Hua Hin, Thailand: Chang Yik-eun closed with a four-under-par 67 to claim a one-shot victory at the Asian Tour Qualifying School presented by Sports Authority of Thailand.
The 22-year-old Korean, who marked his card with six birdies against two bogeys for a winning total of 13-under 271 at Springfield Royal Country Club, was among 41 players to secure their Tour cards for the new season.
American Dodge Kemmer finished second after soaring with an eagle on the last for a closing 65 while Raphael De Sousa of Switzerland took third on 273 following a 67. Six other players, including former PGA Tour player David Lutterus of Australia, shared fourth place on 274.
Asian Development Tour (ADT) winners Masaru Takahashi of Japan and Chinese Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang also finished inside top-40 and ties, with the cut set at 281, to earn Asian Tour playing rights in 2016.
Chang, who came through last week’s first stage, was beaming with joy after enjoying a successful two-week run in what was his first attempt at the Qualifying School.
“I am feeling really excited. It’s a great way to start the year. It’s been a great run. I have been hitting the ball good and I putted well, too. I think I did very well this week given the tough conditions,” said Chang, who turned professional in 2013.
Masaru made up for the disappointment of missing the mark for the past five years after returning with the day’s best score of 63.
He had agonisingly missed out on his 2016 Asian Tour card after finishing sixth on the 2015 ADT Order of Merit, where the top-five players earned playing rights on the Asian Tour.
“I am thrilled. I didn’t expect to play so well today. I sank a lot of putts. I had a superb round. My mind was set on securing the Tour card before I came here for the Qualifying School. I really wanted to get it and I think I deserved it,” said the 29-year-old Japanese, who needed only 26 putts.
All Qualifying School entrants will be eligible to compete on the ADT, which was inaugurated in 2010 as a gateway to the Asian Tour.