19th July 2019 | Asian Tour
Kiradech spearheads Asia’s charge with flawless 68 at The 148th Open
Portrush, Northern Ireland, July 18: Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat will lead the Asian charge into the second round of The 148th Open after opening with a flawless three-under-par 68 at Royal Portrush on Thursday.
Despite nursing a knee injury, the 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion showed he can still produce a worthy performance at the world’s oldest Major by taking a share of third place with 12 other players which also include Major winners like Spain’s Sergio Garcia and world number one Brooks Koepka of the United States.
“The knee’s still affecting the golf swing but I played really solid golf today as I managed to control my energy levels and pace myself really well today,” said Kiradech, who is making his sixth appearance at The Open.
Kiradech will start his second round two shots back of American leader JB Holmes, who overcame an opening bogey before firing six birdies to take the day’s honours with a 66.
“I’ve been practicing the last couple of weeks. I’ve been playing great. So actually I felt great and very confident coming in. I was hitting it great and I putted well. I wasn’t really surprised with today’s result. I mean, I played well,” said Holmes.
Korea’s Sanghyun Park, who missed the cut in his Carnoustie debut last year, showed early promise by signing for a 69 to end the day tied for 16th while India’s Shubhankar Sharma was pleased with his opening round efforts after posting a 70 to take a share of 20th place.
“It was a good day today. One-under is always a good start and I couldn’t have asked for more. The major takeaway from today was I managed to stay bogey-free as I made a few crucial par putts coming in especially the ones from 14 to 16,” said Sharma, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion.
Debutant Mikumu Horikawa of Japan along with South Africa’s Justin Harding signed for a 71 to share 42nd place while Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul mixed his card with two bogeys and a birdie to take tied-54th place along with Yosuke Asaji of Japan.
Thailand’s Prom Messawat and South Africa’s Shaun Norris are a further shot back in a share of 72nd place after returning with matching 73s.
Americans Kurt Kitayama and David Lipsky together with Thailand’s Jazz Janewattanond and Korea’s Doyeob Mun struggled with their respective 74s while Australia’s Jake McLeod, Japan’s Yuta Ikeda and Korea’s Dongkyu Jang had a day to forget when they returned with matching 76s.
| Asian Tour
Sharma passes opening test with flawless 70 at The 148th Open
Portrush, Northern Ireland, July 18: India’s Shubhankar Sharma was delighted to have passed his first round test after signing for a bogey-free one-under-par 70 at The 148th Open on Thursday.
Playing alongside world number one Brooks Koepka of the United States and 2010 champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion showed he could match up to anyone on his day with his steady performance at Royal Portrush.
“It was a good day today. One-under is always a good start and I couldn’t have asked for more. The major takeaway from today was I managed to stay bogey-free as I made a few crucial par putts coming in especially the ones from 14 to 16,” said Sharma.
The Indian marked his card with 12 straight pars starting from the first hole before he finally sank a 30-feet putt for his first and only birdie of the day at the par-three 13.
He would go on to make pars on his last five holes before signing for a 70.
“It was not easy out there and I’m pleased with myself. In the beginning I was struggling with the lines and didn’t hole too many putts. But I found my rhythm on the back-nine and managed to play some steady golf from there,” said Sharma.
Sharma also had the opportunity to reminisce with Koepka about their time in India when they both played together during the final round of the Gujarat Kensville Challenge on the European Challenge Tour in 2013.
“It was really fun playing with Brooks. We spoke about his time in India and his rides in the tuk tuk. He was not so muscular back then and a lot has changed for us in our careers since then,” said Sharma.
18th July 2019 | Asian Tour
Kiradech shows no signs of injury concern after opening with a brilliant 68 at The 148th Open
Portrush, Northern Ireland, July 18: Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat displayed no signs of injury concern as he fired his way towards the top of the leaderboard with a sparking three-under-par 68 after the first round of The 148th Open on Thursday.
While Kiradech admitted he could have done even better if he was fully fit, he was still pleased with his opening round efforts at Royal Portrush.
“The knee’s still affecting the golf swing but I played really solid golf today as I managed to control my energy levels and pace myself really well today.
“I’m not 100% fit yet and I don’t want to set any target. Overall it’s a good start and I just want to enjoy every moment at The Open as it is one of the best Majors in the world,” said Kiradech.
The world number 52, who is also the 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, got his Major campaign underway with a birdie in his second hole before carding seven straight pars to turn in 35.
Taking advantage of the favourable morning weather conditions, he then sank another birdie on the par-five 12 before closing in style by draining a monstrous birdie putt on 18 from 50 feet.
“The weather helped especially the first 14 holes. It got difficult when the winds picked up and it started to rain. But I put the ball in the right position the whole and only missed a couple of shots,” said Kiradech.
Looking ahead to the rest of the week, Kiradech knows he has to remain
level-headed to stay in contention for his Major breakthrough this week.
“I don’t have a good track record in links golf. I don’t really want to force the issue and just want to go out there and enjoy myself. The plan is to keep the ball in play and under the wind,” said Kiradech, who has missed the cuts in four of his last five previous appearances at The Open.
| Asian Tour
Tour stars all set for action at The 148th Open
Portrush, Northern Ireland, July 17: 16 Asian Tour members are ready to hit their first tee shot and get their campaign started when The 148th Open gets underway at Royal Portrush on Thursday.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat will be the first to get things going for the Asian Tour as he tees off at 9.03am in the company of England’s Ian Poulter and Korea’s Sungjae Im.
Compatriot Prom Meesawat, who is making his return to the world’s oldest Major after an eight-year absence, will follow next when he steps up to the tee at 11.15am together with the English pair of Matthew Baldwin and Jack Senior.
American Kurt Kitayama and Australia’s Jake McLeod will tee off at 12.20pm with South Africa’s Erik Van Rooyen followed by South Africa’s Shaun Norris and Korea’s Dongkyu Jang as they go off at 12.31 pm together with New Zealand’s Ryan Fox.
In what is expected to be one of the most closely followed groups, Asia’s number one Shubhankar Sharma of India will start alongside world number one Brooks Koepka of the United States and 2010 champion Louis Oosthuizen at 1.04pm.
Current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand, who missed the cut in his Carnoustie debut last year, will have another chance to redeem himself when he goes off at 1.15pm together with Billy Horschel and Aaron Wise of the United States.
David Lipsky, the 2014 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, will then tee off at 1.37pm together with Australia’s Cameron Smith and Canada’s Adam Hadwin while South Africa’s Justin Harding has the company of Scotland’s Paul Lawrie and American Chez Reavie at 1.48pm.
The opening day’s final four groups will feature Japan’s Yuta Ikeda with Mexico’s Isidro Benitez and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui at 3.43pm, followed by Korea’s Sanghyun Park with Patton Kizzire and Japan’s Yuki Inamori at 3.54pm.
Korea’s Doyeob Mun, who is making his first ever Major appearance, will start at 4.05pm with England’s Andrew Wilson and Japan’s Yoshinori Fujimoto before the day’s proceeding concludes with Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul and Japan’s Yosuke Asaji teeing off at 4.16pm together with England’s Ashton Turner.
Francesco Molinari, who became the first Italian to win a Major when he won The Open at Carnoustie last year, will begin his defence alongside Bryson DeChambeau and Adam Scott at 9.58am.
“It would be incredible to be able to hold the Claret jug again on Sunday. But I’m well aware of the challenges ahead.
“There’s a lot of guys capable this week of winning the trophy. And all I can do is do my best, try to put up a good defense and be in contention again on Sunday,” said the defending champion.
17th July 2019 | Asian Tour
Gunn awakes to a new reality at The 148th Open
Portrush, Northern Ireland, July 17: Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul is ecstatic to find himself in company of many of the world’s best players after fulfilling his life-long dream of playing in a Major.
Charoenkul, who regained his Asian Tour card by finishing second at Qualifying School last December, booked his place at The 148th Open after securing a tied-third result at the Mizuno Open, which was part of The Open Qualifying Series on the Japan Golf Tour.
It has always been a dream for the 27-year-old Thai to compete against the best players in the world and having sealed his passage to Royal Portrush, Gunn is now looking forward to a brand new experience at the year’s fourth and final Major.
“This is a dream come true for me. Of all the four Majors, I like the Masters and The Open. This is my first time playing in a Major and I’m just trying to take in all the positive vibes and enjoy the experience.
“I’m going to be playing in front of the biggest and best crowd in my entire career this week and I just want to take it all in.,” said Gunn, who has recorded 11 top-10s in 16 events across five different tours.
Gunn has not set any expectations for himself this week as his goal is to soak up the experience while hoping to calm his nerves when he steps up to the tee tomorrow.
“When I was playing my practice rounds, I was really nervous as I didn’t want to shank the ball into the grandstands where the crowd was. Even though I managed to hit it onto the fairways, I was still feeling very nervous,” said Gunn.
Being at The 148th Open has also changed much of Gunn’s outlook in life as he now hopes to take his game to the next level.
“For a long time, I have never really appreciated anything that came into my life until I was given a reality check when I was told, hey many people would take this position you are in.
To become a world-class player is going to be the next step. I got better but to be consistently good all the time is very difficult. But that’s what I’ll be been seeking to do from here,” said Gunn.
Gunn is part of the Thai quartet teeing up at The 148th Open this week. The others are Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Jazz Janewattananond and Prom Meesawat.
| Asian Tour
Sarawak Championship to make its return in August
Kuching, Malaysia, July 17: The Sarawak Championship will return for its second straight edition on the Asian Tour from August 15-18 next month.
To be staged at the Arnold Palmer-designed Damai Golf and Country Club located in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, the Sarawak Championship will once again offer a prize purse of US$300,000 this year.
Supported by the Sarawak State government, the Sarawak Championship will offer the region’s leading players, along with talented professionals from Malaysia, the opportunity to vie for top honours at the full-field Asian Tour event.
It will also be the second event to be sanctioned by the Asian Tour in Malaysia after the Maybank Championship that took place earlier in March.
As part of its efforts to promote tourism in Sarawak through the staging of the Sarawak Championship, the Sarawak State Government will be able to leverage on the Tour’s global coverage via its digital media channels and television platform to achieve that objective.
Cho Minn Thant, Asian Tour Commissioner and CEO, credited the strong support and commitment of the Sarawak State government for the return of the Sarawak Championship and is confident of raising the stature of the event even further.
“The return of the Sarawak Championship to the Asian Tour’s schedule is made possible because of the vision and commitment of the Sarawak State government. We are grateful for their support and we look forward to strengthening this partnership for many years to come.
“We are also confident of delivering another exciting week of world-class golf to the local galleries and global audience through our media platforms,” said Cho.
American John Catlin sank a clutch birdie putt on the last hole to win by one shot for his second Asian Tour title at the inaugural Sarawak Championship last July.
He would go on to claim his third title in Chinese Taipei three months later and become only the 10th player in the Tour’s history to win three titles in a single season.
Catlin’s outstanding breakout year also saw him clinch the Players’ Player of the Year award at the end of the 2018 Asian Tour season.
Placed 186th on the latest Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), Catlin is set to headline the talented 150-man field from 18 countries when he defends his title at the Sarawak Championship next month.
Other notable players who will feature in the Sarawak Championship include Thai hotshots Sadom Kaewkanjana, Poom Saksansin and Prom Meesawat, as well as India’s Khalin Joshi and Ajeetesh Sandhu, all proven winners on the Asian Tour.
| Asian Tour
Jazz Janewattananond: The name, the monk, the weird one
From a family of scholars, Jazz Janewattanond calls himself the weird one.They, no doubt, call him the talented one. This is a player, who at the time of release, is the number one player on both the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour and is pushing for a spot on the President’s Cup team.
He may be in his early twenties but having turned pro just before his 15th birthday, the Thai has gone though some amazing experiences. There’s a glimpse into Thai culture, as Jazz goes into detail of his spell in a monastery and how it helped lift him from his most difficult period as a golfer.
Having made his mark in his first major in the USA, Jazz reveals some of the different ways he has heard his name, why meeting coach Pete Cowen has been so important in his rise up the world rankings and there’s the message he has for the President’s Cup captain Ernie Els.
Not forgetting the Round at the start of the year, where he took on two Ryder Cup stars in Singapore and walked away with the trophy.
16th July 2019 | Asian Tour
Sharma to reunite with Koepka at The 148th Open
Portrush, Northern Ireland, July 16: Reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Shubhankar Sharma of India will get another opportunity to play alongside world number one Brooks Koepka of the United States after being paired together in the opening round of The 148th Open which starts on Thursday.
Together with 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, the trio will tee off at 1.04pm (local time) at the Royal Portrush as they commence their quest of lifting the iconic Claret Jug at the year’s final Major.
Sharma was only 16 and playing in his first professional event when he was paired with Koepka in the final round of the Gujarat Kensville Challenge on the European Challenge Tour in 2013.
Although they did not win that event, both have since gone on to enjoy tremendous success and are expected to draw a huge crowd when they play together again this week.
“Brooks is the world number one and I’ve played with him before in India. He came for the Challenge Tour event in 2013 and I’m looking forward to playing with him again.
“Obviously there’s going to be a lot of people following us and hopefully more people back home in India will watch it too. It’s always going to be fun playing with the Major champions,” said Sharma.
Kopeka also believes it will be an enjoyable opening round as he gets to meet Sharma again after six long years.
“It was a long time ago. I haven’t spoken to him since then. It will be fun to play with him again,” said the world number one.
Sharma finished tied-51st in his Carnoustie debut last year and with his birthday falling on Sunday this week, he is hoping for an even more special celebration.
“Last year was obviously very special as I made the cut and celebrated my birthday on the third day. This time, it’ll be on the fourth day so hopefully I can make it even more special.
2018 was a standout year for Sharma who captured his second Asian Tour title at the Maybank Championship before going on to become the youngest Indian to play in all four Major Championships.
Apart from his Order of Merit win, the Indian was also conferred the prestigious Arjuna Award back home and named as the European Tour Rookie of the Year.
“It’s always tough to follow up with a good year. But I’ve made some good progress and I’m looking forward to a good spell starting with The Open this week,” said Sharma.
| Asian Tour
‘Beware of the injured golfer’ says Kiradech at The 148th Open
Portrush, Northern Ireland, July 16: Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat hopes to back up the old saying- ‘beware the injured golfer’ by playing through the pain barrier and putting up a performance he can be proud of at The 148th Open which starts on Thursday.
The decorated Thai, who won the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2013 and is also the first Thai to hold a PGA TOUR card, has been struggling with a knee injury, which is unfortunately not showing much signs of improvements.
“To be honest, my knee’s only about 50% healed. I got my limitations and I can’t really walk that much. I can’t really walk 18 holes on practice days. So I’m trying to pace myself and just play nine holes today.
“I’ve been struggling and I cannot hit a lot of balls. I cannot force myself but I’m trying to hang in there and play in every Major,” said Kiradech, who is making his sixth appearance at The Open.
While Kiradech’s knee injuries may possibly hamper his progress at Royal Portrush this week, the 29-year-old remains optimistic of a good showing as he tees off alongside England’s Ian Poulter and Korea’s Sungjae Im in the opening round of the year’s fourth and final Major.
“I’ve been struggling the past few months but I don’t want to make any excuses as I always try to play my best golf each time I tee up for a tournament.
“Having said that, it’s always exciting to be back at The Open. It’s a historic event with many great champions and good crowds. I just want to do my best this week and if I can play all four rounds, it’ll be fantastic,” said the world number 52.
Kiradech will have the company of fellow countrymen Jazz Janewattanond, Prom Meesawat and Gunn Charoenkul at The 148th Open this week and has signaled Jazz as the next big star to look out for from the Kingdom.
“Jazz is one of the best players from Thailand now and has been improving a lot the last two years. I believe it’ll not be too long before he breaks into the top-50 in the world.
“Hopefully, he can be the next Thai player to join me over in the States and I have one more friend over there,” said Kiradech.
Jazz will be seeking to validate Kiradech’s assessment of him and continue to establish himself as one of golf’s brightest stars.
The 23-year-old is currently leading the Asian Tour Order of Merit and money list on the Japan Golf Tour and announced his arrival on the world stage with a commendable tied-14 place at the PGA Championship in May, which was also the best result by a Thai at that Major.
“I know I’m in good form but it’s going to be totally different challenge this week with the course, weather conditions and the type of grass,” said Jazz.
Jazz will have the company of Americans Aaron Wise and Billy Horschel in his opening round and will be hoping to conjure the same magic that has seen him win twice on the Asian Tour this season.
“This will be the week that stands out from
the rest as we (Asian players) hardly get the chance to play links golf.
Putting form aside, hopefully we can get lucky here,” said Jazz.
| Asian Tour