MEESAWAT, HIRATSUKA, LAM AND KNUTZON EARN OPEN PLACES AT IFQ ASIA

 IFQ Asia

For Immediate Publication

MEESAWAT, HIRATSUKA, LAM AND KNUTZON EARN OPEN PLACES AT IFQ ASIA

25 February 2011, Chonburi, Thailand:Thailand’s Prom Meesawat earned his maiden appearance at The Open Championship after winning International Final Qualifying Asia on Friday at Amata Spring Country Club, near Bangkok.

A one-time Asian Tour winner, Meesawat shot a superb second-round, seven-under-par 65 for a two-day aggregate of 12-under-par 132, to accompany Japanese veteran Tetsuji Hiratsuka, Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing and American Jason Knutzon into The Open at Royal St George’s in July.

It was a welcome return to form for the former world amateur junior champion, Meesawat, whose form dipped after twice finishing in the top-10 of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit in 2006 and 2007.

“It’s my first Major. I played very good the past two days. My driving and everything else was very good. I’ve been working hard with my coach and psychologist and I need to thank them.

“My friends have been encouraging me all along when my form wasn’t good,” said the 26-year-old. “It’s a good comeback for me. It’s a good feeling. I played to my strength on this course. I knew which holes to be cautious. To qualify for the oldest Major, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Hiratsuka, whose three victories in Asia last season included two titles in Thailand, earned his second trip to The Open with a best-of-the-day 64. Fifth on the Merit rankings last year, he came home in 30, thanks to a streak of six birdies in seven holes, to book his first trip to The Open for seven years, when he finished tied-36th at Royal Troon.

“I played well despite my body condition being not so good. But on the back nine, I played fantastic golf. I hit it close with my irons for some easy birdies,” said Hiratsuka, 39. “I normally am not nervous, but today I felt a bit uneasy. I’ve not played in The Open since 2004, so it is good to qualify again.”

Lam, meanwhile, secured his third appearance with a bogey-free 67; a round which featured five birdies.

“I was meant to play Pebble Beach but I’ll go over to The Open anytime!” he explained. “Playing in The Open has been one of the highlights of my career and I’m looking forward to it again. I drove the ball really good this week and didn’t miss a fairway in two days which was the key. I think I’ll go there to enjoy the week and try to make the cut again.

“I love playing links courses. We don’t get anything like that in this part of the world and that’s how golf was meant to be played,” he added.

Knutzon, whose only Major appearance to date came at the 2003 US Open, closed with a 67, and then endured a nervous wait for the fourth and final spot with overnight leader Kodai Ichihara attempting to force a play-off. The Japanese missed his birdie chance on 18, however, and Knutzon took the Open ticket.

“I’m really excited. I’ve not played much over there [the United Kingdom] and I’m looking forward to this one. It’ll be fun as I’ve not played in the The Open before.”

The next International Final Qualifying event for The Open Championship, IFQ America, will take place at Gleneagles Country Club, Plano, Texas, on 23 May.

The 2011 Open Championship will be held at Royal St George’s on 14-17 July.

Full hole-by-hole scores from IFQ Asia are available on Opengolf.com.

Final Scores

132 - Prom Meesawat (67,65) QUALIFIED


134 - Tetsuji Hiratsuka (70,64) QUALIFIED
135 - Chih-Bing Lam (68,67) QUALIFIED
136 - Jason Knutzon (69,67) QUALIFIED
137 - Kodai Ichihara (65,72)
138 - Tony Carolan (69,69); Pariya Junhasavasdikul (68,70); Gavin Flint (68,70); Wen-Chong Liang (68,70)
139 - Hiroshi Iwata (71,68); Himmat Rai (71,68); Zaw Moe (70,69); Miles Tunnicliff (68,71); Chinnarat Phadungsil (68,71); Prayad Marksaeng (68,71); Hyung-Sung Kim (67,72); Sung-Man Lee (66,73); Shiv Kapur (66,73)
140 - Scott Barr (71,69); Pavit Tangkamolprasert (71,69); Kiradech Aphibarnrat (70,70); Udorn Duangdecha (70,70); Will Yanagisawa (69,71)
141 - Sushi Ishigaki (72,69); Hideki Matsuyama (70,71); Kyu-Tae Bae (67,74)
142 - Seuk-Hyun Baek (74,68); Rory Hie (72,70); Varut Chomchalam (70,72); Chapchai Nirat (70,72); Mardan Mamat (69,73); Yoshinobu Tsukada (68,74)
143 - Kyung-Nam Kang (74,69); Gaganjeet Bhullar (70,73); Scott Hend (69,74); Kunal Bhasin (69,74); Hirotaro Naito (69,74)
144 - Corey Harris (75,69); Quincy Quek (73,71); Marcus Both (73,71); Ben Fox (71,73); Panuphol Pittayarat (70,74); Danny Chia (69,75)
145 - Dae-Hyun Kim (75,70); Lucas Lee (74,71); Chien-Yao Hung (71,74); Naoya Takemoto (70,75)
146 - Thanyakon Khrongpha (74,72); Kwanchai Tannin (74,72); Mars Pucay (73,73); David Gleeson (72,74); Sattaya Supupramai (71,75); Piya Swangarunporn (71,75)
147 - Wisut Artjanawat (78,69); Guido van der Valk (76,71); Annop Tangkamolprasert (74,73)
148 - Darren Beck (73,75); Iain Steel (71,77)
149 - In-Choon Hwang (75,74); Pijit Petchkasem (74,75)
150 - Choengchai Panpumpo (74,76); Namchok Tantipokhakul (73,77); Takao Nogami (72,78)
151 - Thammanoon Sriroj (74,77)
152 - Jin-Ho Choi (75,77)
155 - Chawalit Plaphol (76,79)
156 - Nakul Vichitryuthasastr (74,82)
159 - Meen-Whee Kim (81,78)

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

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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