An elite cast of Asian Tour stars will vie for four places at golf’s oldest Major at The Open Championship International Final Qualifying — Asia in Thailand this 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 two-day qualifier which gets underway on Thursday, 1 March.
A total of 78 players will converge at Amata Spring Country Club, Chonburi, venue of last year’s inaugural Thailand Golf Championship, with hopes of securing a place in The Open 2012 at Royal Lytham & St Annes this July.
Kiradech (pictured, left), currently third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, will be seeking 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 comes into the event on a good run of form, enjoying a tied second finish at the Zaykabar Myanmar Open 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 five years after his debut at Carnoustie in 2007. He ended a three-year title drought at last year’s Hero Indian Open and will be looking 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 after qualifying via IFQ in 2009.
Although Bhullar missed the halfway cut at Turnberry, 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 Asian Tour 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 (pictured, right), who won IFQ — Asia last year, will also feature in the event next week alongside Himmat Rai of India, Angelo Que of the Philippines and Danny Chia, who became the first Malaysian to play in all four rounds of The Open Championship in 2010.