Hua Hin (Thailand): A total of 31 Indian golfers, including S. Chikka and Khalin Joshi, will feature in the Asian Tour Qualifying School that has attracted a total of 646 entries as players from across the globe vie for playing rights on the 2016 Asian Tour season. The 2016 Asian Tour Qualifying School, sponsored by the Sports Authority of Thailand, will be held over a two-week run in Thailand with the first stage starting from January 6 to 9, according to a release on Monday.
Apart from Khalin and Chikka, the likes of Shubhankar Sharma, Ashok Kumar and Vikrant Chopra will be part of the final stage, while the rest of them will tee off from the first stage.
Ranging from over 40 countries, South Korea contributes the highest number of players with 107 entries, followed by Thailand (84), United States (77), Japan (71), Australia (61), England (38), India (31), Chinese Taipei (19), Malaysia (17), Canada (12), South Africa (12), Sweden (11), Philippines (11), Singapore (10), New Zealand (10), Indonesia (8), Spain (7) and Scotland (6). Other countries include Italy (5), China (5), France (5), Zimbabwe (5), Germany (4), Denmark (4), Finland (3), Sri Lanka (3), Austria (2), Ireland (2), Myanmar (2), Switzerland (2), Brunei (1), Columbia (1), Guam (1), Hong Kong (1), Kenya (1), Monaco (1), Pakistan (1), Wales (1), Uruguay (1), Vietnam (1), Venezuela (1) and Portugal (1).
A total of 491 hopefuls will tee it up for the first stage which will be conducted across four different courses, namely the Windsor Park Golf Club in Bangkok, Springfield Royal Country Club (Course C and B), Imperial Lakeview Golf Club (Course A and B) and Imperial Lakeview Golf Club (Course C and D) in Hua Hin.
The number of players from first stage who will join 155 other players, who are already exempted in the all-important final stage, will only be decided when all players have teed off for the opening round on Wednesday. The final stage will be held at the Imperial Lakeview and Springfield Royal from January 13 to 16 where the top-40 and ties after four rounds will earn their Tour cards for the 2016 season.
Amongst the notable names in the first stage include James Byrne of Scotland, Sweden’s Malcolm Kokocinski, Thailand’s Annop Tangkamolprasert, England’s Chris Cannon, Australian Darren Tan and American Paul Harris. The Asian Tour has released the first half of its 2016 Schedule, which consists of nine exciting tournaments to be held in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Australia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Thailand, along with the Asian Development Tour’s (ADT) provisional Schedule of 22 events.
Players who compete in the 2016 Qualifying School will also be eligible to play on the ADT, which has staged a record total of 28 tournaments in 2015. The ADT will continue to offer Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points which will be vital for players fighting to qualify for the Olympic Games later this year.