April 2019 | Asian Tour

Chawrasia ready for ‘big’ test at the Volvo China Open


Shenzhen, China, April 30: India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia is hoping to regain the form that led him to six Asian Tour titles when he tees up for ‘one of his biggest tests’ at the Volvo China Open which starts on Thursday.

Chawrasia’s last victory dates back to 2017 when he last won on home soil. He has only one top-10 finish on the Asian Tour last year and missed the cut in all four events he played in the Middle East since the start of this year.

The 40-year-old, however bounced back by featuring in the weekend rounds in Malaysia and India last month and sees that as a sign of better things to come as he readies himself for the challenge at the Volvo China Open which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana is also hopeful of continuing his lightning start to his rookie season following his breakthrough in Bangladesh earlier this month.

Sadom is the record fastest Qualifying School graduate to win on the Asian Tour. He won his maiden Asian Tour title in what was only his first start on Tour after making the grade at Qualifying School last December.

Playing in the Volvo China Open for the first time as the newest Asian Tour champion, the 20-year-old is confident of taking on a strong field which features over 40 Asian Tour champions and five Order of Merit winners at the Genzon Golf Club.

Asian Tour board member Zhang Lianwei, who won the event in 2003, will continue to feature at the Volvo China Open. The Chinese veteran will be teeing up for the 25th time this week since the event was inaugurated in 1995.

Did you know?

  • S.S.P. Chawarasia’s best result at the Volvo China Open came in 2017 when he finished tied-36th.
  • Out of his six wins on the Asian Tour, Chawasia’s lone win outside India came at the Resorts World Manila Masters in 2016.
  • He finished in 83rd place on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings last year.
  • Sadom secured his 2019 Asian Tour card in his first attempt at the Qualifying School last December.
  • He turned professional at the end of 2018 and broke through on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) after claiming his first professional victory at the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation in February.
  • Sadom enjoyed an illustrious amateur career prior to joining the play-for-pay ranks. He was ranked as high as 10th position on the Official World Amateur Rankings and his amateur wins include the 2017 Malaysian Amateur Open, 2017 All Indian Amateur and the 2018 Dutch International Junior Open.
  • The Thai also won the 2017 Singha Pattaya Open on his domestic circuit as an amateur.
  • The Volvo China Open is the longest running professional golf tournament in China and is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the China Golf Association.

Ends.

 


Seongnam, Korea, April 30: Thai star Prom Meesawat will be looking to capitalise on his recent win and put up a strong performance at The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship which gets underway on Thursday.

Coming off the back of his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) victory in Brunei, Prom is brimming with confidence ahead of his campaign at the KR₩1,200,000,000 (approx. US$1,067,000) event, which will be staged at the Namseoul Country Club.

The 34-year-old Thai, who is set to make his second appearance at The Open this July, will also be spurred by good memories in his bid for a third Asian Tour title and a second one in Korea this week. He claimed his maiden win in Korea in 2006.

Rising Thai star Danthai Boonma, who had uncharacteristically missed the halfway cut last year, hopes to redeem himself with a fine performance at the fabled course, which is hosting the storied event for the 33th time this week.

Danthai, a one-time Asian Tour winner in 2015, is enjoying a brilliant run of form, having claimed two victories recently in Thailand and Japan. He won the Singha E-San Open on his local circuit in February and was triumphant on the Japan Challenge Tour two weeks ago.

Indian rookie Aadil Bedi is also raring to get his challenge underway as he hopes to cap a memorable Korean debut in the event that is jointly-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Korea Golf Association (KGA). Bedi made the grade in his first attempt at the Qualifying School last December.

Buoyed by a third-place finish on the ADT in Brunei last week, Qualifying School graduate Austen Truslow of the United States will ride high on his confidence as he acquaints himself with the country he has learnt much from in school.

The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship is the first of the three Asian Tour events to be played in Korea this season. It has been dominated by Koreans since 2005. American Mark Calcavecchia was the last foreigner to win the tournament in 2004.

The Namseoul Country Club was opened in 1971 and has been the host venue of the GS Caltex Maekyung Open since 1982 except for five occasions in 1984, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2006.

Did you know?

  • Prom Meesawat is a two-time winner on the Asian Tour. He first won in Korea in 2006 before claiming his second victory in Chinese Taipei in 2014.
  • He is nicknamed ‘Big Dolphin’ due to his burly physique and because he hails from the coast town of Hua Hin in Thailand.
  • Prom had received a sponsor’s invitation to play in the ADT Butra HeidelbergCement Brunei Championships last week. He defeated Japan’s Naoki Sekiko on the third play-off hole to win the event for his first ADT title.
  • Prom, father of two, represented Thailand for the first time at the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf last November. He partnered good friend and fellow Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
  • Prom got his season off to a great start when he secured a tied-fifth place finish at the season-opening Singapore Open in January. He also earned a coveted spot at The Open this July, thanks for his solid finish. It will be his second appearance at The Open.
  • Prom also won the 20th Singha Thailand Masters on his domestic circuit last month.
  • Danthai Boonma claimed his breakthrough victory on the Asian Tour in Singapore in 2015. He is also a one-time winner on the ADT in 2017.
  • Danthai has won twice this season, one on his domestic circuit in February and one on the Japan Challenge Tour two weeks ago. His world ranking rose from 359th at the start of the season to a current 285th position.
  • Aadil Bedi turned professional last October. He is only 18 years old.
  • Bedi came through the Qualifying School in his first attempt and secured his Asian Tour card for 2019. He is playing in his second start on Tour this season.
  • Bedi started practising and learning the initial strokes of golf when he was just four years old.
  • Throughout his 13-year amateur career, Bedi has won 171 Medals and trophies. He has also represented India in all the Elite and Major Amateur matches of the world including Asian games, British Amateur, the Australian Masters of Amateur, Singapore Amateur and Eisenhower Cup, Ireland.
  • Bedi represented India as an amateur at the 2018 Asian Games. He led the field for the first three days but eventually missed out on a podium finish on the final day, finishing in 13th place.
  • Austen Truslow of the United States topped the class at the Qualifying School last December. He is known for his one-handed chipping technique.
  • Under the influence of his father, Truslow got interested in golf when he was four and he lives in Florida.

By Olle Nordberg, Former Asian Tour and European Tour professional 

A big week ahead for a lot of Asian Tour players with concurrent events being held in China and Korea, the approximately US$2.9 million Volvo China Open and the just over US$ 1 million GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship.

Both events have a long and storied history, with the inaugural Volvo China Open played in 1995 and the GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship going all the way back to 1982.

Genzon Golf Club, Shenzhen

Volvo China Open

As the Volvo China Open has been played at a number of different courses over the years, this is only the second time the event will be played at Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen. On the previous occasion in 2014, Alexander Levy of France beat Tommy Fleetwood by four shots to capture the trophy against a world-class field that also included Francesco Molinari, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.

Last year’s champion Alexander Bjork of Sweden will be keen to the defend the trophy he won at Topwin G&CC outside of Beijing by one stroke over Adrian Otaegui, but will likely get a strong challenge from some of these players below:

  • Li Haotong (CHN)

The highest OWGR ranked player in the field at number 39, he is also a past champion of the event winning the 2016 edition by three shots. Li has had a solid start to the year, finishing second to Dustin Johnson in the Saudi International and tied ninth in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

He will be looking to become the first Chinese player to win his National Open twice.

  • Scott Hend (AUS)

The current number one player in the Habitat for Humanity Standings and winner of the recent Maybank Championship, Hend will be coming in with good form and well rested after a few weeks back home in Jacksonville, Florida.

He has had some success at Genzon GC in past European Tour events, finishing tied-fourth in the Shenzhen International in 2016 and tied-15th in the 2015 edition. Will be very familiar with the course layout and conditions, which may be an advantage against other “Asian Tour only” players.

  • Jazz Janewattananond (THA)

Having been on a hot streak since late 2018, Jazz has had seven top-5’s in his last 11 events going back to last December, including a win at the SMBC Singapore Open in January. He has risen all the way to number 72 on the OWGR and have already secured starts in the US PGA Championship in May, and The Open Championship in July.

As well as he has been playing of late, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be a contender this week yet again.

  • Alexander Levy (FRA)

Already a two-time winner of the Volvo China Open in 2017 and 2014, Levy is currently the only player to have won this event twice.

His best finish of 2019 has been a fifth-place at the Saudi International, but if the expression “horses for courses” means anything, he might prove a difficult player to beat.

Of players teeing it up this week is at Genzon GC his record is second to none: a win at the 2014 Volvo China Open, and a fourth and eight-place in the Shenzhen International here bodes well for his chances this week.

  • Jorge Campillo (ESP)

Maybe the hottest player on the European Tour at the moment, coming off a win at last week’s Trophee Hassan II in Morocco. He also has a third-place finish at the recent Hero Indian Open, and back-to-back tied-seconds at the Oman Open and Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in early March.

Campillo also finished third in last year’s edition of the Volvo China Open, and it would not be surprising to see him better that this year.

  • David Lipsky (USA)

The 2014 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion has shown good form since late last year when he captured the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa. Finished fifth in Morocco last week and tied-tenth in the WGC- Mexico Championship which has been his best results this calendar year.

Lipsky was also in good position to win last month’s Maybank Championship, sitting in second place after three rounds before falling back with a final round 74.

He also has good knowledge of the course this week, having finished tied-fifth in the 2017 edition of the Shenzhen International.

Namseoul Country Club, 18th green

GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship

The GS Caltex Maykyung Open Golf Championship is one of those tournaments that has almost exclusively been held at the same course in its whole history. It has only ventured elsewhere on a few occasions since its inception in 1982 and has been held at Namseoul Country Club since 2006.

An astounding fact about the event is that no foreign-born player has won at Namseoul Country Club since Brandt Jobe did so in 1995, a full 24 years.

Because of this fact alone, the Korean players will remain heavy favorites this week and none more so then than the defending champion Sanghyun Park.

The 2018 Asian Tour Rookie of the Year holds an impeccable record in the GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship. In the last five editions Park has won the event twice (2016 & 2018), finished Runner-Up (2014) and tied-third (2017).

While he will be trying to become the first three-time winner of the event, there is at least a few more home-grown stars likely among those who will try to try to deny him that honor:

  • Sanghee Lee (KOR)

The winner of this event in 2017, Lee finished his Japan Tour season strongly in 2018, with three top-10s in his last four events and is currently ranked number 255 on the OWGR. In addition to his win here in 2017, he also finished tied-fifth in 2018, and tied-seventh in 2016.

  • Kyungjun Moon (KOR)

Having won here in 2015, finished runner-up in 2017, and sixth in 2016, Moon certainly has an affinity for the course. Having graduated from the Asian Tour Q-School in December last year, he will have a chance to leverage one of his favorite tour-stops into securing his playing rights for the 2020 Asian Tour season.

  • Doyeob Mun (KOR)

Opened his 2019 campaign in great fashion by finishing tied-fifth in the SMBC Singapore Open, thereby securing his place in The Open Championship field at Royal Portrush in July. Mun also had a good year in 2018 and finished third on the KPGA Tour money list, in a season that included a win in the 61st KPGA Championship, and three more top-5s on the KPGA and Asian Tours.

Of course, there are other in-form players wanting to get their hands on the trophy, and the winners-jacket that comes along with. Among the top candidates are these players below:

Prom Meesawat of Thailand

  • Prom Meesawat (THA)

Just coming off a win at last week’s Butra Heidelberg Cement Brunei Championships ADT event in Brunei, Prom has had a good start to his 2019 season. Starting the year by finishing tied-fifth at the SMBC Singapore Open and qualifying for The Open Championship, Prom also won the Singha Thailand Masters on the All Thailand Golf Tour in March.

He has won in Korea previously, taking home the trophy at the 2006 SK Telecom Open.

  • Chikkarangappa S. (IND)

Already a two-time winner on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) in 2019, the most recent victory only two weeks ago at the Delhi-NCR Open Golf Championship, he also finished tied-tenth at the Hero Indian Open and inside the top-20 at both the Maybank Championship and Magical Kenya Open.

Very much due for his first Asian tour victory soon.


Sentosa, Singapore, April 26: The Asian Tour will head to East Asia where an exciting run of events in China, Korea and Japan is poised to reignite the Order of Merit battle after a three-week break.

The Volvo China Open will be staged concurrently with The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship next week. The two events will take place at the Genzon Golf Club, Shenzhen and Namseoul Country Club, Seoul respectively.

Close to US$4 million in total prize purse will be on offer at both the Volvo China Open and GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship which are celebrating its 25th and 38th editions respectively.

The Tour will then move to the Land of the Rising Sun for the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup, which was founded in 1973 but co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) since 2014.

Australia’s Scott Hend, who will be teeing up at the Volvo China Open, took over pole position on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity standings after his memorable victory at the Maybank Championship last month and has already declared his intentions to win the Order of Merit crown again.

The 45-year-old became the first Australian to clinch the merit title in 2016 and is the fourth player after Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant, Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng to record 10 wins or more on the Asian Tour.

“I’m leading the Asian Tour Order of Merit at the moment and it gives me a good chance to win it again. It’ll be another fantastic achievement and I would like to do it again,” said Hend.

Korea’s Sanghyun Park will be another player to look out for as he returns as the defending champion for The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship.

Park enjoyed a memorable 2018 season when he finished second on the Habitat for Humanity Standings with over half a million (US$) in earnings and was also named the Asian Tour Rookie of the Year.

The 36-year-old Korean might have missed the cuts in his first two events on the Asian Tour this season, but with the home event featuring early on the Tour’s schedule again, Park is hopeful of restoring some form of self-belief on home soil.

“Winning the Maekyung Open last year changed my plans for the rest of the season. As it came early in the season, it gave me a lot of confidence and I guess that was what led me to three wins last season,” said Park.

The Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup, which will be held at the Sobu Country Club the following week, will then be the Asian Tour’s first stop in Japan this season.

Korea’s K.T. Kim and Chinese Taipei’s Chan Shi-chang remain as the only foreign players to have won the event in 2015 and 2016.

Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka (2014), Daisuke Kataoka (2017) and Yuta Ikeda (2018) were the other winners since 2014, when the Asian Tour came onboard as a sanctioning partner of the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup.

Ends.


Seongnam, Korea, April 26: Korea’s Doyeob Mun will be looking to impress on home soil when he tees up for The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship at the Namseoul Country Club next week.

The 27-year-old Mun, playing in his second season on the Asian Tour, enjoyed a solid start to the year when he came in tied-fifth at the season-opener in Singapore. That result earned him a coveted spot at The Open where he will be making his Major debut this July.

Mun, who is also the first and only player to record an albatross on Tour this season, will be part of a strong local challenge spearheaded by defending champion Sanghyun Park at the storied event, which offers a prize purse of KR₩1,200,000,000 (approx. US$1,067,000).

“I was in Hawaii over the winter for my pre-season training. I haven’t played many tournaments so far this year actually so I felt my game was pretty rusty. But I played on my home circuit last week so I feel better now and I am ready for the season ahead,” said Mun.

Mun made the grade in his first attempt at the Qualifying School in 2018. Despite missing three cuts in eight starts, he notched a tied-fourth place result to eventually finish in 59th place on the Habitat for Humanity Standings and retained his card for 2019.

“I am definitely hoping to win on the Asian Tour. That will open up a lot of opportunities for me, like playing on the bigger Tours. Finishing inside top-60 is a must for me as well,” added Mun, who claimed his first professional title on his local circuit last year.

Speaking about his upcoming Major debut, Mun said: “I am looking forward to it. One of my goals is to play well at The Open. I was told to be prepared for the ever-changing weather and the links-style course. Hopefully my training in Hawaii will help as the conditions seemed to be pretty similar.”

Other notable players in the field include Thailand’s Prom Meesawat and Danthai Boonma, Australian duo Marcus Fraser and Jason Norris, as well as India’s Chikkarangappa S. and Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh.

The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship is the first of the three Asian Tour events to be played in Korea this season. It has been dominated by Koreans since 2005. American Mark Calcavecchia was the last foreigner to win the tournament in 2004.

The Namseoul Country Club was opened in 1971 and has been the host venue of the GS Caltex Maekyung Open since 1982 except for five occasions in 1984, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2006.

Ends.


 

This article was first published on PresidentsCup.com.

 

When an unfamiliar name popped up on the Masters Tournament leaderboard recently, almost everyone gasped with the same question – “Who is Justin Harding?”

For golf’s fervent followers in South Africa and Asia, Harding is already a familiar name thanks to a combined nine victories on the Sunshine and Asian Tours. Last month, he took another big leap forward in his career by securing his biggest win yet at the Qatar Masters on the European Tour.

The rewards for an amazing five wins over a span of 10 months have included appearances in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, the Masters and other PGA TOUR starts, including the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this week.

Ranked 712th in the world at the end of 2017, he now sits in 45th place and finds himself mixing it up with the big boys and hanging out with potential teammates for the Presidents Cup.

Justin Harding of South Africa

As a child, Harding grew up in Somerset West, South Africa and played junior golf alongside the likes of Branden Grace, a three-time Presidents Cup International Team member. Surfing was his first sporting love but once his father, a businessman, introduced him to golf, Harding was hooked and later developed into a good amateur golfer.

Strangely though, he had earned the nickname “Hack” as a junior player due to his wayward driving and a taboo that observes is to avoid playing with No. 3 golf balls.“I’ve used them a few times and wasn’t successful .… I’ve banned it,” he laughs.

This is Harding’s fifth consecutive week playing on U.S. soil but it isn’t something new as he played college golf at Lamar University in Texas where he majored in business studies. After graduating in 2010, he turned professional and returned home to cut his professional teeth where he would later win the first of his seven titles later that year.

At the Masters, the unassuming South African didn’t hack it around as he produced a measured performance to finish a commendable T12 which guaranteed a return trip in 2020. It also made the golfing world sit up and take notice of his talent.

Justin Harding of South Africa

Grace, who is teaming up with Harding in the Zurich Classic, isn’t surprised to see Harding showing up on golf’s biggest stage. “He’s very sneaky and streaky,” said Grace.

“He’s always been like that. That’s why he’s got the nickname ‘Hack’. He’s not always as straight off the tee but he gets it going. He’s really good with wedges and a putter in his hand, he’s really deadly and that’s what you need out here. He’s a hell of a grinder.

“I’ve known Justin for like forever. Obviously when you turn pro and you go your separate ways … but it’s nice to be able to get together now and play on the big scene together. He’s a great golfer and obviously we all know the last two years that he’s had, and it’s great to have him out here playing.”

Harding’s recent success has made him a genuine contender to qualify for the International Team for the Presidents Cup against the United States at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Australia from December 9-15. With countryman and idol, Ernie Els captaining of the squad, Harding hopes to book his seat on the plane to Australia.

As a 17-year-old, he was amongst the throngs of fans gathered at Fancourt when South Africa hosted the Presidents Cup in 2003. There, he witnessed the historic showdown up close where Els and Tiger Woods battled it out like gladiators in sudden-death which ended in a stalemate following three extra holes played in near darkness.

“I went up to it and watched it first-hand. Watching Tiger and Ernie going against each other in the dark was pretty special,” said Harding.

“It’s an opportunity of a life time and I like to not let it slip. There are so many really good players and the team will be strong regardless.”

Ernie Els of South Africa

Els likes what he has seen from Harding after playing several rounds together during the past year. “Incredible story,” said the South African legend. “In less than 18 months, he’s come from absolutely not having a card on the Asian Tour, to winning on the Asian Tour, winning in Europe and finishing 12th at the Masters. And he’s got a great game obviously. He can win worldwide and he’s a great wind player. He could be a great asset to our team.”

Trevor Immelman, who is one of the captain’s assistants, has followed Harding’s career closely as they hail from the same hometown. “It’s a huge thrill for me to see him really starting to break through,” said Immelman, who is a Masters champion.

“In South Africa we’ve known about him for a few years now. Guys that know him have been waiting for him to kind of find his voice, so to speak, in the international game. It’s great to see him starting to compete so well in Europe and win in Qatar and transition that game straight here to the States. I mean, his first Masters, the guy finishes tied for 12th.

“He really doesn’t have too many weaknesses, and mentally what’s exciting is he’s really tough. He wants to play well and won’t be intimidated by anybody. I think it’ll be awesome if he manages to make this team.”

Harding reveals golf drives him to excel as success or failure in the game is totally dependent on his own attitude and effort. “I was pretty sporty but I like the individual aspect of golf, figuring out the puzzle and not relying on team members. If you get further, you get more rewards for an individual,” he said.

Except for this week which is a two-man team competition, Harding is prepared to grind it out on his own over the next four months before qualifying ends in August for the eight automatic slots for the International Team.

“It’s  been a good  12  months, I’ve put up some good results and my golf is on an upward curve,” he said.

“It’s awesome I’ve made it out here on the PGA TOUR but by no means I’ve arrived. I’ve got a lot of work to do before I can put on a jersey (for the Presidents Cup).”

Ends.


Shenzhen, China, April 25: Former champion and Chinese golf’s most famous star player Li Haotong will lead the home charge when the tri-sanctioned Volvo China Open celebrates its 25th anniversary at the Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen next week.

To be staged from May 2-5, the RMB 20 million event – sanctioned by the European Tour, Asian Tour and China Golf Association – has once again attracted a strong field, which includes a clutch of former winners including Li, defending champion Alexander Bjork of Sweden, Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Scott Hend of Australia and the tournament’s only two-time winner Alexander Levy of France.

While Bjork will be looking to successfully defend the maiden European Tour title he won in impressive style 12 months earlier, he faces a challenge rich in quality from players on both Tours as well as the best golfers from the burgeoning Chinese golf landscape.

While all top ten players on the Asian Tour Order of Merit – led by Hend – will all tee it up at the Neil Haworth-designed course, the European Tour will be strongly represented by the likes of the 2011 Volvo China Open champion and Ryder Cup star Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, the current No.9 on the Race to Dubai Kurt Kitayama of the USA, and four-time European Tour winner Bernd Wiesberger from Austria, who also won the last time he played the Genzon Golf Club in 2017.

“As the 25th anniversary of the Volvo China Open is without doubt a milestone occasion in the history of China’s National Open Golf Championship, we are excited to see so many world-class players and former winners in the line-up,” said Volvo China Open Board Chairman Sven de Smet.

“With six of our last eight champions in the field – including Alexander Levy who won in 2014 and 2017 – as well as a number of great names whose names are also etched on the trophy, the tournament should be a fitting celebration not only of the tournament itself but also of the development of golf in China.

“Since the Volvo China Open became a European Tour event in 2004, we have seen two home-grown winners in the shape of Wu Ashun and Li Haotong who have subsequently gone on to win five European Tour events between them and helped promote Chinese golf on the global stage. We are delighted to share in that success and welcome them both back for the 2019 tournament.”

This year’s event will be the second Volvo China Open be staged at the Genzon Golf Club. The last time the event took up residence at the venue was for the 20th anniversary in 2014 when Levy shot 19-under-par to beat Tommy Fleetwood by four. Since then the club has become the first Chinese addition to the European Tour Properties’ world class network of destinations.

As well as enjoying a field rich in players from the top level of golf in Europe, Asia and China, the Volvo China Open will also feature a number of amateur and professional golfers who earned coveted invites after a series of International and Domestic Qualifying events, while 14-year-old Kuang Yang from Chengdu will join the field as the winner of the Volvo China Junior Match Play Championship.

In its 24-year history, the Volvo China Open has been won by 23 different players – only Levy has won it more than once – from 15 different countries.

Ends.


With lucrative events such as WGCs and Majors looming, the Official World Golf Rankings becomes all important. Here we follow the Asian Tour players that are making a charge up the rankings and their quest to play their way into these events via the OWGR.

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, currently ranked number 42 on the OWGR, is already eligible for all the above events.

 

By Olle Nordberg, Former Asian Tour and European Tour professional

 

While there was no Asian Tour event last week, four of our members recorded wins on other Tours and picked up valuable points and improving their OWGR rankings: Chikkarangappa S. on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) improving his ranking to 274 from 312, Danthai Boonma on the Japan Challenge Tour moving to number 281 from 358, Maverick Antcliff on the China Tour going to 354 from 487, and Richard T. Lee on the Korean PGA rising to 499 from 1014.

Justin Harding of South Africa

For the players battling to secure tickets to the upcoming Majors, there was not as much movement in the rankings:

  • Justin Harding (RSA)

Harding missed the cut at the RBC Heritage on the PGA TOUR and drops one spot  to number 45, but still has an excellent chance to secure an exemption to the U.S. Open which will be played at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in California from June 13-16. He needs to remain inside the top 60 on the OWGR by either May 20 or June 10, which are the cut-off dates for the exemptions.

Harding will be playing in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this week, partnering with fellow South African Branden Grace in the $7.3 million two-man team event.

  • Jazz Janewattananond (THA)

Jazz narrowly missed the cut by one shot in the Token Homemate Cup on the Japan Golf Tour (JGTO) last week. He would slide  down three spots in the rankings to 74. He looks to have secured a special invitation to the US PGA Championship at Bethpage Black in New York May 16-19 by being inside the top 100 on the OWGR till May 5.

The next important step on the OWGR for him will be breaking into the top 60 by either May 20 or June 10, for an exemption into the U.S. Open.

  • Kurt Kitayama (USA)

Kitayama did not play last week and slips three places in the rankings to number 109. His immediate challenge is to break into the top 100 and get a chance for a start in the US PGA Championship.

He will be playing in the Tropee Hassan II this week in Morocco and Volvo China Open next week, and need to make up nine places between now and the cut-off date May 5.

 

*Trophy shot of Danthai: Photo credits to Japan Golf Tour


Shenzhen, China, April 18: The Asian Tour returns to the Middle Kingdom for its first event of the year with Volvo China Open set to tee off at the Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen from May 2-5.

The Volvo China Open offers a lucrative prize purse of CN¥20,000,000 (approx. US$3,178,000) and will bring together more than 40 Tour champions from over 20 countries.

Australia’s Scott Hend, who is currently leading the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity standings, will head to the Volvo China Open as one of the genuine contenders having won his 10th Tour title in Malaysia last month.

All of Hend’s victories have come in Asia. While the Australian is highly regarded as the most successful international golfer on the Asian Tour, he believes he still has much to do to take his game up another notch.

“I am starting to get to where I want to be, I am not there yet but it is a slow progression. I’m a grinder and a fighter. It doesn’t matter how old I’m. I work hard at what I do.

“I love playing golf and it’s what I live for. I play to win and that’s what I set out to do all the time when I tee up for a tournament,” said Hend.

Hend will have his title ambitions put to test again by a stellar field led by China’s number one, Li Haotong, who is also the highest ranked player for the event, Japan’s Yuta Ikeda, Thai star Thongchai Jaidee and defending champion Alexander Bjork, who became the first Swede to lift the Volvo China Open trophy last year

Li is expected to have passionate home crowd behind him as he chases his second Volvo China Open win, which is celebrating its 25th edition this year.

The Chinese has served notice of his talent with his many other eye-catching top performances including a win in Dubai on the European Tour last year and a runner-up finish in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
“I’m more assured of myself now. I feel like the things I thought I might not be able to do can actually be achieved. I also have a sense that I am getting closer and closer to the best fields in the world,” said Li.

The Volvo China Open is the longest running professional golf tournament in China and is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the China Golf Association.

Ends.


Seongnam, Korea, April 17: Korea’s Sanghyun Park will be aiming to complete an unprecedented treble when he returns to defend his title at The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship, which will take place at the Namseoul Country Club from May 2 to 5.

Park, who turns 36 next week, shone brightly in his rookie season on the Asian Tour in 2018, capping two victories and three top-10 results to finish second on the Habitat for Humanity Standings with over half a million (US$) in earnings.

He prevailed in a thrilling four-man play-off last year to lift the trophy for the second time since the storied event was inaugurated in 1982. It was his maiden win on the region’s premier Tour as the event had returned to the Asian Tour schedule for the first time since 2009 last year.

Park, who was eventually crowned the 2018 Asian Tour Rookie of the Year, first won the Maekyung Open in 2016, also in a play-off where he defeated compatriot Soomin Lee on the second extra hole. Prior to that win, he enjoyed a runner-up finish in the 2014 edition.

Park will be part of the talented field that includes Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng, Prom Meesawat and Poom Saksansin, as well as countryman Minchel Choi at the event, which will offer an increased prize purse of KR₩1,200,000,000 (approx. US$1,067,000) this year.

“It’s the second time I am defending my title at the Maekyung Open so I am really looking forward. I like the layout at the Namseoul Country Club and I know the course pretty well. The fairways are narrow so good tee shots are key. Greens are fast and tricky too.

“It was a pretty difficult win last year, considering the fact that I had to go to the third play-off hole.  In a way, I was pretty lucky too as Junggon Hwang made a double bogey at the 18th hole, which resulted in four-way play off,” said Park, also a one-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour in 2016.

Park’s victory at the Namseoul Country Club sparked a solid run for the talent Korean as he went on to win on his local circuit the following month. He came in second a week later at the Kolon Korea Open to earn his Major debut at The Open before securing a wire-to-wire victory at the Shinhan Donghae Open in September.

“Winning the Maekyung Open last year changed my plans for the rest of the season. As it came early in the season, it gave me a lot of confidence and I guess that was what led me to three wins last season.

“I secured my Asian Tour membership early in the season and then secured my playing rights on the European Tour at the end of the season, after finishing second on the Order of Merit. It has been an amazing run,” Park added.

The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship is the first of the three Asian Tour events to be played in Korea this year. The Namseoul Country Club was opened in 1971 and has been the host venue of the GS Caltex Maekyung Open since 1982 except for five occasions in 1984, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2006.

Other players who have won the Maekyung Open more than once include Korea’s K.T. Kim (2007 and 2011), Sangho Choi (1991 and 2005) and Namsin Park (1993 and 1996).

Filipino legend Frankie Minoza and Chen Tze-chung, first player from Chinese Taipei to earn a PGA Tour card, are among the impressive list of past winners, having won the event in 1988 and 1985 respectively.

Ends.

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