7th May 2019 | Asian Tour
OWGR Watch- Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup Week
With lucrative events such as WGCs and Majors looming, the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) 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 43 on the OWGR is already eligible for all the above events.
By Olle Nordberg, Former Asian Tour and European Tour professional
Last week’s dual events, the Volvo China Open and The 38th GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship, both provided some Sunday play-off drama and worthy champions.
At Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen Mikko Korhonen of Finland defeated France’s Benjamin Hebert on the first extra hole with a birdie. With this win Korhonen goes to number 84 from 121, a new career-high ranking for him.
The Namseoul Country Club in Seoul saw local favourite Taehee Lee win a hard-fought battle against recent Asian Development Tour (ADT) graduate Janne Kaske of Finland on the third play-off hole, also by making a birdie. Lee rises to a new career-high OWGR ranking of 299 from 545, while Kaske improves his position to 518 from 801.
Of the players in position to gain access to the upcoming Majors via the OWGR, Justin Harding, Jazz Janewattananond and Shaun Norris all received Special Invitations for the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black next week by being inside the top 100 at the cut-off date May 5th.
In addition to the players above, Asian Tour members Kurt Kitayama and David Lipsky were also given Invitations to the second Major of the year even though they were outside of the top-100 at the deadline.
- Justin Harding (RSA)
Harding had a week off tournament golf and remains at number 45 this week. Having already locked up his place in the PGA Championship for the second consecutive year, he also has a very good chance to secure an exemption to the US Open Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links June 13 to 16.
The qualifying criteria for OWGR exemptions is to be inside the top-60 by either May 20th or June 10th, the two cut-off dates, and Harding looks very likely to secure one of these spots.
- Jazz Janewattananond (THA)
Finishing in tied-19th place at the Volvo China Open, Jazz picks up 1.42 OWGR points and rises two places in the rankings to number 70 from 72 last week, tying his previous career high rank.
The next important step on the OWGR for him will be breaking into the top-60 for an exemption into the US Open Championship.
Jazz is not playing this week, opting instead to spend the time to get ready for the PGA Championship. A good finish there with all the OWGR points it has on offer would go a long way towards a top-60 ranking in time for the cut-off dates.
- Shaun Norris (RSA)
Currently ranked number 98 on the OWGR thanks to a very strong 2018 season that included a win in the Heiwa PGM Championship on the Japan Tour, and 11 other top 10s around the world.
Norris managed to stay just inside the top-100 at the cut-off date for the PGA Championship despite missing the cut at last week’s Volvo China Open.
This will be Norris’s first start in a Major on US soil, and he is not playing this week’s Asia-Pacific Open Diamond Cup in preparation for next week.
- Kurt Kitayama (USA)
Missing the cut at the Volvo China Open Kitayama slides four places in the rankings to 110 from 106 last week, however he still received a Special Invitation to next week’s PGA Championship which will be the first Major of his career.
Kitayama will be playing the British Masters Hosted by Tommy Fleetwood on the European Tour this week.
- David Lipsky (USA)
A tied-fifth place in China last week means Lipsky moves up five spots in the OWGR rankings to 115 from 120 the previous week. He has been playing very good golf since his win at the Alfred Dunhill Championship last December, with back-to-back top-five results in his last two events and a tied-10th in the WGC-Mexico Championship earlier in February.
Like Kitayama above, he also received a Special Invitation to next week’s PGA Championship even though he was outside the top-100 at the cut-off date and it will be his first start in this Major Championship.
Lipsky will also be playing the British Masters in Southport, England this week.