Asian Tour stars chase for four tickets to the Open Championship

Chonburi: An elite cast of Asian Tour stars will vie for four tickets to the year’s third Major at The Open Championship International Final Qualifying – Asia in Thailand next week.

Thai stars Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Prayad Marksaeng, Siddikur of Bangladesh, David Gleeson of Australia and Mardan Mamat of Singapore, all winners on the Asian Tour, will headline the qualifier staged from March 1 to 2 (Thursday and Friday).

A total of 78 players will converge at the majestic Amata Spring Country Club, venue of last year’s inaugural Thailand Golf Championship on the Asian Tour, with hopes of securing a place in The Open Championship which will be held at Royal Lytham St Annes Golf Club, England in July.

Kiradech, currently third on the Order of Merit, will be in the hunt for his first appearance in a Major tournament. Known for his grip-it and rip-it style of play, he will rely on his superb form to propel him into the top-four next week.

He got off to a fast start in the new Asian Tour season, enjoying a tied second finish at the Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Air Bagan and a tied 10th placing at the Avantha Masters in India last week.

Gleeson, who will be among eight Australians in the field next week, will be seeking a return to The Open Championship five years after his debut in the Major tournament. He ended a three-year title drought at last year’s Hero Indian Open and will be eyeing to replicate his winning performance at Amata Spring.

India’s rising star Gaganjeet Bhullar, a two-time Asian Tour winner, is relishing the opportunity of playing in his second Open Championship.

Bhullar made his Major debut in 2009 and missed the halfway cut but the experience of playing among the world’s best players propelled him to win his first Asian Tour title in Indonesia.

With two Asian Tour victories under his belt, Daisuke Maruyama will be looking to add a Major appearance to his resume. The Japanese finished in 20th place on the Order of Merit last year courtesy of three top-10s, one of which was a tied sixth result at the season-ending Thailand Golf Championship held at Amata Spring.

Prom Meesawat of Thailand, who won the The Open Championship International Final Qualifying – Asia last year, will also feature in the event next week alongside Himmat Rai of India, Angelo Que of the Philippines and Danny Chia, the first Malaysian to play in all four rounds of The Open Championship in 2010.