Guan, Pan Attempt to Qualify for The Open

Chinese amateur prodigy Guan Tianlang, winner of the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, is part of a strong field bidding for a place in The Open Championship at Muirfield at this week’s International Final Qualifying – Asia which gets underway on Thursday.

Guan is expected to be a contender for one of the four spots available in The Open, at Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, Thailand where he won the AAC last November.

The 14 year-old is aiming to secure a place in his second major championship at The Open, which takes place from 14-21 July, after qualifying for the Masters Tournament in April.

“I have played at some professional golf tournaments before and it is always great to play with the professional golfers. I can learn so much from them and the experience of playing at the professional events. So I am looking forward to IFQ-Asia,” said Guan.

Cheng-tsung Pan of Taiwan, who finished runner-up to Guan in November and is the highest ranked Asian player in the World Amateur Golf Rankings at fifth, is joined in the field by two-time Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion, Hideki Matsuyama who became the first Japanese amateur to play in the Masters Tournament in 2011.

Matsuyama is part of a strong Japanese contingent which includes Kodai Ichihara, who qualified from IFQ-Asia last year to play in The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes, Yuta Ikeda, who played in The Open at Royal St George’s in 2011, last year’s Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open champion Masanori Kobayashi and Masamichi Ito, who turned professional in December and was last year’s Faldo Series Asia Champion.

Scotland’s James Byrne, who turned professional after helping Great Britain and Ireland win the Walker Cup in 2011 and currently plays on the Asian Tour, is plotting a return home for The Open.

Home interest in the event centres on rising Thai star Arnond Vongvanij who is eager to join countrymen Thaworn Wiratchant and Thongchai Jaidee at Muirfield. The diminutive Arnond missed out by one shot to join in the play-off for the final berth last year and hopes to make amends in the two-day qualifying event at his home course. Thaworn qualified for The Open Championship courtesy of winning the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2012 and Jaidee qualified by finishing in the top 30 in last year’s Race to Dubai.

Fellow Thai players Prom Meesawat and Kiradech Aphibarnrat will be among the hopefuls along with Indians Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri, who won last year’s qualifier, Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines. Guan Tianlang‘s compatriots Wu Ashun and Hu Mu, will also feature in the field.

Arnond’s career has been on the rise since joining the Asian Tour last year. In his first season, he claimed four top-10s including one win at the King’s Cup on home soil. He hopes to add a Major appearance to his fledging career but is wary of the strong challengers in the 78-man field.

“It is always exciting to get the chance to qualify for The Open Championship. I’m going to go into the qualifier with a thought that I have nothing to lose. I’m going to try to play well and have fun,” said the 24-year-old.

“It would be an honour to play in The Open Championship because it is the oldest Major Championship in the world. The qualifier is only two rounds so that makes things a lot harder than a four-round tournament,” said Arnond.

Siddikur was the first player from his country to play and win on the Asian Tour and he is now hoping to be the first Bangladeshi to play in The Open Championship.

“If I do qualify, the popularity of golf in Bangladesh will go to an even higher standard. The Amata Spring course is quite long but I have shot a low number there before. I’m quite confident of making it this time,” said Siddikur.

Lahiri is determined to make a swift return to The Open Championship after making his debut last season where he finished tied 31st and notched up a memorable hole-in-one in the third round.

“I think it was a breakthrough debut for me to finish as the top Asian in The Open Championship last year. Playing with the best in the game and finishing ahead of a lot of big names gave me tremendous confidence in my ability. I also gained valuable experience of playing in severe conditions on links golf courses, something that’s not common in Asia,” he said.

International Final Qualifying for The Open continues at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in South Africa on 5 and 6 March. It is followed by IFQ America at Gleneagles Country Club in Texas on 20 May and IFQ Europe at Sunningdale in England on 24 June.

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关天朗和潘政琮一同争取参加英国公开赛的资格

中国小将关天朗凭借亚太业余锦标赛的冠军将于本周四出战英国公开赛亚洲区选拔赛,争取在英格兰莫里菲尔德球场举行的英国公开赛中占一席位。

英国公开赛亚洲区的选拔赛本周将在泰国阿玛塔泉乡村俱乐部举行,而关天朗去年11月就是在这里夺得亚太业余锦标赛的冠军。因此,可以说关天朗是重返福地作战。

这名14岁的小将取得4月份美国大师赛的资格后,目标是打进第二个大满贯赛事,亦即是于7月14-21日举行的英国公开赛。

关天朗表示:“我以前曾参加过一些职业高尔夫赛事,与职业球员同场竞技感觉很好。我可以从职业球员身上以及参加职业赛事的经历中学到很多东西。我十分期待参与英国公开赛的亚洲区选拔赛。”

去年11月在亚太业余锦标赛中获得亚军的台湾球员潘政琮,现在世界业余高尔夫排名第五,成为参加英国公开赛亚洲区选拔赛中排名最高的亚洲球员。另外,曾两次在亚太业余锦标赛夺冠,第一位以业余球员出战2011年美国大师赛的日本选手松山英树也会参加本次选拔赛。

强大的日本代表队除了松山英树外,还有市原弘大。 他去年在皇家莱瑟姆圣安妮高尔夫俱乐部举办的国际选拔赛中取得资格,与池田勇太一同到皇家圣乔治俱乐部参加2011年英国公开赛。 另外, 两名猛将包括去年亚太松下公开赛的冠军小林正则和刚于12月转为职业球员, 去年费度亚洲系列赛的冠军伊藤诚道,也会一同争取资格。

苏格兰的詹姆斯.伯恩(James Byrne),在2011年入选英爱联队,帮助队伍赢得沃克杯,他现在主战亚洲巡回赛, 并计划回乡参加英国公开赛。

泰國后起之秀阿隆‧范戈万尼基(Arnond Vongvanij)将与塔旺‧威拉沧(Thaworn Wiratchant)和通昌‧賈弟(Thongchai Jaidee)一同出战英國公開賽。范戈万尼基去年以1杆只差无缘延长赛而痛失英国公开赛入场券之后, 希望今年能够在主场的资格赛中一雪前耻。 另外,2012年亚巡赛的奖金王威拉沧和去年在迪拜冲刺赛以首30名完成比赛的賈弟,符合兩項英國公開賽豁免資格,直接获得参赛资格。

其他泰国球员包括普罗姆-米萨瓦特(Prom Meesawat)和奇拉德克·阿菲邦拉(Kiradech Aphibarnrat),连同印度球员加钢杰-鲍拉(Gaganjeet Bhullar)和去年获得资格的阿尼班-拉希瑞(Anirban Lahiri), 孟加拉的斯迪库与菲律宾的米盖尔-塔布埃纳(Miguel Tabuena)一同参加资格赛。 中国除了关天朗外, 吴阿顺和胡牧也将参赛。

范戈万尼基自去年加入了亚巡赛后,他的事业发展不断提升。 在首季,他交出了4次前十名的佳绩,包括胜出在泰国举行的国王杯。他希望在他刚起飞的事业上增加亮相大满贯赛的机会, 但同时也意识到资格赛的挑战。

24岁的范戈万尼基说:“能够有机会入围英国公开赛令人感到十分兴奋。我会以平常心打选拔赛,反证我没有什么好输的,我会努力发挥出色,享受比赛。”

他续说:“能够参加英国公开赛是一个荣誉,因为它是世界上最历史悠久的大满贯赛事。选拔赛的参赛选手只需要打两轮比赛,那意味着比四轮的比赛更加困难。”

作为第一位出战亚巡赛并获得胜利的孟加拉国选手,斯迪库尔现在目标成为第一位踏上英国公开赛的孟加拉国球手。

他表示:“如果我能够入围英国公开赛,那么高尔夫在孟加拉国的普及程度将会上升至更高水平。阿玛塔温泉乡村俱乐部的球场击球距离远,但是我之前在这里也打出过好成绩。我对于这一次入围英国公开赛感到很有信心。”

去年通过选拔赛而首度角逐英国公开赛的拉西里则期待再次回到英国公开赛的赛场。他去年在英国公开赛的第三轮比赛中打出了一杆进洞,最终并列第31名完成赛事。

他说:“去年我成为英国公开赛成绩最好的亚洲选手,对于首秀的我来说是一个突破。能与高尔夫坛中最好的球手们一起比赛,而成绩更排在很多星级球星之前,这让我对自己的能力有极大的信心。我也在林克斯高尔夫球场那种严峻的比赛状况下获得了宝贵的经验,这些经验在亚洲并不常见。”

英国公开赛国际选拔赛中的非洲区选拔赛将于3月5日至6日在南非皇家约翰内斯堡和肯辛顿高尔夫球会举行。美国赛区选拔赛将于5月20日在德克萨斯州老鹰峡谷乡村俱乐部举行,而欧洲区选拔赛将于6月24日在英格兰太阳谷高尔夫俱乐部举行。

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