An International Field
In its long and storied history, The Open has yet to produce a winner from Asia.
Judging by recent trends, however, it is probably just a matter of time before a player from this part of the world gets to claim the Claret Jug. Perhaps it will be this week. Here are three players to follow, all of whom are making waves in the professional ranks.
Hideki Matsuyama, Japan
At 26, Matsuyama has established himself in the upper echelons of the game. He plays primarily in the United States and became the first Asian winner of a World Golf Championships event when he won the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai in 2016. He has since added a second WGC title to his portfolio, the WGC-Bridgestone, and has won five times in total on the PGA Tour, together with eight wins in Japan. At the end of 2017, he was ranked No.5 in the world.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thailand
With four victories on the European Tour, Aphibarnrat, 28, has proved himself at the highest levels. Known for his exciting brand of play, he has been dubbed Asia’s John Daly for his go-for-broke style of play. The Thai has proved himself adept at links-style golf, having won the Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay Championship in 2015 at the Murcar Golf Links near Aberdeen, and this year’s ISPS Handa World Super 6 event in Perth, Australia. In good form, he lies 12th on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
Shubhankar Sharma, India
One of the finest young players to emerge from India in recent years, Sharma, who turns 22 on Saturday, already has two victories to his name in his maiden season on the European Tour. His first win came at the Joburg Open, in only his third start on tour, and his second came in his sixth event, the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur, where he sealed victory with a final round of 62. After briefly leading the rankings in the Race to Dubai, he finished tied ninth at the WGC-Mexico Championship, having led going into the final round. A player made for the big stage, he played at the Masters and the US Open this year, but missed the cut at both. "Both were great experiences," he said, "but now I want to do better than just tee it up on the first two days.”
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