Northwestern’s Chun among Open qualifiers

(Left to right) Danny Chia, Seung-Yul Noh, Hiroyuki Fujita and Eric Chun of South Korea pose with the Claret Jug after qualifying for the British Open.

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Northwestern sophomore Eric Chun qualified for the British Open Thursday at International Final Qualifying in Asia. It was an event of international golf significance, and not just because it involved a Korean native who attends an American college qualifying for a tournament in Scotland (at the Home of Golf, nonetheless) via a tournament in Malaysia.

Chun shot 67-71 to grab the fourth and final spot at Saujana Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur. Seung-yul Noh, an 18-year-old Korean who bettered K.J. Choi to win last week’s Malaysian Open, Malaysia’s Danny Chia and Japan’s Hiroyuki Fujita will join Chun at St. Andrews for this year’s British Open.

“I have never been so nervous in my life and I’m just happy it worked out well,” said Chun, who turned 20 Monday.

Chun’s accomplishment can soothe the nerves of the Asian Amateur’s organizers because it adds credibility to the event, just weeks before Chang-Won Han tees it up at Augusta National as the inaugural Asian Amateur champ.

Chun earned his spot in the Open qualifier by finishing second to Han at the inaugural Asian Amateur. Han shot 73-68 at the British Open qualifier in Malaysia to finish three shots behind Chun.

A lot is riding on Han’s Augusta performance. A poor showing, which is a possibility at Augusta for even the best players, would add fuel to the fire of critics who feel the Asian Am champ is undeserving of a precious Masters spot.

“I’m sure (Han and Chun) will perform well and continue to vindicate the decision to establish the Asian Amateur Championship,” Asian Amateur tournament director Dominic Wall said in an email.

The Asian Amateur was created last year by Augusta National, the R&A and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, and played for the first time at Mission Hills Golf Club in China.

Wall said the tournament was created for three reasons:

  • showcase the best amateur talent from Asia
  • provide a golf development initiative for the region
  • provide the opportunity for that talent to perform in major championships
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