Yangon, Myanmar, February 1: Asian Tour Qualifying School winner Chan Kim of the United States will lead an upbeat group of Tour graduates when they launch their first challenge for honours at the season-opening Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Alpine later this month.
Chan led a total of 41 players to earn playing rights for the 2013 Asian Tour season from Qualifying School last week and he hopes to carry his momentum into the US$300,000 event at the Royal Mingalardon Golf and Country Club from February 21 to 24.
The Korean-American will aim to follow in the footsteps of defending champion Kieran Pratt of Australia, who won the Zaykabar Myanmar Open last season after a thrilling three-way play-off straight after Qualifying School.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Asian Tour. I live in the States but even in the States, a lot of people are talking about the Asian Tour. It’s a growing tour and I’ve heard of its good reputation. Hopefully I can get something going this season!” said Kim, who was raised in Hawaii where he won the Hawaii State Amateur Stroke Play in 2007.
Highly-rated Singaporean Choo Tze Huang believes the experience of playing and making the grade at Qualifying School, which was held in Hua Hin, Thailand, will give him the extra edge in his bid to find success on the region’s elite Tour.
“We made mistakes out there (during Qualifying School) but I’m happy I gave myself a chance to make it into the top 40. I’m just pleased that I can put myself in that position. I’ll definitely have more events to play this year. I’m looking forward to getting better and I’ll try to leave a mark on the Asian Tour,” said Choo.
Lionel Weber will also make his professional debut at the Zaykabar Myanmar Open after earning his Asian Tour card as an amateur. The Frenchman is among a cosmopolitan of international stars from over 30 different nationalities playing on the Asian Tour this season.
“I’m happy to be able to play on the Asian Tour. I arrived in Hua Hin one month ago to train and get used to the playing conditions. Perhaps that’s the reason why I am playing well these past two weeks. I’ve never been here before in Asia but I do love to travel,” said the 22-year-old.
Among the other graduates who are expected to challenge for honours at the Zaykabar Myanmar Open include Rahil Gangjee of India, Rattanon Wannasrichan of Thailand, Adam Groom of Australia, Yoshinobu Tsukada of Japan and Nicholas Fung of Malaysia.
Pratt will also feature in the event alongside previous Myanmar Open champion Boonchu Ruangkit of Thailand, who finished on the bubble in the Order of Merit last season to earn full playing rights in 2013, and Tetsuji Hiratsuka of Japan, winner of the 2010 Myanmar Open.