Sentosa, Singapore, June 26: Last week’s Kolon Korean Open turned out to be a big event for one of Asian Tour’s fastest rising stars, and we also had members in the fields at the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour and the BMW International Open on the European Tour.
The Asian Tour looks into their movement on the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR).
The breakout star of the 2019 Asian Tour season, Jazz Janewattanond, did not disappoint his fans and followers by securing a one-stroke victory at the challenging Woo Jeong Hills Country Club in Cheonan, Korea last week.
After three solid rounds of 70, 67 and 69, Jazz found himself in the lead by two shots on seven-under-par over Songgyu Yoo of Korea on Saturday night. However, sleeping on a lead is never easy as Jazz himself admitted after the tournament.
After getting off to a great start on Sunday by being three-under-par through the first seven holes, and at one point ahead by five shots, victory seemed all but certain going into the back-nine.
The 11th hole at Woo Jeong Hills would almost prove to be his nemesis. A converted par-five playing as a par-four, it was the most difficult hole of the week at an average of 4.46, almost half a stroke over par. After a visit to the lake located left of the green with his approach, compounded by a three-putt from long range, the resulting triple-bogey by Jazz meant his lead was now cut to a single shot over Innchoon Hwang who at that time was two-under-par for the day.
The next seven holes was now going to be a grind instead of coasting in for the win. The kind of finish that can either produce some scar-tissue in case of a blown big-lead or provide a confidence-boost by recovering from a near-fatal miscue.
Instead of the former, Jazz buckled down and made clutch putts for par down the stretch, especially on the difficult 16th and 17th, and could go into the par-five 18th with a one-shot lead although he did not know it at the time.
After a drive into the left rough and a well-positioned lay-up shot, Jazz hit a perfect short wedge up to just below the hole. With a two-putt par from five feet on the 72nd hole jazz had secured his second Asian Tour win of the season, regained his lead on the Order of Merit, and risen to yet another career high of 52nd from last week’s 62nd on the OWGR.
Jazz now has four more weeks to break into the top-50 on the OWGR for an invitation to the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational July 25-28th at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. He is scheduled to play in the Dunlop SRIXON Fukushima Open on the Japan Tour (JGTO) this week, followed by the Japan PGA Championship and a week off ahead of The Open.
Justin Harding of South Africa did not play last week and slides to 49th from 47th on the latest list. He is not playing this week but has signed up for the following two weeks of Rolex Series events on the European Tour, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open, leading up the The Open next month.
He will need to remain inside the top-50 following The Open to secure a spot in the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat missed the cut at the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour and lost two places on the OWGR. He has fallen outside of the top-50 for the first time since February last year and is ranked 51st, one spot ahead of his countryman Jazz this week.
Like Harding, Kiradech is also taking this week off before the Rolex Series events and The Open, and will have a good chance to regain lost ground in the upcoming weeks.
At the BMW International, Kurt Kitayama and David Lipsky finished 21st and 26th respectively and moved to 105th and 122nd on the OWGR.
More importantly, they secured their places at The Open by being among the top five players not already exempt inside the top-20 of the Race to Dubai Rankings following the event in Munich.