ROOKIE HARROLD BREAKS COURSE RECORD TO LEAD AT THE ASIAN GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
Xiamen, China, November 30: Asian Tour rookie William Harrold of England exploded into life in the opening round of the KG S&H CITY Asian Golf Championship by shooting a new course record of an eight-under-par 64 to lead by four on Thursday.
The 29-year-old Harrold, who came through the Qualifying School earlier in January, rode on his imperious form to sign for a bogey-free round highlighted by eight birdies at the Kaikou Golf Club’s West course.
Thai hotshot Namchok Tantipokhakul fired five birdies against a bogey to sit in second place at the US$350,000 tournament, which marked the first event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Chinese Golf Association (CGA) in China since 2008.
A host of seven players, including the likes of local prospects Liu Yan-wei, Ye Jian-feng and Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao, shared third place following matching rounds of 69 at the Asian Golf Championship.
Players from the China Tour will be eligible to take up associate memberships with the Asian Tour, with the top-five non-exempt players from the China Tour Order of Merit at the end of the season receiving spots into the Final Stage of the 2018 Asian Tour Qualifying School.
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Harrold is playing in his first year on the Asian Tour. He earned his Asian Tour card in his third attempt at the Qualifying School earlier in January.
Harrold is leading a round on the Asian Tour for the first time in his career. His course record of 64 also marked his best round on Tour so far this season.
He is the only player in the field to return with a bogey-free round at the Kaikou Golf Club today.
The Englishman enjoyed a joint runner-up finish in his Asian Development Tour (ADT) debut at the Combiphar Players Championship in Bali last month.
Harrold hit a total of 16 greens and needed only 26 putts in his round of 64 today.
Namchok continues his quest for a maiden win on the Asian Tour. He came close at the Indonesia Open last month before settling for tied-third.
Placed 69th on the current Order of Merit, Namchok needs a good showing to break into top-60 to keep his Asian Tour card for the 2018 season.
Namchok’s name in Thailand translates to “Lucky”.
Liu Yan-wei is the highest-ranked Chinese player in the field this week. Ranked 1092nd on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) at the start of the season, the 20-year-old Liu has risen to a current 650th position, thanks to commendable results on the Asian Tour, Asian Development Tour and the European Tour this season.
Ye Jian-feng holds the record of being the youngest player at the age of 13 years and 20 days to play on the Asian Tour in 2004.
Hung Chien-yao scored one of only two eagles in the opening round. He did it at the par-4 sixth.
He is currently ranked 32nd on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, which virtually ensures his playing rights for 2018.