Asian aces gearing up for British Open qualifying test

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Liang Wen-chong

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With Thaworn Wiratchant's win at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship on Sept. 19, he ties the Asian Tour record for wins with 12.

BANGKOK, Thailand – Seventy-seven golfers compete this week at Amata Spring Country Club, but only four will earn spots in the 2011 British Open.

The Open Championship International Final Qualifying – Asia, a two-day, 36-hole qualifier, gets under way Thursday in Bangkok and showcases a who’s-who of Asia-Pacific region golfers.

Thais Thaworn Wiratchant and Prayad Marksaeng, who hold a combined 19 Asian Tour titles, headline the home contingent.

China’s Liang Wen-chong, ranked No. 74 in the world, will bid for a second appearance in the world’s oldest major. He will be joined by top contenders Pariya Junhasavasdikul and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, Bangladeshi Rahman Siddikur and Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat – all top-10 finishers on the Asian Tour Order of Merit last season.

Other prominent names bidding for an Open ticket include the Indian duo Shiv Kapur and Gaganjeet Bhullar, both Open veterans, Australians Scott Hend and Darren Beck and England’s Miles Tunnicliff, a winner on the European Tour.

Danny Chia, who made Malaysian history when he qualified and subsequently made the cut at the Open at St. Andrews last year, is gunning for a fourth appearance in the championship.

Many of Asia’s upcoming stars will be entered, as well, including Thais Piya Swangarunporn and Namchok Tantipokhakul and Korean Baek Seuk-hyun.

Japanese amateur Hideki Matsuyama, who won the Asian Amateur Championship on home soil last year, also will be in the qualifier. He is hoping to emulate Korean amateur Eric Chun, who qualified last year in Malaysia.

This is the first time that IFQ Asia is being held in Thailand after having been staged in Malaysia and Singapore.

The Open Championship will be July 14-17 at Royal St. George’s in southern England.

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