The Open Qualifying Series - Thailand Golf Championship
Donaldson leads Open Qualifying Series places in Thailand
Welshman Jamie Donaldson led the qualifiers for The 145TH Open at Royal Troon after winning the Thailand Golf Championship today and was joined by England’s Lee Westwood, Clement Sordet of France and young Thai player Phachara Khongwatmai.
“It’s great to get into The Open. It’s my favourite championship of the year. I have played in every one since 1995 so it’s nice to keep that run going”
The championship at Amata Spring Country Club is the second event in The Open Qualifying Series with four places available in The Open at Royal Troon from 14-17 July 2016.
Donaldson, who has three wins on the European Tour and won the decisive match in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, sealed a three-shot victory in Thailand with a seven-under-par closing round of 65 to finish on 21-under-par for the championship. The 40-year-old opened with three consecutive birdies and, despite bogeys at the 9th and 16th holes, picked up six further shots to secure the win and his sixth appearance in The Open.
“It was important to come here and try and play well and contend and I did that and ended up winning,” he said. “That’s what I came here to do. It’s awesome when it all comes off your way.
“Importantly this has enabled me to get into The Open. I needed to win to get into the top 50 so there was a lot to play for and hopefully it all comes to fruition next year.”
Westwood, the former world number one and defending champion, posted a five-under-par 67 to finish on 18-under-par for the championship. The 42-year-old notched up five birdies without dropping a shot and will now make his 22nd consecutive appearance in golf’s oldest championship, where his best finish has been as runner-up to Louis Oosthuizen at St Andrews in 2010.
“It’s great to get into The Open,” said Westwood. “It’s my favourite championship of the year. I have played in every one since 1995 so it’s nice to keep that run going.
“I’ve played at Royal Troon quite a few times and I finished fourth there one year. I like the golf course as it’s a traditional links, straight out, straight back. It’s got everything you want from a links course.”
Sordet closed with a two-under-par round of 70 to finish tied with Westwood on 18-under-par. The 23-year-old former Palmer Cup player mixed five birdies and three bogeys on his way to securing his debut appearance in a Major Championship. It caps a fine season for the Frenchman, who secured his maiden victory as a professional in only his fourth attempt at the Northern Ireland Open on the European Challenge Tour in August.
“I really didn’t expect to get into The Open. I was very lucky to get an invite to this tournament and I was really fortunate to play well enough to win this spot. I am really looking forward to playing at The Open.”
“I really didn’t expect to get into The Open,” said Sordet. “I was very lucky to get an invite to this tournament and I was really fortunate to play well enough to win this spot. I am really looking forward to playing at The Open.
“I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to see all the best players in the world. Hopefully I will play well and make the cut but I’m just going to try and have fun.”
The final qualifying place was taken by home hope Khongwatmai, who dropped just one shot on his way to a final round six-under-par 66 to finish on 13-under-par for the Championship. The 16-year-old came through the Monday pre-qualifying event for the Thailand Golf Championship to finish in sixth place. Sergio Garcia and Byeong-Hun An, who finished in a tie for fourth place on 14-under-par, are already exempt for The Open.
“I am overwhelmed with happiness that I can be able to be included in The Open next year,” he said. “I played with no expectations so I guess that was the key to playing well today.
“I came through the Qualifier on Monday and I was already very happy to get a chance to play with the top stars this week. I didn’t think so much and I surprised even myself to finish so well.”
The Open Qualifying Series continues at the Joburg Open in South Africa from 14-17 January 2016.
Round Three Wrap
Sordet, Donaldson, Westwood and Brazel in position to qualify for The Open
France’s Clement Sordet is in position to earn his second professional victory and a place in The 145th Open at Royal Troon after carding a sizzling nine-under-par 63 on Saturday to stake his claim at the top of the leaderboard.
The leading four players, who finish in the top 12 and ties at Amata Spring Country Club and who are not already exempt, will earn a place in The Open from 14-17 July, 2016. In the event of a tie, the qualifying place(s) will go to the player with the highest position in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Sordet started the day in eighth place but climbed the leaderboard to overtake first and second round leader Jamie Donaldson with an eagle-three on the 15th hole, finishing the day with a 16-under-par total score of 200. The 23-year-old, who enjoyed a glittering amateur career that saw him win six collegiate titles as a member of the Texas Tech men’s golf team, earned his maiden victory as a professional in only his fourth attempt at the Northern Ireland Open on the Challenge Tour in August. He leads the field by two shots and is in position to make his Major Championship debut at Royal Troon.
Donaldson relinquished his lead after carding a one-under-par 71 on moving day and sits in second place. The three-time European Tour winner, who clinched the Ryder Cup for the European side at Gleneagles in 2014, is in position to make his sixth start at The Open. The Welshman’s best result to date was at Muirfield in 2013 where he finished tied 32nd.
The third position on offer is held by two-time Thailand Golf Championship winner Lee Westwood of England. The 42-year-old started the day eight shots off the pace but made a move with an eight-under-par 64 to step into contention for a Thai treble after winning the inaugural tournament in 2011 and again in 2014. He has played in every staging of The Open since 2005 and has earned four top-5 finishes including in 2010 at St Andrews when he finished runner-up to Champion Golfer of the Year Louis Oosthuizen. He sits three shots back of Sordet on 13-under-par 203 in third place heading into tomorrow’s final round.
A steady performance from Aussie Sam Brazel saw the 36-year-old from Lismore move into seventh place and into contention for a spot in The Open. He added a four-under-par 68 on Saturday to an opening 70 and Friday’s 68 to sit six shots off the lead behind the already exempt Byeong-Hun An, who is in fourth place, and Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer who are tied for fifth. Brazel is on target for a strong finish at the Asian Tour’s flagship event after missing the cut in 2013 and 2014. His best finish to date came earlier this year at The World Classic Championship at Laguna National in Singapore in November where he finished fourth.
Round Two Wrap
Chinnarat Phadungsil leads the home charge for places in The 145TH Open in Thailand
Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil leads the home charge for places in The 145th Open at Royal Troon at the halfway mark of the Thailand Golf Championship at Amata Spring Country Club.
Phadungsil closed out the second round with a three-under-par 69 to sit four shots behind leader Jamie Donaldson on nine-under-par. The 27-year-old, who is a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, carded four birdies and a single bogey to sit tied for third on nine-under-par 135 alongside England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick and Sergio Garcia of Spain, who are both already exempt for The Open. If Phadungsil can maintain his form until Sunday, he will make his Major Championship debut at Royal Troon.
“I have never played in The Open before so I really hope I can be one of the four players to qualify this week. I think I should have a good chance if I can play like how I did for the first two rounds,” said Phadungsil.
Donaldson added a four-under-par 68 to his opening 63 to maintain his lead and a position in golf’s oldest championship next July. The Welshman managed seven birdies on Friday but dropped shots on the 3rd, 5th, and 9th holes to see his lead cut to two shots ahead of Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who is in second place on 11-under-par and has already secured his place in The Open.
Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat holds the third place on offer after moving up the leaderboard with a six-under-par 66 on Friday to sit tied sixth on eight-under-par with Korea’s Byeong-Hun An, who is already exempt. The 22-year-old is looking for his breakthrough victory this week at the Asian Tour’s flagship event as well as a place at Royal Troon.
“It is always a golfer’s dream to play in a Major, especially The Open. I would be jumping around if I can get one of the spots available. I would be really happy. I will try to keep it the way it is and make something happen over the next two rounds,” said Pittayarat.
The fourth qualifying place is held by France’s Clement Sordet, who earned his maiden professional victory earlier this year at the Challenge Tour’s Northern Ireland Open in April. The 23-year-old former Palmer Cup player carded a 66 on Friday to sit in eighth place on seven-under-par and is looking to secure his first start in a Major Championship.
Round One Wrap
Jamie Donaldson leads chase for places in The 145TH Open in Thailand
Welshman Jamie Donaldson opened the Thailand Golf Championship with a nine-under-par 63 to lead the chase for The Open qualifying places on offer at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand.
Donaldson, who has made five previous appearances at The Open, charged out of the gate on Thursday with four straight birdies before adding a string of pars to close out his front nine. He added a further five birdies on the back nine to open the championship three shots clear of 2013 winner Sergio Garcia, who is already exempt for The Open, and Thailand’s Chanat Sakulpolphaisan and Chinnarat Phadungsil who are tied for second place on six-under-par with Garcia.
Along with Sakulpolphaisan and Phadungsil, Natipong Srithong is the third Thai player to hold a qualifying place for The Open. All three are aiming to make their Major Championship debuts next July at Royal Troon.
Sakulpolphaisan is part of the strong home contingent of players looking to become the first Thai winner of the Asian Tour’s flagship event. The 25-year-old, who played collegiate golf for Mississippi State before turning professional, earned his first victory on the Asian Development Tour in November when he triumphed at the PGM Nilai Springs Championship. He carded seven birdies before dropping a single shot on the 16th hole on Thursday to finish on 66.
Also on six-under-par is Phadungsil, who became the youngest winner on the Asian Tour in 2005 when he won the Double A International Open at the age of 17. The 27-year-old is pursuing his fourth Asian Tour title this week as well as a place in The Open.
Asian Tour rookie Srithong, 22, secured his first victory at the Resorts World Manila Masters in November and is in position to make a start at golf’s oldest championship after carding a five-under-par 67 to share fifth place with American Brett Munson, with Srithong holding the spot based on his higher position in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“Winning in the Philippines has given me a lot of confidence in my game,” said Srithong. This is my third time playing this event and first time as a professional. I will try my best to finish well this week and try to earn a spot in The Open next year.”
The Thailand Golf Championship is the second event in The Open Qualifying Series which gives players a chance to qualify for golf’s most international Major Championship at leading Tour events around the world.