Kitayama seizes the halfway lead at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open


Published on November 30, 2018

Beau Champ, Mauritius, November 30: Kurt Kitayama of the United States shot his second seven-under-par 65 in two days to take control at the halfway stage of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Friday.

The 25-year-old started where he left off, making a birdie on hole one. However, he dropped shots for the first time in the tournament, making a double-bogey at the par-five second.

Undeterred, Kitayama displayed plenty of resolve and skill to came back with four consecutive birdies in his subsequent four holes at the Four Seasons Golf Club, Mauritius at Anahita.

Kitayama, who is enjoying a successful season on the Asian Tour after making the mark at this year’s Qualifying School, sunk four more birdies on his inward nine before signing for a 13-under-par 130 total at the event, tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the Sunshine Tour.

Chikkarangappa S. of India

India’s Chikkarangappa S. is two shots behind after ending his day with a 68. The wheels seemed to have fallen off for the 25-year-old Indian after consecutive bogeys on holes 14 and 15. However, he made a fantastic recovery after the turn by sinking five birdies in a row from holes one to five. Another birdie on nine put him in lone second going into the weekend rounds.

Frenchmen Victor Perez and Matthieu Pavon shot 69 and 66 respectively to keep up the pace. They are three shots behind the leader, in tied-third.

Justin Harding made the cut for the first time at the AfrAsia BankMauritius Open. The South African hit some wild drives on his first 10 holes that led to three bogeys, but he managed to haul himself back into contention with four consecutive birdies from holes two to five.

Harding finished the second day in tied-seventh, and he has an excellent opportunity to close the gap on leader Shubhankar Sharma in the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings race.

Did you know:

  • Kurt Kitayama earned his Asian Tour this year via Qualifying School with a third-place finish. Tour cards are given to golfers within the top-35 and ties.
  • He was 1121st on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) at the end of 2017. He is currently ranked 362nd after his fine performances on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) and Asian Tour.
  • Kitayama has yet to miss a cut and he has three top-10s on the Asian Tour this season. He is 20th on the Habitat for Humanity Standings and has virtually secured a Tour card for next season.
  • Chikkarangappa S. left the 2016 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in tears. He was first reserve for the tournament but had to leave for home as he could not get the final spot.
  • He won the TAKE Solutions India Masters, an event on the Asian Development Tour, in 2014 and 2015.
  • He will be looking to improve on his best result on the Asian Tour this season, a ninth-place finish at the TAKE Solutions Masters, here in Mauritius.
  • Victor Perez is a two-time winner on the Challenge Tour.
  • Justin Harding has never made the cut at his previous three AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open tournaments.
  • He is enjoying one of his best seasons as a professional golfer. Currently, he is placed third on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings and first on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
  • He earned a spot at this year’s PGA Championship after breaking into the top-100 of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) following his Royal Cup victory.

Kurt Kitayama (Usa) – Second round 65 (-7), total 130 (-14)

I started with a birdie and then just had a little blunder on two. I got back on track straight right after, so it was nice to bounce back after a double.

It was just a little pitching wedge on 17, hit it to about five or six feet and made that putt. I hit a good drive on 18, so that was short iron in and a two putt. Those were two stress-free birdies.

I’m driving it well which is making it a lot easier. It’s a pretty big advantage to be able to hit shorter irons in. I’m feeling pretty comfortable. I’ll stay the same over the weekend, still be aggressive. It’s gone well so far so don’t want to switch things up too much.

I’m just focusing on this little stretch to end 2018 and then regroup at the end of the year and see what I’m thinking about for the future. It’s just trusting the process. Coming from the end of the Web.com season and transitioning to the Asian Tour. I’ve been making some changes, it’s a whole process and it’s starting to pay off.

Chikkarangappa S. (Ind) – Second round 68 (-4), total 132 (-12)

I started the round well; a par followed by a birdie. I just got a bit of bad luck on holes 14 and 15, where my ball got plugged in the bunker. I told myself to hit more fairways and give myself birdie opportunities, and that was what I did from hole one.

I birdied the first hole and made birdies until hole five. That was an important run for me to get back to where I was yesterday.  I putted really well. Made some solid putts on four and five. There were some tough lines and I was able to read them. Overall, it was a good front nine (holes one to nine).

It was pretty warm out there but you’re on the ocean side, the cool breeze would come in but if you’re in the middle of the course, it can get hotter but I guess, I’m used to it. I’ve just got to hydrate myself.

I’m looking at making my card look red. That’s the goal for this week.

Previously, I didn’t have that confidence in my golf swing, so I had to make adjustments. I managed to do that. I was also thinking too much and I didn’t swing the way I wanted. I tweaked my swing about seven weeks back and now I feel solid about it. The last time I felt like this was about one and a half years back at the Macao Open. Since then, I’ve struggled. Looking forward, I’ve got to stay patient and just keep working on my game.

Victor Perez (Fra) – Second round 69 (-3), total 133 (-11)

I thought it was quite nice to bounce back after the bogey at the second. Going off at 7 am with no wind and really ideal conditions and the two par fives at the second and the fourth, you’re hoping to get off to a good start.

I wasn’t able to do that, but I was able to grind through it, stay patient, make some pars. The birdies at nine and ten got the round going and then two more birdies on the back nine and especially the birdie on nine was nice to finish with.

It was definitely nice to back up the performance of yesterday with another solid round. Only one dropped shot early which could have been avoided but I don’t think I was really in trouble, except at the 11th where I could have dropped a shot and I was able to make a nice par save. Definitely pleased moving into the weekend.

I feel like the conditions are ideal. It’s not windy, it’s warm, the ball is travelling quite far. It helps some of those missed shots a little bit to still carry and get the distance.

You’re trying to give yourself some opportunities but I think some of the missed shots are penalised less than if it was a little bit worse condition.

Justin Harding (Rsa) – Second round 69 (-3), total 136 (-8)

It was one of those days when I was coming out and swinging badly. I didn’t hit it very good for the first 10 holes or so. Amazingly, I missed fairways and these fairways are hard to miss at times. But, I’m happy with the result. I said to my caddy that it has been a bigger grind than what I expected at the start of the day. I made a few of birdies in the back nine, and I played my way back to the tournament.

Chipped from the back on the green on hole two, which lipped out. That was a good one. I hit it close, about 10 feet on three. I hit a driver off the deck on four that went to the green. I felt that I should be more under par than I should have been.

Silly three putt on seven. The greens were a little slower compared to yesterday. I don’t like three-putting, it annoys me badly. I had a birdie on the ninth and now I can enjoy lunch.

It’s a good day. I am happy to grind out a sub 70. I’m still in the tournament, doing what I’ve been doing all season long.

This is my first cut made out of four tournaments! It’s a bonus. This time, I can enjoy the tournament on the golf course and not so much on the beach.


Published on

Bangkok, Thailand, November 30: American Johannes Veerman took advantage of his brilliant form to sign for a five-under-par 65 and continued to hold his lead at the halfway stage of the Queen’s Cup hosted by Jaidee Foundation.

The 26-year-old Veerman leads by one shot on a 13-under-par 127 total over defending champion Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand and Miguel Tabuena of Philippines, who carded matching 63s to share second place at the US$500,000 event staged at Legacy Golf Club.

Veerman, chasing a breakthrough victory on the Asian Tour since coming through Qualifying School in 2016, set the tone early in the round when he drilled in a 30-footer for birdie on the first hole.

The 2016 Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit winner returned with a bogey-free round highlighted by five birdies to stay atop the leaderboard at the event hosted by Thai veteran Thongchai Jaidee.

One-time Asian Tour winner Tabuena, who is on a mission to end a three-year title drought on the region’s premier Tour, stayed bogey-free through 36 holes to trail by one shot with Jazz on 128.

The Thai, who is looking to become the first player in the tournament history to successfully defend the Queen’s Cup title, traded nine birdies against two bogeys to put himself in prime position for a weekend charge.

India’s Amardip Malik was thrilled to sign for a 65, which marked his career-best score outside the country, to take fourth place on his own at the 11th edition of the Queen’s Cup.

Thai legend Thaworn Wiratchant posted a 67 to lurk five shots off the pace in tied-fifth with countrymen Natipong Srithong (66), Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (62) and Peradol Panyathanasedh (65).

A total of 75 players made the halfway cut set at one-under-par 139.

Did you know?

·       Johannes Veerman is currently ranked 40th on the Habitat for Humanity Standings.

·       The American tied the knot earlier in this year in Switzerland, which is also where his wife Angela is based to play professional volleyball.

·       Veerman enjoyed a dream rookie season in 2016 when he secured his breakthrough victory on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) which led him to lift the ADT Order of Merit crown.

·       Miguel Tabuena needed only 25 putts in his second consecutive bogey-free round which was seven putts better than his opening round.

·       Tabuena will be eyeing his second Asian Tour victory this week since claiming his maiden victory at his National Open in 2015. He secured his second Philippine Open title on his local circuit in March this year.

·       Tabuena’s best finish in his past six Queen’s Cup appearances was a fifth-place result in July this year.

·       Jazz Janewattananond is aiming to become the first player in the history of the event to successfully defend the title.

·       Jazz missed only three fairways and found 15 greens-in-regulation in his solid second round of 63.

·       Amardip Malik, who is playing under a country exemption, is playing in his first start outside the country this week.

·       Malik has one win on his local circuit in 2017 which came two years after he was diagnosed with a bone defect and was forced to take a seven-month layoff from golf.

·       The Indian only needed 24 putts in his round of 65, which marks his personal best score outside of India.

·       At 52 years young, Thaworn Wiratchant is the oldest player placed in the top-five while Atiruj Winaicharoenchai, 18-years-old, is the youngest player.

·       Thaworn has won once on the Japan Senior Tour and once on the Staysure Tour this season..

Players’ Quotes:

Johannes Veerman (Usa) – Second Round 65 (-5), Total 127 (-13)

Sometimes you can come off a good round and wonder if it’s still there today. I saw those guys from the morning session on top and it just gave me something to shoot for. My aim coming into today was to shoot around five or six under so I did achieve that.

I started the round with a great birdie on the first after sinking a 30-footer and that got the ball rolling. I had a lot of confidence coming from that and lasted throughout the round. I’m really happy with how I did today and excited for tomorrow.

I’m playing it pretty safe for the most part on this course. You can make a lot of silly mistakes on this course. Tee to green I will just have to keep my ball in play all weekend.

There is a lot of golf left to play and I am halfway through. I know jazz and Miguel are quality players, so I expect them to play well and put up a good fight, but I expect myself to perform well too.

Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) – Second Round 63 (-7), Total 128 (-12)

I started off good like yesterday’s round with a birdie. Got off to a good start and then had some stupid mistakes along the way. On hole 14 I just got it on the wrong side of the green and three-putted. But the good thing was I managed to get it out of my mind and move on pretty quick and recovered with a birdie right after.

My game is pretty much the same as yesterday, nothing really stood out and I think I could’ve done way better if not for some shots I left out there.

I had one good putt today on hole eight, before I three-putted the last. Pretty frustrated with how I ended the round. It was easy putts like that, that I was giving away all day.

Don’t get my wrong today was still a good round, but I could have gone so much lower if I eliminate some of these mistakes.

Miguel Tabuena (Phi) – Second Round 63 (-7), Total 128 (-12)

I took advantage of the calm conditions this morning and I am pretty happy with my round. All my birdies were inside six feet because I am striking the ball well but there is a lot of golf left to play so I am not going to get ahead of myself.

I am hitting the ball really well. If I continue to hit it like that the next two rounds and maybe drop a few more putts I know it will be a good week for me.

My father surprised me by flying out to see me this weekend. I’m happy that he is going to see me because I always like when my parents come and watch me play.

It’s tough if you don’t hit the fairways here. Just keeping it on the fairways and going for the pins is my plan this week.

Amardip Malik (Ind) – Second Round 65 (-5), Total 131 (-9)

I have been playing well for a bit now. This is my first start outside the country. I hit it well all day so my game is feeling good.

I kept it together all day. The highlight of my round would have to be on the last hole when I made a 35-footer for birdie. I wasn’t expecting it, and just wanted to make a two-putt for par. But it came out of nowhere and it was a nice end to a good round.

I made a lot of good up and downs to save par today. I am very excited because this is my best score ever outside of the country and I just feel really good going into the weekend.

Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) – Second Round 67 (-3), Total 132 (-8)

I played better than yesterday and my putting helped me a lot. I think my approach shots could have been better, the fairways are wide but it is important to place your ball on the right side of the green to shoot low here.

There were a couple of tricky in positions today and I was not on the right side of the green on a lot of holes. But no complaints because I think I still did better and I am happy with my round.

Scores after round 2 of the Queen’s Cup hosted by Jaidee Foundation being played at the par 70, 6939 Yards Legacy GC course (am – denotes amateur):

127 – Johannes Veerman (USA) 62-65.

128 – Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 65-63, Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 65-63.

131 – Amardip Malik (IND) 66-65.

132 – Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 65-67, Natipong Srithong (THA) 66-66, Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 70-62, Peradol Panyathanasedh (THA) 67-65.

133 – Pelle Edberg (SWE) 67-66, Lu Wei-chih (TPE) 67-66, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 65-68.


Published on November 29, 2018

Beau Champ, Mauritius, November 29: India’s Chikkarangappa S. shot one of the best rounds of his professional career, carding an eight-under-par 64 to grab a share of the lead at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Thursday.

The 25-year-old was brilliant from tee to green throughout the day, which led to a bogey-free round at the Four Seasons Golf Club, Mauritius at Anahita.

Chikkarangappa’s confidence is sky-high after making adjustments to his swing. The Indian golfer, who was victorious at an event on his local circuit recently, is determined to end his season on a high by winning the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, or one of the remaining tournaments on the Asian Tour schedule.

Also in tied-first is France’s Victor Perez. He enjoyed a near flawless round, trading nine birdies against a lone bogey.

Kurt Kitayama of the United States, Masahiro Kawamura of Japan and Jaco Van Zyl of South Africa are one shot behind the leaders in tied-third.

Sweden’s Malcolm Kokocinski, who won on the Asian Tour for the first time this season, is also right in the mix after carding a 67 to finish the day in tied-sixth.

Justin Harding of South Africa continued his resplendent form this season and signed for a 67. Harding, third on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings, got away with a bogey on the 16th after a wayward drive. He left the golf course with a broad smile on his face after chipping in for eagle on the 18th.

Did you know:

  • Chikkarangappa S. is a two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), the feeder tour to the Asian Tour.
  • He was the number one golfer on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) in 2015.
  • He secured an Asian Tour card for the 2018 season last year on the number.
  • Chikkarangappa S. had humble beginnings, working as a ball boy and earning US$1 a day.
  • Kurt Kitayama’s first foray into the Asian Tour has led to three top-10s. He is currently 20th on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings.
  • Masahiro Kawamura made his The Open debut this year.
  • Malcolm Kokocinski was leading the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit before his breakthrough victory at the Bangladesh Open this year.
  • He seemed to have turned his season around in Mauritius. After his victory in Bangladesh, the Swede has yet to secure a top-10 finish.
  • Justin Harding is one of the Asian Tour’s best performers this season, evident from his third-placing on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings. He is also the leader on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
  • He won the Bank BRI Indonesia Open and followed by the Royal Cup two weeks later. With that, became the first golfer in Tour history to win twice in his first two starts.
  • Following his Royal Cup win, he broke into the top-100 on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) and earned a spot at the PGA Championship.

Players’ Quotes

Chikkarangappa S. (Ind) – First round 64 (-8)

It was a “dream come true” round today. I hit the ball great, putted really well, kept the ball on the fairway which is key to scoring here, hit 13 fairways, hit almost every green in regulation and made 25 putts. Everything was perfect today.

I was first reserve in 2016 (when the event was held at Anahita) and I didn’t get into the event. I had to go back home, with tears in my eyes. I was playing really solid and was eager to get the chance to play. This year, I was really looking forward to coming and I’m here this week.

Right now, I’m looking to get a win in the remaining three events on the Asian Tour. I’m not thinking of securing my card. I’ve been through the situation last year and made it on the number, and I don’t want to go through it again. The best is just to win an event. If I win here, I’ll get a card both on the Asian Tour and European Tour, and that’s what I’m looking at.

I’m going to stick to my same plan. Good tee shops and hole putts. The weather just needs to stay the same and the good scores will come tomorrow.

I’ve been playing well, having won the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational back home. I’ve changed my golf swing to the way I used to play. I wasn’t feeling comfortable and I made the changes about seven weeks back. Then I won a tournament and last week, I played really well, just that I got punished by kicks and bad lies. I know myself, that I’m playing well and hitting the ball great. This has been the best situation for the last two years.

Victor Perez (Fra) – First round 64 (-8)

I’ve been playing a lot of good golf lately. It’s been a really good streak, a little hard to believe in golf when we know how the highs and the lows can be. I’m trying to ride this wave out as long as possible and it showed again in this first round.

I don’t really know what was going right, I was kind of in the zone. I was just trying to go shot after shot. There were some opportunities out there with no wind on the par fives. I drove the second in two, hitting driver on my second shot gave me a tap-in for birdie.

After missing a short putt for birdie on one, that kept the round going after birdieing 18, I missed that opportunity after the turn on one and the birdie on two really kept it going. Then I was able to birdie three, four and nine to finish which was awesome.

I came here two years ago for a small French event. I think I finished third or fourth so I have good memories of this golf course and I was able to use some of the good visuals that I remembered, which was awesome.

Kurt Kitayama (Usa) – First round 65 (-7)

It was a solid round today. The course is quite open for me and I hit a lot of drivers, and it opened a lot of opportunities for me. Chipping around the greens is difficult so I’m just aiming to hit a lot of greens to avoid those into-the-green chips, and I was able to do that.

Justin Harding (Rsa) – first round 67 (-5)

Mauritius is nice. Whenever you’re on a holiday island, it’s always pretty nice. It’s a little humid, but in a good way. I felt that I was in good control all day. I drove it well; I made a silly bogey on three, but that was just between clubs. There were a few times out there, holes three and eleven in particular, where I was in between clubs. I plodded my way around, made a great putt on eight, slid it down the hill which kept me on and I made a good one on nine. It kept the momentum going through 11 with another par save.

I thought I gave myself good chances on 14th and 15th. The greens were breaking more and faster than I’m used to during practice.

On 16th, I made a bad swing. I am happy to get out there with a five (after incurring stroke and distance penalty). That was a bonus. On 18th, I hit a nice chip-in, which cool, especially when it was done in front of the crowd and on television!

Today’s round is a continuation of a pretty decent year. I’m just going to keep trying. You put three rounds together and give yourself a chance come Sunday. I thought I had a pretty good week in Hong Kong; it’s a matter of doing what I’ve been doing.

[On chasing the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings title] I’m trying to maintain my position and if I have a couple of good results here and in South Africa, then I’ll be able to put myself in a good position. Shubhankar (Sharma) is miles ahead, Sanghyun Park is playing well also. If I play nicely, then we’ll see what happens. It’s as easy as that.

Malcolm Kokocinski (Swe) – first round 67 (-5)

I’m feeling very good. I’m in a good mood, the golf course is very nice and it was an enjoyable walk. I have my older brother on the bag and we’re having a great time. We went to the beach this morning, had a swim and had a very good warm-up. This is a good place, with good vibes.

My putting was great today. I missed three greens, and I made all three up-and-downs. I stayed bogey-free and consistent today. I missed only one fairway, created a lot of opportunities and I told my brother to stay patient and the putts will fall.

This is the second time my brother is caddying for me; the first time was the Korean Open. It has worked out well so far.

We’ll be aiming to keep the mood and the balance good and have a smooth flow throughout the whole week.


Published on

Bangkok, Thailand, November 29: American Johannes Veerman produced the fireworks with a magnificent eight-under-par 62 to lead by three shots at the Queen’s Cup hosted by Jaidee Foundation on Thursday.

The 26-year-old Veerman, who was crowned the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit champion in 2016, rode on a hot putter at the US$500,000 event to put up a near-perfect round which included one eagle and seven birdies against a lone bogey at the highly-rated Legacy Golf Club.

Starting from the 10th hole, Veerman took advantage of the calm morning conditions to nail a pair of birdies on 12th and 13th before pulling away with five straight birdies from the 15th hole. He dropped a shot for his only blemish on his card on the par-three fifth but would bounce back swiftly with an eagle-three on the next after sinking a 20-footer.

Defending champion Jazz Janewattananond also got off to a brilliant start with a 65 highlighted by an eagle on hole 15 after sticking his approach to three-feet.

The Thai took a share of second place with compatriots Thaworn Wiratchant and Kosuke Hamamoto, as well as Miguel Tabuena of Philippines.

Thai prodigy Phachara Khongwatmai, placed 54th on the Habitat for Humanity Standings and among those fighting to keep their cards for 2019, is among the seven players bunched in tied-sixth following matching 66s, just four shots off the pace.

The Queen’s Cup, held in honour of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, is celebrating its 11th edition this week with Thai legend Thongchai Jaidee being the tournament host.

Did you know?

·       Johannes Veerman is chasing his breakthrough victory on the Asian Tour with his father on his bag this week.

·       Veerman missed only three fairways and needed only 24 putts around the greens for his commendable round of 62, which marks his lowest round this year.

·       The American finished tied-10th at the Queen’s Cup presented by Bangchak held in July which sparked the first of four consecutive top-10 finishes he recorded this season.

·       Kosuke Hamamoto is playing in his first Asian Tour event as a professional this week. He joined the play-for-pay ranks in September this year.

·       Kosuke is born to a Japanese father and a Thai mother. His family is based in Thailand and he travels to Japan once a year to celebrate the new year.

·       Thaworn Wiratchant is one of Thailand’s most decorated stars with 18 Asian Tour wins under his belt and two Order of Merit crowns.

·       He is aiming to become the first Thai to win the prestigious trophy three times after winning the showpiece in 2012 and 2014.

·       Jazz Janewattananond secured his second Asian Tour title in July at the Queen’s Cup presented by Bangchak in July when he birdied five of his closing nine holes.

·       The Thai, who made his Major debut earlier this year at The Open Championship, has recorded five top-10 finishes this season, including a runner-up result at the Sarawak Championship in July.

·       Miguel Tabuena claimed his first Asian Tour win at the Philippine Open presented by ICTSI in 2015.

·       He did not miss a single green thanks to his solid ball-striking and only missed one fairway in his opening round.

Players’ Quotes:

Johannes Veerman (Usa)- First Round 62 (-8)

My round overall was pretty good, it was one of the those rounds that just came out of nowhere. I have been playing decently and today everything just came together. Last week I didn’t play as well but I was hitting it alright.

When I started this morning there wasn’t whole lot of wind, I made some birdies and got some momentum and then it just kept rolling. I had a string of birdies that started on the 15th. I was making everything from inside 15-feet which helped a lot.

I made an eagle on hole six which was the highlight of my day. I just bogeyed the hole before and was trying to get that behind me as quick as I could. I hit a good drive down the fairway followed by a five-iron from about 200 yards to about 20-feet. The putt was downhill with a slight break and I saw the line and stuck to it.

Kosuke Hamamoto (Tha)- First Round 65 (-5)

Today was pretty stress-free for me except for hole 11 when I hit a bad drive to the right and didn’t recover well on that hole. I lost focus on that hole and didn’t stick to my game plan so I was pretty frustrated with that double-bogey.

I got luck on the next hole, I didn’t hit a good tee shot but I manged to hole out from the greenside bunker to make birdie It was definitely the turning point for me and I got my momentum going again.

But overall, I am happy with my opening round. This is only my sixth tournament since I turned professional two months ago.

Jazz Janewattananond- First Round 65 (-5)

Honestly overall my game wasn’t that great. There wasn’t anything exceptional about today. I missed a couple of short putts and didn’t hit it that great. I was just trying to keep myself steady all round and put up a decent score.

I made some really silly mistakes today. Like on hole six it is a pretty easy hole but I made bogey there because my drive ended up in a bad lie.

The highlight of my round would have to be hole 15, I hit my approach to about three feet with my five-wood and made the putt for eagle. Sanghyun (Park) also made an eagle on that hole from off the green when he chipped in.

Miguel Tabuena- First Round 65 (-5)

My round was really good and I played really well today. Although I shot five-under-par I think I left a lot of shots out there because I was striking it well today. It could have been an even lower round if I just dropped a couple more putts in the first nine.

Although I missed the cut last week in Hong Kong I knew that I was playing well and it showed this week.

I started out a little slow and I just told myself I was hitting it really well and I just need to pull myself together and drop more putts. When I birdied hole 10, it was my turning point and I knew I could go a lot lower in my back nine.

Scores after round 1 of the Queen’s Cup hosted by Jaidee Foundation being played at the par 70, 6939 Yards Legacy GC course (am – denotes amateur):

62 – Johannes Veerman (USA).

65 – Kosuke Hamamoto (THA), Thaworn Wiratchant (THA), Miguel Tabuena (PHI), Jazz Janewattananond (THA).

66 – Vanchai Luangnitikul (am, THA), Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA), Amardip Malik (IND), Kammalas Namuangruk (THA), Phachara Khongwatmai (THA), Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA), Natipong Srithong (THA).

67 – Peradol Panyathanasedh (THA), Giwhan Kim (KOR), Lu Wei-chih (TPE), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA), Ben Leong (MAS), Ratchapol Jantavara (THA), Pelle Edberg (SWE), Philip Matsson (THA).


Published on November 28, 2018

Beau Champ, Mauritius, November 28: Jeunghun Wang of Korea is excited to be back for the €1 million (approximately US$1.14 million) AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open which tees off on Thursday.

The 23-year-old Wang won the tournament in 2016 and he is riding on the positive vibes from the Four Seasons Golf Club, Mauritius at Anahita to spur him to another triumphant performance.

Wang pipped Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman to the title two years ago, when the tournament was played on the same venue. Both golfers were deadlocked going into the final hole of the event and it was Wang who scored the pivotal birdie on the final hole to win his maiden Asian Tour title by one shot.

Fellow past champions Dylan Frittelli and George Coetzee are also fancying their chances at the event, tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Sunshine Tour.

Last year, when the event was played at the Heritage Golf Club, South Africa’s Frittelli beat India’s Arjun Atwal in a play-off to capture his second European Tour title.

Frittelli is looking to improve his record at the Four Seasons Golf Club, Mauritius at Anahita. He missed the cut when the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open was played there in 2016.

Compatriot Coetzee lifted the winged trophy in 2015 after defeating Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen on the second extra hole. Like many golfers in the field, he is enjoying the pleasant atmosphere in Mauritius but remains focused on playing well in the tournament.

Ernie Els of South Africa

It will be a homecoming for Asian Tour honorary member and International Ambassador Ernie Els. The four-time Major winner will be competing for the first time on the golf course that he designed.

Most definitely, he will be using his intimate knowledge of the course to his advantage at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

Did you know:

  • Jeunghun Wang won back-to-back European titles in 2016, in Morocco and Mauritius. With that, he became the youngest player at 20 years and 263 days to achieve this feat.
  • Wang also capped a remarkable maiden season in Europe by claiming the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year title in 2016.
  • Also in 2016, he was placed a career-high third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit. Apart from his victory in Mauritius, he posted five top-10s on Tour that year.
  • Dylan Frittelli missed the cut at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in 2015 and 2016 before winning it in 2017.
  • He was awarded the European Tour Graduate of the Year in 2017.
  • George Coetzee has traditionally done well in this part of the world. Out of the four European Tour tournaments that he won, three were held in South Africa and one was held in Mauritius.
  • Ernie Els accepted an Asian Tour honorary membership and became the Tour’s International Ambassador in 2013.
  • He won three times on the Asian Tour, at the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic, 2005 Qatar Masters and 2005 BMW Asian Open.

Players’ Quotes

Jeunghun Wang (Kor)

I’m so happy to come back here. I love this course so I’m so excited to play this week and I hope I play well.

I like the wind actually, so I hope it is windy this week. I like the  conditions here – the fairways, the greens, I love it all, so I’m so excited right now.

I love to stay in this resort. There are good views around the hotel, so it’s nice to stay there. I love this whole place.

I won here two years ago so, it feels a little different coming here compared to other tournaments. I’m just really enjoying being here right now. I don’t feel any pressure. I hope to enjoy this week and enjoy Mauritius.

If I win this week, that will meet my goal for this season. I want to win one time this season on the European Tour. That would be good for me. My goal is always to win, so I hope to do that again in the 2019 season.

I played Asian Tour for about three years before transitioning to the European Tour. The experience on the Asian Tour helped me tremendously, as I had the chance to play on a variety of course conditions. I also learned from playing alongside many good players.

And having played on the European Tour for the last two years, I realised that I’ve developed as a person. In particular, I am getting better at managing my emotions better on and off the golf course.

Dylan Frittelli (Rsa)

I look back on last year with fond memories, but I’ve got bigger sights this year. Hopefully I can win a few times or win some even bigger tournaments, but first of all, I want to play well here

I’m trying to win every event I play in, it’s just a matter of getting better and learning different conditions and trying to play better in bigger tournaments which are tougher to win. With better players in the field, it’s always going to be tough, but I’m not putting too much pressure on myself.

Coming in here as defending champion relaxes me if anything because the pressure is off me. People may say, “oh you’re used to the golf course”, well, no, I played here two years ago and missed the cut. Hopefully, this year will go a lot better.

It’s wonderful here. It’s nice to get off the course as you can relax easily. I’m partial to the ocean, I love surfing, I love swimming, so it’s a good spot for me to be in, it calms me down. I’ve got my family here this week as well, my sister, brother in law and parents are here, so I’m sure they’ll take a bit of my time I’m sure.

George Coetzee (Rsa)

I love the island vibe here; it’s such a special place to come and play. Obviously winning the first one makes it extra special for me to come back. It’s good fun. The weather comes and goes – every day you’ll have some time on the beach and some time that you can chill in your room, but it’s just a fun place to come to.

You can’t control the “uncontrollable”; you try to take every day as it comes. I’ll just be trying to play some decent golf as the season progresses.

With so many South Africans in the field, it feels like I’m playing a fun Sunshine Tour event very and we’ve invited a couple of Europeans along to watch us play.

Ernie Els (Rsa)

It’s really exciting to be back, I haven’t been back here since we opened the course. It’s so nice to have a tournament of this stature to be played on our golf course.

We have wider fairways but most of the holes were built with the oceanic winds in consideration. The greens are pretty small and they are quite undulating so that is where your challenge will be this week. You are going to have ample room from the tee, and the course is in good shape, so I think the guys can score.

It’s been nine years since we opened the course and that was the last time I played it. We’ve done quite a few courses since then, but my memories of the place come flooding back. I played the front nine earlier; I’ll play the back nine now and get myself reacquainted with things. It’s interesting to rediscover why I put certain things where I did because ten years ago I was a different person playing golf and designing. I would like to see what I have done good and what I’ve done bad.

When it comes to island courses, it’s the relaxed vibe. When I played in Fiji I had my wife and my daughter with me, and my wife is here this week. We’re close to South Africa; we’re only three and a half, four hours, so I feel like I’m heading home from here.


Published on

Bangkok, Thailand, November 28: Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wei-chih is aiming for a good result that will give his merit standings a huge boost when he tees off for the Queen’s Cup hosted by Jaidee Foundation on Thursday.

With the Asian Tour heading into an exciting climax to the season, Lu will be among the bubble boys fighting to keep their cards at the US$500,000 event which is held at the Legacy Golf Club for the first time since it was inaugurated as an Asian Tour event in 2009.

Lu, a four-time Asian Tour winner, earned a two-year winner’s exemption through his win at the 2016 Mercuries Taiwan Masters. He will need a strong performance to ensure he continues to keep his card for the 2019 season. While he understands the importance of the week, Lu also knows he has to stay patient to take on the strong challenge from the local contingent led by defending champion Jazz Janewattananond.

Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai, whose name translates to “Diamond”, is heartened to be back home after plying his trade on European soil for majority of the season. The Thai prodigy, who is also along the cut-off line, hopes to sparkle at the event hosted by his mentor Thongchai Jaidee.

Phachara enjoyed a stellar season in 2017 where he secured four top-five finishes including three runner-up finishes to take a career-high third place on the Asian Tour money ranks. He will bank on his experience of playing in Europe, to give him a final push and secure his spot for next season.

Australia’s Andrew Martin, who earned his Asian Tour card for the first time through Qualifying School this year, is also itching for a breakthrough victory to leave his mark on the Asian Tour.

Juggling between playing on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and the Asian Tour, Martin, who is ranked 67th on the Habitat for Humanity Standings, will put his fatigue aside as he attempts to break into the top-60.

The top-60 players on the final Habitat for Humanity Standings will automatically retain their cards for next year.

Thongchai, who has hosted three successful events on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), will assume responsibility of tournament host for the first time on the Asian Tour with the intention of drawing attention to the Jaidee Foundation.

Did you know?

·       Lu Wei-chih is ranked 57th on the Habitat for Humanity Standings with a current haul of $72,608.

·       Lu is one of the three Chinese Taipei players in the top-60 on the merit standings after Lin Wen-tang in 47th place and Hung Chien-yao in 50th.

·       Lu’s highest finish on the money list since plying his trade on the Asian Tour in 2004 was in 2011 when he enjoyed two wins on home soil that led him to a career-high ninth place.

·       Lu underwent a brain surgery in 2012 and returned to action in 2013 where he only missed one cut in his nine starts.

·       Phachara Khongwatmai currently sits in 54th place on the Habitat for Humanity Standings.

·       Phachara finished a career-high third place on the Merit standings in 2017, thanks to four top-five finishes which include three runner-up results.

·       The Thai grabbed the last Asian Tour card on offer in 2015 when he won the season-ending Asian Development Tour (ADT) event to take the fifth spot on the ADT Order of Merit.

·       Andrew Martin came through Asian Tour Qualifying School this year after finishing tied-20th at the final stage.

·       Martin currently sits in 67th place on the Habitat for Humanity Standings with a current haul of US$55,726.

·       Playing in his first full year on the Asian Tour, the Australian has recorded two top-10 finishes, including a tied-fifth finish at the Asia-Pacific Classic in May.

·       Martin joined the play-for-pay ranks in 2006 and he grew up playing and practicing with fast-rising Australian star Lucas Herbert at Neangar Park Golf Club in Bendigo, Australia.

Players’ Quotes:

Lu Wei-Chih (Tpe)

I am obviously nervous about my position on the Habitat for Humanity Standings but I am trying not to think too much about the results and just concentrate on doing my best. I will do what I need to do this week and let the results take care of itself.

I remembered being in a similar position three years ago and I also told myself not to think too much and just focus on the task ahead. I didn’t play too well at the start of the year but I performed slightly better in the second half of the season.

I finished in the top-10 in two of the events at home but didn’t play too well after that. I missed the cut in Hong Kong by one and I only have two events left to things around. But I have learnt that the more pressure you put on yourself the more you are likely to be affected and not do well.

Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha)

I have not been playing much on the Asian Tour because I have been playing mostly in Europe. Right now I am  around the cut-off point on the Habitat for Humanity Standings but I know that if I just stay consistent in these last couple of events, I am confident of keeping my card.

It has been a year of new experiences and learning how to adapt to different conditions. It was tough having to switch from different weather conditions and playing ondifferent grass. The competition is stiff in Europe and I struggled to do well so I was not able to keep my card on the European Tour.

I am excited to be playing in an event at home, especially since Thongchai (Jaidee) is hosting this event. When I played in Europe this year, I would stay with Thongchai a lot and he was my mentor on Tour. I really respect him and the Queen’s Cup is huge event for most Thais, so I hope to do well this week.

Andrew Martin (Aus)

It’s been a full schedule for me this year and I’m pretty happy with my season. I have been playing pretty consistently and there are a couple of important weeks coming up especially with where I stand right now on the Habitat for Humanity Standings.

It was my goal at the start of the year to finish in the top-60 on the Asian Tour. It would open a lot of doors for me next year just to have a full card again.

The field is strong in Asia with so many great golfers and all the courses I’ve played this year have been in such great condition.

A breakthrough win is definitely on my mind and it would cap off a good year. The game is feeling good and this is the most number of events I have played in a single season since coming through Qualifying School. I think that is why I have been so consistent this year because I am playing week in week out.


Published on November 27, 2018

Beau Champ, Mauritius, November 27: Justin Harding of South Africa is banking on his blistering form this season to reverse his fortunes at the €1 million (approximately US$1.14 million) AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open which tees off on Thursday.

The 32-year-old failed to make the cut at the Mauritius Open in the last three editions of the tournament, but based on how he has been faring on the Asian Tour, Harding is confident that the outcome will be different this year when the event is hosted at the Four Seasons Golf Club, Mauritius at Anahita.

The South African has been resplendent in 2018, having notched five top-10s including two victories in his last nine starts on the Asian Tour. He is placed third on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings and he is the highest-ranked player in the field.

Like Harding, Brazil’s Adilson Da Silva and Sweden’s Malcolm Kokocinski have made their career breakthrough on the Asian Tour this year.

Adilson Da Silva of Brazil

Da Silva had a wretched start to the season, as he did not progress to the weekend rounds in his first six tournaments. However, his season turned around in a big way when he emerged victorious in Chinese Taipei two months ago.

Lifted by his recent victory, the Brazilian is raring to bring his momentum to Mauritius.

Kokocinski was making significant headway on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) at the start of this year. He seized his chances when he was given the opportunity to play an Asian Tour event in Bangladesh and went on to win the tournament by three shots.

The Swede has admitted that his game has not been up to scratch since his victory, but he feels that he is slowly rediscovering the form and he hopes for another breakthrough at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.

Did you know:

  • Justin Harding received an invitation to play at the Indonesia Open by virtue of his good form on the Sunshine Tour. He went on to win the tournament and took up Asian Tour membership.
  • A fortnight later, he won the Royal Cup, becoming the first player on Tour to win twice in his first two starts in Asia.
  • In addition to two victories, Harding has also notched three top-10s this season.  He was second at the Asia Pacific Diamond Cup, tied-fourth at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters and 10th at the Yeangder TPC.
  • Adilson Da Silva is the first Brazilian to win on the Asian Tour.
  • Before his win in Chinese Taipei, Da Silva has made only three cuts in 11 starts this season. He started the season with six consecutive missed cuts before claiming a tied-ninth place result at the Asia Pacific Diamond Cup
  • Da Silva was given the honour of striking the first tee shot at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro when golf made a return into the programme after 112 years.
  • Malcolm Kokocinski was leading the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit before his victory at the Bangladesh Open this year.
  • He is the second Swede to win on the Asian Tour this season after Alexander Bjork at the Volvo China Open
  • Kokocinski’s best finish on the Asian Tour, prior to his breakthrough win, came at the 2016 Shinhan Donghae Open where he came in tied-fourth.

Players’ Quotes

Justin Hardin (Rsa)

Anahita is very wind dependent. The last time I played there, the winds were blowing at 65km/h and I was nearly blown off the golf course! It’s a long golf course and if the wind picks up, it will be very challenging.

It’s a nice week; you get hosted very nicely and it’s an awesome resort. It’s almost like a reward getting into the event. We always look forward to playing in Mauritius.

The guys on the Sunshine Tour will be gunning for my number one spot on the Order of Merit and it’s very important that I play well here. It’s an added bonus that the event is also sanctioned by the Asian Tour so I’ll also improve my position on the Habitat for Humanity Standings if I do well.

[When asked about his happiest memories in Mauritius] It’s funny you asked that because I missed the cut there for the past three years! I hope to bring this year’s performances with me to Mauritius. The winds blew a country mile previously and it was hard work for me. With a bit of luck, it won’t get too bad. I have a couple of things to work on before I get but nevertheless, it’s an awesome event and I’m looking forward to it.

Adilson Da Silva (Bra)

I look forward to playing in Mauritius. The last time I played on Anahita was in 2016. The wind was blowing the whole week, which was actually nice in my opinion. The conditions make you think about your tee shots. It’s a long course and you need to keep the ball in play. Mauritius is a beautiful place to go and a great golf destination.

It’s great to be the first Brazilian to win on Tour and I hope to win again soon. We’re going into final stretch of the season; I’m telling myself to take it one shot at a time and to stay patient. Sometimes, there’s a tendency to get ahead of yourself.

Malcolm Kokocinski (Swe)

This will be my first year in Mauritius and I’m very excited to have to chance to compete here. I haven’t played at the Anahita before but I’ve heard from other players that the course is very beautiful and it gets tricky when the wind picks up.

Winning on Tour has been brilliant so far. I can get to play on many new courses, including the one here at the Mauritius Open. I feel like I’m learning more, and I want to learn as much as possible in preparation for next year and beyond.

I have to admit that I haven’t been playing well after the win in Bangladesh. I’ve struggled a bit but I’ve been playing better recently. I’ll keep practising and stay patient.


Published on

Bangkok, Thailand, November 27: Korea’s Sanghyun Park will continue his chase for the coveted Asian Tour Merit crown when he tees off at the Queen’s Cup hosted by Jaidee Foundation on Thursday.

Placed second on the Habitat for Humanity standings, Park is looking forward to close the gap on leader, Shubhankar Sharma of India, who has opted not to play this week, with a fine showing in the US$500,000 event held at the highly-rated Legacy Golf Club.

With only three events left to play on the schedule and a winner’s prize purse of US$90,000 on offer this week, Park will have everything to play for when he makes his debut appearance at the event which will be hosted by Thai veteran Thongchai Jaidee.

While the battle for the prestigious Merit crown continues this week, the spotlight will also fall on players vying to finish inside the top-60 on the money list to retain their playing rights for the next season.

The 35-year-old Korean will spearhead a star-studded 132-men field with no fewer than 30 Asian Tour winners, including defending champion Jazz Janewattanond, who won in July for his second Asian Tour title.

Jazz, who turned 23 on Monday, hopes to make up for the disappointment of missing the cut in Hong Kong last week by putting up a strong title defence worthy of his status as the rising star from the country, albeit on a different course.

Korean-American Sihwan Kim, placed eighth on the Habitat for Humanity Standings, continues to seek his Asian Tour breakthrough at the event, held in honour of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit.

Kim has been knocking on the door to his maiden win all season, claiming five top-five finishes, including a tied-third result at the last edition of the Queen’s Cup.

Thongchai will assume responsibility of tournament host for the first time on the Asian Tour with the intention of drawing attention to the Jaidee Foundation, which focuses on giving back to the under-privileged golfers in his hometown.

Did you know?

  • Sanghyun Park, who sits in second place on the Habitat for Humanity Standings with a current haul of US$561,898, is the highest-ranked player this week and trails leader Shubhankar Sharma by US$194,096.
  • Park broke into the Asian Tour winner’s circle at the 37th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship in May after emerging victorious following a four-way play-off.
  • He claimed his second victory four months later on home soil at the 34th Shinhan Donghae Open where he led from start to finish.
  • Park hails from Korea but he spends close to two months of the winter season in Thailand to take advantage of the warm weather to practice.
  • Jazz Janewattananond claimed his second Asian Tour title on home soil at the Queen’s Cup in July that was held at Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club for the first time.
  • The Thai has enjoyed one win and three top-10 finishes and has only missed two cuts in his last eight appearances at the Queen’s Cup.
  • Jazz has successfully defended his title before on the All Thailand Golf Tour in 2017, but this week will be the first time he will defend a title on the region’s premier Tour.
  • Sihwan Kim sits in eighth place on the Habitat for Humanity Standings with a current haul of US$362,883.
  • Kim came through Asian Tour Qualifying School in 2017 and kept his card for the 2018 season after finishing in 55th place on the Merit standings.
  • Playing in only his second season on Tour, he has already claimed five top-five finishes this year including a runner-up finish in Chinese Taipei in October.

Players’ Quotes:

Sanghyun Park (Kor)

I love Thailand very much and conditions are great this week so I am hoping for a good showing. Two more games for me this season and I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself and I just want to do my best.

Last week in Hong Kong was unfortunate for me but I look at it as a week off golf to just recuperate and get some rest. My travel plans have been so hectic so it was nice to get a bit of a break. This has been a great season for me with two wins in a single season. I just want to end the year on a good note and overtaking the top spot will be a nice bonus. Right now, I am 118th on the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) so my main goal for the next two events is to improve on that and get myself inside the top-100.

Sihwan Kim (Usa)

I am pretty satisfied with how my season has been going, hopefully I can finish on a good note. Two more tournaments till the end of the season and I am going to very aggressive. I have had enough top-five finishes this year that has put me in a good position on the Habitat for Humanity Standings. I have come close so many times this season and I really just need a win to end the season well.

I played alright last week but I struggled to finish well on the last day. I am playing good but I just need to start make some putts. Honestly, I am feeling pretty tired towards the end of the season and have been playing a lot of golf so I just need to keep my momentum going.

It is my third time in Thailand this year and I finished well at the Queen’s cup in July. I’m really just going to focus on my putting this week especially inside 10-feet. If I make some putts here, I know it will be a good week for me.

Jazz Janewattananond (Tha)

It is my first time defending a title on the Asian Tour. It is a pretty weird feeling because this is a new golf course and I have never played on this course before. A lot of Thai golfers have an advantage this week because I know a lot of Thais practice here. It is good that this event is being held here so it gives a lot of the local boys a bit of an advantage to try and keep their cards for next year.

This is a pretty scorable golf course, right in the middle of the city. The conditions are great and I think the key for this week will come down to putting.

I went to see my coach a couple of weeks back and have been making a lot of changes. Honestly last week I was just too focused on my swing changes and trying to settle into my new swing. I understand that practice takes time and tournament golf is the best practice you can have. So, I won’t put too much pressure on myself this week and follow the plan I have set for myself.


Published on November 25, 2018

Melbourne, November 25: Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry lifted the first title for Belgium after cruising to a three-shot victory while Korea emerged as the best-placed Asian team in tied-sixth position at the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf on Sunday.

Childhood friends Pieters and Detry, who started the day with a five-shot advantage, continued their formidable partnership as they closed with a four-under-par 68 in the final round foursomes to cap a winning total of 23-under-par 265 at The Metropolitan Golf Club.

The talented duo fended off fast-charging Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith of host nation Australia, who carded a second straight 65 to share second place with Mexicans Abraham Ancer and Roberto Diaz, who fired three birdies in their closing five holes for a commendable 66.

Korean talents Byeonghun An and Siwoo Kim settled six shots back of Team Belgium following a battling 70 while India’s Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar matched the day’s efforts of Team Korea to settle for a share of 10th place at the prestigious US$7 million event.

Team China’s Li Haotong and Wu Ashun closed with a 67 to take 13th place on 277 while Thai duo Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Prom Meesawat marked their best round of the week with a 66 to finish a further shot back in tied-14th.

Malaysia’s Ben Leong and Gavin Green slipped to 22nd place following a disappointing 74 while Hideto Tanihara and Satoshi Kodaira took 23rd place for Japan after posting a 72.

Did you know?

  • Team Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry would each take home a winner’s prize purse of US$1,120,000 following their victory.
  • Belgium became the 17th different country to win the World Cup of Golf and the eighth European country to win in the last 10 editions of the event.
  • They carded matching rounds of 63s in both the fourball matches on Thursday and Saturday.
  • After dropping a shot on second, Pieters and Detry bounced back with an eagle on fourth before adding two birdies to turn in 33. They went on to trade four birdies against three bogeys on their way home to seal the victory.
  • Pieters played his second World Cup of Golf this week while Detry made his debut.
  • They were former teammates at the University of Illinois. Pieters is 26 years old while Detry is 25.
  • Team Korea of Byeonghun An and Siwoo Kim dropped a shot on the third but bounced back brilliantly with an eagle on the next before adding two more birdies to turn in 33. They would dropped another shot on their way home to sign for a 70 and grab a share of sixth place.
  • An and Kim, who averaged 25 years old, is the youngest pair amongst the six two-man Asian teams in the 28-nation team competition. Byeonghun An is 27 years old while Siwoo Kim is 23.
  • An, highest-ranked player from Korea, is a one-time winner on the European Tour while Kim has won twice on the PGA Tour. Kim is the first player from Asia to win twice on the PGA Tour before the age of 23.
  • Best result by a Korean team at the World Cup of Golf remains the fifth place finish in 1971 (Chang Sang Hahn / Seung Hak Kim) and 1982 (Chang Sang Hahn / Sang Ho Choi).
  • Team India of Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar nailed five birdies against three bogeys for their closing round of 70.
  • They hold a combined total of 16 victories on the Asian Tour, which includes three co-sanctioned wins on the European Tour.
  • Lahiri, now a regular player on the PGA Tour, is a two-time International team member of the Presidents Cup. He is also the Asian Tour Order of Merit champion in 2015.
  • Lahiri, 31, and Bhullar, 30, have represented India together in numerous team competitions since their amateur days. They featured in the Eisenhower Cup, Nomura Cup and Asian Games, delivering a team silver in 2006, before venturing almost at the same time into the play-for-pay ranks where they also represented Team Asia in the inaugural EurAsia Cup in 2013.
  • Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa’s ninth-place finish in Portugal in 2005 remains India’s best result in the prestigious event.

Players’ quotes:

Thomas Pieters (Bel)

It feels very good. It’s not something you put on your list when you’re a golfer, but, you know, I felt it this morning and I felt it while we were playing, it’s just excitement and a bit nervous. I told my mom and dad it’s been a long time since I won and this feels as good as an individual title. I’m very, very happy.

I told him on 18 when he hit that drive, I said that’s a drive of somebody that’s going to win next year, for sure. To hit a drive like that, I can tell how much adrenaline was going through his body by how far it went.

I think we’ll take a lot of confidence out of this. It’s a shame the season’s over for me now. I felt like I played really good today and both of us we played really good. Sometimes we felt the guys coming, Australia coming right behind us and we answered it with a birdie, so I think we handled the situation very well.

I told Thomas yesterday, “Let’s play like we’re two behind.”  You do that in match play any time, I think you play against somebody else. It’s just the same as the second day. I told him, you know you’re going to make a couple of bogeys, but we’ll make a lot of birdies as well just because the weather was nicer, the greens were a bit softer as well. Not much strategy‑wise we changed or nothing, no.

Bringing this thing back home, I think it will change a bit how kids look at it and they’ll have something to look up to. We had Nicolas Colsaerts to look up to. We never really got in touch with him when we were younger and I think we would have loved it.

He maybe because he had the same coach, but for me it would have been amazing to see him play.  In a couple weeks we’re doing a day with all the juniors back home and for me it’s fun to do that because I know how much I would have loved it, so that’s why we do it.

Thomas Detry (Bel)

We weren’t far away in the soccer World Cup, so it’s pretty good to bring it back. Like Thomas said, it’s not really something you put on the list, but when it happens, you qualify for it, you play for it, you play with your best mate and it’s kind of a dream come true.

There’s nothing like representing your country on the other side of the world, it’s just amazing. Our two coaches, one of my two coaches, they both played it a long time ago, but they played it and they had an amazing experience.

Being able to put our name down the list when you see the amount of good players and all the big names that were actually on the cup, it feels pretty special. We’ve known each other since we were eight or nine years old. We used to play those junior events back home.

We kind of grew up together playing regionals, practices together, and then national team together under 18, and then he went to college, he went to America and I followed him. We know each other pretty well and we’ve never got sick of each other, I guess.  Well, maybe a few times, I don’t know maybe.

It’s a dream come true to play with him.  He’s got a lot of experience, and yeah, it was very comfortable to play with a guy like that.

We tried to keep it easy, just fairways and greens. It’s such a tough format.  It can be an easy format when things go well, but I think if things go wrong, it can be really hard to find some confidence and get some momentum back.

Like this week he was hitting a lot of long shots and I wasn’t really hitting that many long shots. I think I hit two drivers today, second one was on 18, so it’s really not that many tee shots. So you’ve got to find the right balance and try to build up on that and get some confidence back on the course, it’s not easy.

Byeonghun An (Kor)

It was just close. We really didn’t have much of birdie chances today.  I think my shot wasn’t that sharp, I guess, compared to the first two rounds so didn’t really have much of a birdie chance.  The par-fives were the only chances we had.

Overall, it’s been a decent week. I think there are a lot of great teams out there and to finish inside top‑10 is quite nice. We obviously wanted to do better, but it’s golf, we just didn’t have the best day.

It’s definitely a better experience than the last time I played the World Cup. I played better and he played pretty good this week as well. A little disadvantage having different balls, I guess, whereas other guys have a similar golf ball.

That’s why I struggled with the short game a little bit this week. It’s a disadvantage, but we did pretty well, considering that. Hopefully, I’ll be able to represent my country again in two years’ time.

Siwoo Kim (Kor)

We did pretty good to finish inside top‑10. We didn’t manage to give ourselves a lot of chances today but overall, it’s a good week. This is my last event of the year. I’m looking forward to getting some good rest before the next season starts.

Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind)

Anirban’s our star man today, he was full of energy. I mean, I was, too, I thought so, but he woke me up on the sixth hole and I think before that I was kind of lazy, a lot of lazy swings. But thanks to Anirban, he was the one who was helping the scores.

Other than that, I think pretty disappointed with our finish although things started to get better on the back nine.  I had a few good shots and Anirban, of course, holed a lot of good putts.

It was just towards the end there that we were expecting a few more birdies. I mean, it happens in this kind of format, it’s not easy.

Anirban Lahiri (Ind)

If I were to sum it up, it’s been a bad weekend. I think we played really well Thursday, Friday without a doubt, a lot of positives there. Yesterday really was the day that both of us played quite poorly, and yesterday was the day that we kind of got ourselves out of contention. The effort was there.

Today we both came out and we wanted to go low. The golf course is set up for scoring, quite different from Friday. But sometimes in foursomes, you know, if you’re not both on top of your A‑game, you’re not going to shoot those really low scores.

I think we both really enjoyed ourselves.  We gelled together really well.  We were talking about it, it’s been maybe four or five years since the Eurasia Cup that we teamed last time, so it was a good reunion.  I think we enjoyed ourselves.

Definitely feel like we let it get away from us on the weekend. We should have at least been in there with an outside chance today and we weren’t, so that’s where the disappointment is.

I’m going to go home for a couple of weeks and I’ll play the Indonesian Masters. I’m looking forward to, you know, coming back and playing on the Asian Tour. It’s been a long time. That will be my last event of the year.


Published on

Hong Kong, November 25: England’s Aaron Rai battled through a rain-soaked day to prevail over compatriot Matthew Fitzpatrick by signing for a one-under-par 69 to win the HONMA Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi by one-shot on Sunday.

Despite holding an overnight six-shot lead, victory at the Hong Kong Golf Club was never going to be a straight forward affair especially from a fast-charging Fitzpatrick, who was determined to put a dent to Rai’s title hopes.

Fitzpatrick stormed to the turn in 31 after reeling in three birdies including two in his opening two holes. He cut Rai’s lead to just one with a birdie on 16 but a costly bogey on 17 proved to be his undoing as he allowed Rai to open a two-shot lead heading into the final hole.

While Fitzpatrick parred the 18, the comfortable two-shot advantage that Rai enjoyed meant he could even afford to three-putt his closing hole for a winning total of 17-under-par 263.

India’s Shubhankar Sharma meanwhile extended his lead atop the Habitat for Humanity Standings after signing for a 67 to cap another commendable week by finishing tied for sixth with Spain’s Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera bello.

Did you know?

  • Prior to his win at the HONMA Hong Kong Open, Aaron Rai has won three times on the Challenge Tour and was seeking his first win on the main European Tour.
  • He broke the course record at the HONMA Hong Kong Open with a second round 61.
  • When Rai won the Kenya Open last year, his Kenya-born mother tearfully embraced him on the green. This was the first time his mother had returned to the country of her birth since she left it in 1970.
  • Rai aspired to be a racing driver when growing up.
  • He wears two gloves and meditates to keep himself calm on the course. He said he was eight when started wearing two gloves which was given to him by someone who makes them.
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick bettered his previous best finish at the Hong Kong Open in 2015 when he finished tied-third in 2015.
  • Like Fitzpatrick, Shubhankar Sharma also improved on his previous best result when he finished tied-10th at the Hong Kong Open last year.
  • Sharma won his first Asian Tour title at the Joburg Open in South Africa last December and went on to claim his second victory two months later in Malaysia.
  • Sharma has played in all four Major championships this year, following the footsteps of Jeev Milkha Singh in 2007 and Anirban Lahiri in 2015 and 2016.
  • He is the youngest Indian to do so and he was awarded the prestigious Arjuna Award from the President of India in September.

Players’ Quotes

 

Aaron Rai (Eng) Fourth round 69 (-1), Total 263 (-17)

Matt played incredible all day.  It was tough, but again, I really just tried to play the course as much as possible, rather than Matt, or anyone else who was playing well today.  I luckily managed to do that for most of the day.  It was tough considering the situation but very pleased.  Matt had been playing so well and putting so well, so I didn’t expect to see that and you don’t want to see that, but it did give me more of a cushion coming down 18, which was nice.  It’s a tough closing hole, and it’s nice to have as many shots as you can coming in.  This win is incredible.  It definitely hasn’t sunk in just yet.  Probably need a few days for that to happen, but it’s incredible to win on any tour, let alone The European Tour and let alone the Hong Kong Open.  It’s an incredible course, incredible event, very well supported.  The crowd have been amazing.  Just very grateful. My whole game was pretty solid all week.  I drove it well, which is important to get it into position.  The iron play was very consistent, very solid, and the putts, as well.  Didn’t miss too many short ones.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) Fourth round 64 (-6), Total 264 (-16)

It’s obviously disappointing on 17 there as it was such a simple bogey, but yeah, I gave it a good go.  It was always going to be tough to beat him.  The last two days, he’s been very solid golf and has not given anything away, which made my life more difficult. I love this week just to start the season.  Wish it was January.  But it’s the end of the year now and I’ll have some time off and just reevaluate where I’m at and take it from there.

Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) Fourth round 67 (-3), Total 271 (-9)

Yes, I’m definitely very happy with this top-10 finish.  It got really tough out there today with the rain, and in the end I was just pleased to finish off well.  I was trying my best to stay calm and I’m really happy with the way I played.  I got off to a bad start, but the par on the last hole was very nice, so I’m very happy.  It’s obviously great to be able to extend my lead on the Habitat for Humanity standing, but again, like I said, it’s not over until it’s over.  So, we have to wait until we finish. I’m going to give Mauritius and South Africa Open a miss to get some rest but I’ll definitely, go back home and rest and just work on the things that I have to work on and hopefully everything is set for Jakarta.

Leading scores after round 4 of the Honma Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi being played at the par 70, 6710 Yards Hong Kong GC course (am – denotes amateur):

263 – Aaron Rai (ENG) 65-61-68-69.

264 – Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 70-62-68-64.

269 – Victor Perez (FRA) 71-65-66-67, Jason Scrivener (AUS) 65-69-67-68.

270 – David Drysdale (SCO) 68-69-67-66.

271 – Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP) 72-69-67-63, Shubhankar Sharma (IND) 69-68-67-67, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 70-67-64-70.

272 – Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 66-67-72-67, Kim Koivu (FIN) 69-67-69-67, Matthias Schwab (AUT) 69-69-66-68, Jake Higginbottom (AUS) 69-65-69-69, Scott Hend (AUS) 68-66-69-69.

273 – Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL) 68-68-72-65, Ashley Chesters (ENG) 68-67-71-67, Justin Harding (RSA) 69-69-67-68, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 68-68-66-71, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 69-65-66-73.

274 – Thomas Aiken (RSA) 67-71-73-63.

Ends.