Thongchai Welcomes Open Qualifying Series to Thailand

Open Q Series ThailandBangkok, Thailand: The Open Qualifying Series returns to Asia this week with four places in The 145th Open at Royal Troon on offer at the Thailand Golf Championship.

The leading four players, who finish in the top-12 and ties at Amata Spring Country Club and who are not already exempt, will earn a place in The Open from July 14-17.

Home favourite Thongchai Jaidee, who has made nine previous appearances at The Open and has already secured his place at Royal Troon, welcomed The Open Qualifying Series to Thailand for the second year in succession.

“It is very good that The Open Qualifying Series can come to the Thailand. It gives the Thai and Asian players a great opportunity to make it to the oldest Major of them all – The Open – which I have enjoyed playing for many years,” said the 46-year-old, who won the Porsche European Open in Germany in September and finished runner-up at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“Links golf is very special and I am happy that the Thailand Golf Championship has once again been selected for The Open Qualifying Series. It means there is a lot to play for this week.”

Thongchai joins a strong Thai contingent including Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who broke into the top-50 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time this year and has also earned an exemption for Royal Troon, as well as recent Asian Tour winners Natipong Srithong and Danthai Boonma who are both looking to make their first appearances at The Open.

Several of the world’s top players will be in pursuit of the Thailand Golf Championship trophy as well as a place in golf’s oldest and most international Major, including defending champion Lee Westwood, who is looking to earn his third Thailand Golf Championship title since the tournament was inaugurated in 2011 as well as a place at Royal Troon.

Along with Thongchai and Kiradech, nine other players in the field have secured places at The Open including Sergio Garcia, two-time Masters Tournament winner Bubba Watson and Nathan Holman who are all looking to carry forward their success from last weekend.

Garcia, the 2013 Thailand Golf Championship winner, earned his first victory in almost two years at the Ho Tram Open in Vietnam, while Watson lifted the Hero World Challenge trophy in the Bahamas. Holman prevailed at the Australian PGA Championship to top the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit and earn his place in The Open.

Also exempt for The Open is 2011 Champion Golfer of the Year and European Ryder Cup Captain Darren Clarke, 2014 US Open Champion Martin Kaymer, European Tour Rookie of the Year An Byeong-hun and 2015 British Masters champion Matthew Fitzpatrick, as well as 2015 Japan Open champion Satoshi Kodaira and Kim Kyung-Tae, who led the Japan Golf Tour money list in 2015 to earn an exemption.

China’s Jin Cheng, winner of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship,  and joint runner-up Ryan Ruffels of Australia are also in the field and are both looking to make their debuts at The Open. If Ruffels is successful in qualifying, he will join fellow Australians Matt Jones, Rod Pampling and Nick Cullen who earned their places at Royal Troon at the first event in The Open Qualifying Series last month, the Emirates Australian Open.

An additional six players joined the Thailand Golf Championship field following a pre-qualifying event at Siam Country Club in Pattaya on Monday. Thais Phachara Khongwatmai, Kwanchai Tannin and Chanat Sakulpolphaisan, Kalle Samooja and Peter Erofejeff of Finland and Malcolm Kokocinski of Sweden have all qualified to play in the championship.

Play gets underway on Thursday with the 132-player field set to be cut to the leading 65 players and ties following Friday’s second round.

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