LARGEST IFQ – ASIA FIELD IN MALAYSIA IN SEARCH OF FOUR PLACES AT ST ANDREWS

Celebrating 150 years

For Immediate Publication

LARGEST IFQ – ASIA FIELD IN MALAYSIA IN SEARCH OF FOUR PLACES AT ST ANDREWS

8 March 2010, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: On Wednesday 10 March, 72 players from 18 nations will tee-off at Saujana Golf and Country Club, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at International Final Qualifying – Asia. The 36-hole, two-day qualifying event will offer four places in the 150th Anniversary Open Championship at St Andrews, this July.

Saujana hosted the first IFQ – Asia in 2004, and did so again in 2005 with the qualifiers earning places at St Andrews. Appropriately, therefore, in 2010 the event returns to the 6992-yard, par-72 Palm Course at Saujana after an absence of five years, with places on the Old Course at stake again. Saujana has hosted seven Malaysian Opens, as well as the 2002 World Amateur Team Championships.

Competing for a place in at St Andrews is South Korean Noh Seung-yul, who won the Malaysian Open last Sunday, edging out compatriot KJ Choi by one shot. The 18-year-old, currently lying second in the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, is joined at IFQ by Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who finished in third place at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, two strokes behind.

The highest-ranked player in the field is Hiroyuki Fujita, the current world number 80. The 40-year-old, who last played in The Open at St Andrews in 2005, leads a strong Japanese contingent containing six of the nation’s top 20 players.

The two amateurs in the field are South Koreans Han Chang-won and Eric Chun. The pair earned their places at IFQ by virtue of their performance at the inaugural Asian Amateur Championship, held on Mission Hills’ World Cup Course in China last November. As the first Asian Amateur Champion, taking the title by five strokes, Han also secured an invitation to the Masters Tournament in April, this year.

Returning to IFQ – Asia in 2010, after successfully qualifying for Turnberry at Sentosa in 2009, are India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and Terry Pilkadaris of Australia. Bhullar, 21, made his Major Championship debut on the Ayrshire coast after finishing two strokes clear of the field at IFQ. Pilkadaris will be attempting to reach his third Open Championship, building on a strong record that has seen him progress through qualifying in 2007 at IFQ – Africa, as well in 2009 in Asia.

All four of 2008’s successful IFQ – Asia competitors – Danny Chia of Malaysia, Australia’s Adam Blyth, Singaporean Lam Chih Bing and Angelo Que of the Philippines – are also in the starting field.

Play is due to commence at 07:30 local time on both Wednesday and Thursday from two tees. Live scores and stories will be published on Openg