ASIAN TOUR STARS TO COMPETE FOR FOUR OPEN PLACES AT IFQ ASIA

 IFQ Asia

For Immediate Publication

ASIAN TOUR STARS TO COMPETE FOR FOUR OPEN PLACES AT IFQ ASIA

23 February 2011, Chonburi, Thailand: On Thursday 24 February, the third Open Championship International Final Qualifying event of 2011, IFQ Asia, will begin at Amata Spring Country Club, near Bangkok, Thailand. The 36-hole, two-day qualifying event will offer four berths in the 2011 Open Championship. And such is the quality of this year’s field that 25 Tour winners are amongst a 17-nation field of 77, all hoping to secure their place at Royal St George’s on 14-17 July.

Thai pair Thaworn Wiratchant and Prayad Marksaeng, who hold a combined 19 Asian Tour titles between them, will attract home support. 44-year-old Wiratchant made his first and only Major Championship appearance to date at Royal Liverpool in the 2006 Open Championship, where he finished tied-31st. Six-time Asian Tour winner Marksaeng, 45, has made three appearances at golf’s oldest Major, in 1999, 2008 and 2009.

Japanese amateur Hideki Matsuyama, who earned his place at IFQ by winning the Asian Amateur Championship at Kasumigaseki Country Club, near Tokyo, last year, will hope to emulate 2009 Asian Amateur runner-up Eric Chun of Korea, who made his Open debut at St Andrews after progressing through IFQ Asia. Should Matsuyama ensure qualification on Friday, his 19th birthday, he will have the benefit of Major Championship experience when he arrives at Sandwich, thanks to the invitation to compete in this April’s Masters Tournament he received at Kasumigaseki.

China’s first Asian Tour Order of Merit champion in 2007, Liang Wen-chong, who finished tied-eighth at last year’s PGA Championship, will be bidding for a third Open appearance. Also expected to contend are Pariya Junhasavasdikul and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman and Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat; all top-10 finishers on the Asian Tour Order of Merit last season.

Other household names aiming to book their ticket include Indian duo Shiv Kapur and Gaganjeet Bhullar, Australia’s Scott Hend and Darren Beck, and England’s Miles Tunnicliff, a European Tour winner. Danny Chia, who, at St Andrews, became the first player from Malaysia to make the cut in The Open, will also be looking to secure a fourth appearance in the Championship.

With the addition of Amata Spring, IFQ Asia will have visited three countries since International Final Qualifying was introduced in 2004. Saujana Country Club in Malaysia has staged the event on three occasions, including in 2010, while Singapore’s Sentosa Golf Club has hosted it four times.

Amata Spring opened for play in November 2005. One of Asia’s most prestigious venues, it has already hosted several international events, including a recent exhibition skins game featuring three-time Open Champion Tiger Woods. The signature hole is the 17th, a par three of 145 yards that boasts the only floating green in Asia.

Play is due to commence at 07:30 local time on both Thursday and Friday from the first and tenth tees. Live scores and stories will be published on Opengolf.com throughout the days of competition.

The full IFQ – Asia entry list and draw can be found online at Opengolf.com.

ENDS

Note to Editors

IFQ
International Final Qualifying (IFQ) events for The Open Championship were introduced in 2004 and are held on five continents to give more players from around the world the chance to gain direct entry into golf's oldest championship.

IFQ for the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George’s:

IFQ - Australasia: Kingston Heath, Melbourne, Australia, 11 January
IFQ - Africa: Royal Johannesburg & Kensington, South Africa, 19 & 20 January
IFQ - Asia: Amata Spring, Thailand, 24 & 25 February
IFQ - America: Gleneagles, Plano, Texas, USA, 23 May
IFQ - Europe: Sunningdale, Berkshire, England, 6 June

The R&A
Based in St Andrews, The R&A is golf's governing body and organiser of The Open Championship. The R&A is committed to working for golf and operates with the consent of 141 organisations from the amateur and professional game and on behalf of over 30 million golfers in 126 countries.

Further information:

Rhodri Price Assistant Director - Championships

Malcolm Booth

Assistant Director - Head of Communications

The R&A

Tel: +44 1334 460000