By The Nation
The club is staging the third and final qualifying tournament for the Chinese tour and hosting 120 high-level international players representing 17 nationalities from across the globe, including seven from Thailand.
The four-day qualifying event, which runs until Friday, is an intense competition as it helps decide membership for the 2019 PGA Tour China, which was set up as part the sport’s global expansion and is in its sixth year.
The winner of the Phuket event will be eligible to play the full tour while those who finish from second to 12th will be guaranteed starts in the first six events and those down to 35th stand a chance of getting starts, too.
The Tour is thrilled to have the chance to be bringing a world-class PGA Tour-affiliated event to Phuket and also to see new talent emerging – players often go on from the to do great things in their careers.
“We have watched numerous players show up at the qualifying tournaments, and a year or two later they are playing on the Web.com Tour and the PGA Tour,” said the PGA Tour China’s Executive Director, Greg Carlson.
“It’s at the qualifiers where many of them are beginning their professional journeys, and we recognise the talent that has come through our Tour during its first four years.”
“This is also a new chapter in the history of the Tour as we stage an event away from Greater China for the first time,” Carlson continued. “Playing in Thailand will provide players with a new cultural experience, while playing a tournament on a world-class golf course in one of the great resort cities in Southeast Asia.”
Architect Paul Jansen revamped and upgraded Laguna Golf Phuket in 2014, a course built among lagoons, native water grasses and mature woodland areas. The last International Federation of PGA Tours event held at Laguna Golf Phuket was the Asian Development Tour’s 2018 Singha Laguna Phuket Open.
“Laguna Phuket is excited to welcome the PGA Tour Series – China and host their first international event outside of China. It is our honor to partner with such a prestigious brand as the PGA Tour. We are excited to showcase our integrated resort facilities to all the tour players and officials. We are sure they will enjoy a wonderful experience between the golf course at Laguna Golf Phuket and the events’ official hotel Angsana Laguna Phuket”, said Laguna Golf Group Assistant Vice President Paul Wilson.
In the past, players from Thailand have fared well on the Tour. Gunn Charoenkul has won twice, once in 2014 and once in 2016 – and last week, Somprat Rattanasuwan earned his full card by tying for third at the Series’ second Global Qualifying Tournament. This week, the seven Thai players in the field includes one local player, Thanathip Puaktes.
This season, Cheng Jin won the Mainland China Qualifying Tournament. Singapore’s Abdul Hadi won the First Global Qualifying Tournament, while South Korea’s Taeho Kim won the Second Global Qualifying Tournament last week.
In 2018, PGA TOUR Series-China Global Qualifying Tournament winners were Americans Jeffrey Kang and Joseph Winslow, with Cheng Jin capturing the Mainland China qualifier. Kang and Winslow both went on to win a Series event that year. Other Global Qualifying Tournament winners in the Series’ history are American Charlie Saxon and South Korea’s Sungpil Park (2016), Canada’s Justin Shin and American Kyle Souza (2015) and Australians David Lutterus and Alex Hawley (2014).