Sentosa, Singapore: A total of 14 Asian Tour members are currently on track to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with less than two months remaining in the qualifying race.
Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman, who finished second in the tri-sanctioned AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Sunday, returned into the top-60 bracket in 54th position following a welcome return to form.
Malaysia’s Gavin Green also moved back into the final and 60th position on the qualifying list to play in Rio in August following his joint runner-up finish on the Asian Development Tour on home soil last week. Players will have until July 11 to jostle for tickets to Rio to celebrate golf’s return into the Olympic Games after a lapse of over 100 years.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat heads the list of Asian Tour members in the reckoning for Rio where he is ranked 19th on the men’s list, followed by Korea’s K.T. Kim in 20th position.
Other Asian Tour members in the top-60 include Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand (23rd), India’s Anirban Lahiri (24th), Australia’s Marcus Fraser (31st), Filipino Miguel Tabuena (37th), S.S.P. Chawrasia of India (42nd), China’s Liang Wen-chong (45th), Malaysian Danny Chia (47th), Filipino Angelo Que (52nd), Adilson da Silva of Brazil (53rd) and Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei (59th).
In total, 16 Asian golfers are poised to represent their nations and continent at the world’s greatest sporting spectacle including Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Byeonghun An of Korea, China’s Li Hao-tong and Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Tsu-pang.
Korea’s Soomin Lee and Jeunghun Wang, who have won tournaments over the past few weeks and are ranked in the top-five of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, are amongst those pushing hard for tickets to Rio.
One man who breathed a sigh of relief was Siddikur. Despite losing to Wang in Mauritius where he led by three shots with three holes remaining, the Bangladeshi trailblazer was happy that his Olympic dream was reignited with a strong showing.
“This is a good boost for me on my world ranking. Hopefully I can get back in the running for the Olympics. I will take the positives from here. I am looking forward to the rest of the season and hopefully I can cap a good year,” he said.
Wang, who became the youngest player at the age of 20 years and 263 days in European Tour history to win back-to-back victories on Sunday, needs to surpass Kim or An in the world ranking to have a chance of representing Korea.
“Of course I would love to make the Olympics. It’s crazy because I wasn’t even thinking about it until last weekend. It would be an honour to represent my country but I will have to play very well until then to qualify,” said Wang, who is currently second on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
The top-15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympics, with a limit of four players from a given country. Beyond the top-15, players will be eligible based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two eligible players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top-15.