Thailand Golf Championship - Event Report
Fraser, Hend, Moore and Lahiri qualify for The Open in Thailand
Marcus Fraser, Scott Hend, Jonathan Moore and Anirban Lahiri have qualified for the 144th Open at St Andrews after the final round of the Thailand Golf Championship.
“The Open at St Andrews was the first Major I ever played. I was jumping out of my skin on the first tee but hopefully I’ll be calmer next year”
Fraser, from New South Wales in Australia, led the chase for the four qualifying places on offer at Amata Spring Country Club with a steady performance from start to finish. The 36-year-old fell just short of a second Asian Tour victory after narrowly missing his putt on the 18th to force a playoff with winner Lee Westwood, who had already secured a place in The Open.
The Australian mixed five birdies with three bogeys on Sunday to close with a 70 and finish tied second on seven-under-par alongside US Open champion Martin Kaymer, who is also exempt. The two-time European Tour travelled to Thailand in an attempt to qualify for The Open, and will now make his return to St Andrews ten years after making his Major Championship debut there in 2005.
“The Open at St Andrews was the first Major I ever played. I was jumping out of my skin on the first tee but hopefully I’ll be calmer next year,” said Fraser, who had his best result Open result in 2006 at Royal Liverpool where he finished tied 35th.
Fraser’s compatriot Hend, from Queensland, also played in The Open at St Andrews in 2005 and will make his second appearance in 2015. The six-time Asian Tour winner carded a 69 on Sunday to finish in fifth place on four-under-par.
“St Andrews is my favourite golf course in the world and just to know that The Open is on my schedule seven months from now, I can’t really describe the feeling.”
“Of course you’d like to be a Major Champion but if you could possibly win The Open at St Andrews that’s just the cherry on the cake. It’s the best accomplishment for all professional golfers,” said Hend.
American Moore, who was playing on a sponsor’s invitation, had a dream week at Amata Spring and will make his first appearance at The Open next year. The 29-year-old former Walker Cup player finished joint sixth on three-under-par alongside Lahiri and exempt player Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand. He’ll make a return to St Andrews after playing the Old Course at the 2007 Dunhill Links Championship.
“I didn’t even think I’d have a chance to try and qualify for The Open next year and now that I’m going, it’s incredible. St Andrews is my favourite golf course in the world and just to know that The Open is on my schedule seven months from now, I can’t really describe the feeling.”
Moore rolled in a 20 foot putt on the 18th to secure his place in The Open before embracing his wife Claire, who caddied for him in Thailand and is expecting the couple’s first child.
Lahiri, from Bangalore, India, closed with a 73 on Sunday to clinch the final place in The Open. The five-time Asian Tour winner earned his most recent victory at the Venetian Macau Open in October and will make a third start at The Open in 2015.
“As a kid, I didn’t watch too much golf but I always watched The Open at St Andrews.”
“As a kid, I didn’t watch too much golf but I always watched The Open at St Andrews. You see all of the things on television that you dream of experiencing for yourself, like the Swilcan Bridge and the Road Hole Bunker. You hear all the stories and legends, but to be there in person will be something very special.”
The Thailand Golf Championship was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series, which gives players a chance to qualify for The Open at leading tour events around the world. Fraser, Hend, Moore and Lahiri will join Australians Rod Pampling, Brett Rumford and Greg Chalmers who qualified for The Open at the Emirates Australian Open in November.
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Round 3 Review
Australia’s Marcus Fraser is in position to qualify for the 144th Open at St Andrews after three steady rounds moved him to the top of the leaderboard at the Thailand Golf Championship.
India’s Anirban Lahiri (pictured), Jonathan Moore of the United States and Scott Hend of Australia hold the other three Open qualifying places with 18 holes left to play at Amata Spring Country Club near Bangkok.
Fraser is aiming to make a return to the Home of Golf next year, ten years after making his Open debut in 2005. The 36-year-old carded four birdies and a pair of bogeys on Saturday to take the outright lead on five-under-par and is on pace to make a fifth appearance at The Open, which will be played from 16-19 July, 2015.
“It is every kid's dream to play the Holy Grail at the Holy Grail.”
Lahiri conquered Amata Spring’s testing conditions to deliver a four-under-par 68 in a third round that saw the Bangalore native charge up the leaderboard to six-under par through 13 holes. He dropped two shots down the stretch on the 16th and 18th holes but is in position to make a third Open appearance.
“It is every kid’s dream to play the Holy Grail at the Holy Grail,” said Lahiri about The Open at St Andrews.
“I think it is fantastic to have an event like this where you have the opportunity to qualify for The Open. It gives any player an opportunity to try and qualify for a Major. I think it is brilliant.”
Lahiri is in second place one shot behind Fraser and one ahead of 2014 US Open winner Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Tommy Fleetwood who are tied for third place and have each already secured an exemption for The Open.
American Jonathan Moore sits in sixth place on two-under-par and has the potential to play in his first Open if he can hold on to the qualifying position tomorrow. The 29-year-old has a single victory on the Asian Development Tour and has twice finished runner-up on the Asian Tour.
Scott Hend of Australia is tied for seventh place with England’s Simon Griffiths but holds the qualifying place based on his higher position in the Official World Golf Ranking. The six-time Asian Tour winner, who earned his most recent victory at the Hong Kong Open in October, has made a single Open appearance at St Andrews in 2005.
At the conclusion of the Thailand Golf Championship on Sunday, four players who finish in the top 12 and ties who are not already exempt will earn a place in The Open.
Round 2 Review
Marcus Fraser of Australia, home favourite Tirawat Kaewsiribandit of Thailand (pictured), and Americans Jonathan Moore and Paul Peterson hold The Open qualifying places after two rounds at the Thailand Golf Championship.
Fraser leads the race for the four spots in The 144th Open at St Andrews after posting rounds of 69 and 72 in blustery conditions at Amata Spring Country Club. The 36-year-old sits a single shot off the pace set by leader Tommy Fleetwood who has already earned an exemption into The Open.
The New South Wales native is tied for second place at three-under-par alongside Lee Westwood who has also secured his place at the Home of Golf from 16-19 July 2015. Fraser is a two-time winner on the European Tour and is in contention to earn a second Asian Tour victory this week in Thailand. He has made four previous appearances at The Open and his best result was tied 35th at Royal Liverpool in 2006.
Kaewsiribandit is playing his first season as a professional and is on track to earn a place in his first Major sitting on a two-under-par total of 142. The 24-year-old gained entry into his home nation’s flagship championship at a pre-qualifying event on Monday and is one shot ahead of veteran compatriot Thongchai Jaidee who will make his 11th start at The Open in 2015. Kaewsiribandit mixed five birdies and five bogeys for a 72 on Friday and is tied for fourth place heading into the weekend.
Moore is also two shots off the lead in fourth place after two steady rounds of 71 put him in position to make his first appearance at The Open. The 29-year-old has a single Asian Development Tour victory to his name and made his first start in a Major at the 2006 US Open. The Californian enjoyed a strong amateur career that saw him earn the 2006 NCAA individual championship before sealing the winning point at the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal County Down.
Peterson is also aiming to make his maiden appearance at The Open and is currently tied for sixth place alongside Jaidee and reigning US Open winner Martin Kaymer, who is already exempt. The 26-year-old from Arizona has produced five top-five finishes in his first season on the Asian Tour in 2014 and posted rounds of 71 and 72 to sit at one-under-par with a total score of 143.
Round 1 Review
Marcus Fraser of Australia, Thanyakon Khrongpha of Thailand, Richard Lee of Canada and Lu Wei-chih of Chinese Taipei hold the qualifying places for The Open after the first round of the Thailand Golf Championship.
Fraser, Khrongpha, Lee and Lu each opened with a three-under-par 69 to share the early lead at Amata Spring Country Club near Bangkok. Four players who finish in the top 12 and ties, who are not already exempt, will qualify for the 144th Open at St Andrews from July 16-19, 2015.
“In an ideal world it would be nice to get one of the spots, so hopefully I can keep playing well and give myself a chance at the end of the week.”
New South Wales native Fraser, who has missed most of the season due to a wrist injury, chipped in from 25 yards on the 18th hole for his fifth birdie of the day to secure his share of the lead. The 36-year-old has played in four previous Opens and it was the Thailand Golf Championship's status as an Open Qualifying Series event that convinced him to make the trip from Australia.
"That was the decision behind coming up here, to try and get my spot," said Fraser, who had his best result at The Open in 2006 at Royal Liverpool where he finished tied 35th. "In an ideal world it would be nice to get one of the spots, so hopefully I can keep playing well and give myself a chance at the end of the week."
Home favourite Khrongpha narrowly missed out on his maiden Asian Tour victory last week after finishing runner-up to former Open Champion Padraig Harrington at the BANK BRI Indonesia Open. The 24-year-old will make his Major Championship debut if he can hold on to one of the qualifying places for The Open.
Toronto native Lee plays full time in Asia and earned his first professional victory on the Asian Tour earlier this year at the Solaire Open. He has yet to make an appearance at The Open but qualified for the 2007 US Open at the age of 16, becoming the second-youngest golfer in the history of the tournament at the time. He withdrew due to a wrist injury and is aiming to make his return to a Major at the Home of Golf.
Lu, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, is showing a return to form after taking a year of medical leave in 2012 when he was diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumour. The 35-year-old has also yet to make an appearance in The Open.