)
78 (+6) - SSP Chowrasia (IND); Tae Hoon Kim (KOR); Mohammad Siddikur Rahman (BAN); Quincy Quek (SIN)
79 (+7) - Mitsuhiko Hashizume (JPN); Himmat Rai (IND); Yuki Kono (JPN); Shohei Hasegawa (A) (JPN)
80 (+8) - Kodai Ichihara (JPN)

Open for betterment of Golf world over





MARKSAENG AND LAHIRI BID TO QUALIFY FOR THE OPEN IN THAILAND
4 March 2014, Chonburi, Thailand: Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng will lead the home players seeking to qualify for The Open Championship in this week’s Open Qualifying Series event at Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi.
Marksaeng and India’s Anirban Lahiri head an international field of 76 golfers who will play in the 36-hole qualifying event on Thursday, 6 March and Friday, 7 March with four places in The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake from 17-20 July, 2014 at stake.
The event is the third stop in the Open Qualifying Series and will give players from across the region the chance to play in golf’s oldest Major Championship. Competitors from 18 countries will be bidding to secure their place at The Open, including ten players from Thailand.
Marksaeng, an eight-time winner on the Asian Tour, is looking to make his sixth appearance at The Open in 2014. The reigning Thailand Open champion is one of the country’s most successful golfers but has yet to make the cut at The Open Championship.
His last Open appearance was at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 2012, and the Hua Hin native earned a place in the field after finishing second at the 2012 International Final Qualifying event at Amata Spring.
“I have been proud to play in The Open Championship in the past and I’m hoping I can repeat the success I had in qualifying at Amata Spring in 2012. The new Open Qualifying Series is a great opportunity for players from Thailand and the Asia-Pacific region to earn a place in the field at Royal Liverpool. I’m sure everyone will be competing hard for those four places,” said Marksaeng.
Another player expected to be a contender is India’s Anirban Lahiri, who made his Major Championship debut at The 2012 Open. It was a memorable outing, with Lahiri making a hole-in-one in the third round before finishing tied for 31st.
“Playing in The Open at Royal Lytham was one of the highlights of my career so far and I really enjoyed the challenge of links golf. The hole-in-one on the 9th hole capped it all as my dad was there to watch me. He was jumping up and down with excitement and that memory will stay with me forever. I would very much like to qualify once again and play at Royal Liverpool in July,” said Lahiri, who is a three-time winner on the Asian Tour and India’s highest-ranked professional golfer.
Liang Wen-Chong will look to make his return to The Open after becoming the first Chinese player to make the cut at a Major Championship when he finished tied for 64th at the 2008 Open at Royal Birkdale. Liang, who is a Working for Golf Ambassador for The R&A, has notched 19 career tournament wins.
Among the other players in the field with experience of The Open are Mardan Mamat, who has made three appearances in the Championship and was the first Singaporean to play at The Open in 1997, and China’s Ashun Wu, who made his Major Championship debut at Muirfield in 2013.
Established in 2005, Amata Spring Country Club is one of Thailand’s most prestigious golf facilities and has hosted numerous international tournaments including the 2013 Thailand Open in December that was won by Sergio Garcia. The par-3 17th is the Club’s signature hole, featuring the only floating green in Asia.
The four players that qualify for The Open this week will join Australians John Senden, Rhein Gibson and Bryden Macpherson who qualified at the Emirates Australian Open in November 2013. George Coetzee and Justin Walters of South Africa and Jin Jeong of South Korea secured the three places on offer at The Joburg Open in South Africa in February. 
Competitors will play a total of 36 holes on March 6 and 7 with the top four finishers earning places in the field at The 143rd Open Championship.
For more information, visit TheOpen.com
Ends.
Notes to editors:
The Open Qualifying Series replaces International Final Qualifying (IFQ) for The Open Championship which was introduced in 2004 and involved 36-hole qualifying events in Africa, Australasia, Asia, America, and Europe.  Amata Spring Country Club hosted the Asia events in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
The Open Qualifying Series (OQS) will offer the following qualification places in The Open Championship:
Open Qualifying SeriesEventNo of placesDetail
OQS-AustraliaThe Emirates Australian Open3three places to the leading three players (not otherwise exempt) who finish in the top 10 and ties
OQS-South AfricaThe Joburg Open3three places to the leading three players (not otherwise exempt) who finish in the top 10 and ties
 
OQS-ThailandThe Open Qualifying Series - Thailand4four places to the leading four players
OQS-JapanThe Mizuno Open4four places to the leading four players (not otherwise exempt) who finish in the top 12 and ties
OQS-IrelandThe Irish Open3three places to the leading three players (not otherwise exempt) who finish in the top 10 and ties
 
OQS-FranceAlstom Open de France3three places to the leading three players (not otherwise exempt) who finish in the top 10 and ties
OQS-ScotlandAberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open3three places to the leading three players (not otherwise exempt) who finish in the top 10 and ties
OQS-USAAT&T National4four places to the leading four players (not otherwise exempt) who finish in the top 12 and ties
OQS-USAThe Greenbrier Classic4four places to the leading four players (not otherwise exempt) who finish in the top 12 and ties
OQS-USAJohn Deere Classic1*one place to the leading player (not otherwise exempt) who finishes in the top five and ties
OQS-Final QualifyingGailes Links
Hillside
Royal Cinque Ports
Woburn
12Three places available at each event
*There is one place in the John Deere Classic due to the logistics of qualifiers travelling to play in The Open at short notice.
NB: Any player who has qualified through The Open Qualifying Series is deemed an exempt player. In the event that that player subsequently fulfils other exemption categories those places in the starting field will be subject to Section G of The Open Championship Entry Form (i.e. these places will be made available to the highest ranked players on OWGR after the close of entries).
Final Qualifying:
Final Qualifying for The Open Championship has also changed in 2014. Final Qualifying will continue to offer three places at each of four events in the UK, but for the first time will be played at four venues covering Scotland and the North-west, Central and South-coast regions of England. Taking place at Gailes Links in Ayrshire, Hillside Golf Club in Southport, Woburn Golf Club near Milton Keynes and Royal Cinque Ports in Kent, these events will provide a more accessible route into The Open for competitors qualifying from the 13 Regional Qualifying events around the country.
The Open Championship:
The 143rd Open Championship will be played at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake from 17-20 July, 2014.
The Open Championship is golf’s oldest Major. Played since 1860 on British links golf courses, it is the game’s most international Major Championship with qualifying events on every continent. For one week each year, the pursuit of the famous Claret Jug trophy is the focus of the sporting world, followed globally by millions of fans.
Organised by The R&A, The Open delivers an annual economic benefit of up to £100 million to its host region, while the Championship’s commercial success supports the development of the game, worldwide.