Randhawa aims for fourth ticket to British Open

March 24th, 2008 - 12:58 pm ICT by admin  

Singapore, March 24 (IANS) Jyoti Randhawa, one of India’s most successful golfers and the highest ranked Indian in the world, launches a bid for a fourth British Open appearance this week with a firm belief that he can stamp his mark on the Major stage. The Asian Tour strongman is amongst 63 players who will tee up Tuesday for the two-day International Final Qualifying - Asia at Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong course here. Four tickets are available to The Open at Royal Birkdale, England in July.

Other top Asian Tour names who will join the chase include Thailand’s Prom Meesawat and Chinnarat Phadungsil, India’s Shiv Kapur, Filipino Juvic Pagunsan, in-form Korean teenager Noh Seung-yul and local hope Mardan Mamat.

Randhawa, Asia’s number one in 2002, has been one of the region’s top performers over the past two months where he has accumulated four top-10s and one tied 11th finish. Such is his sterling form that he has risen to a career high 70th in the world and he knows the time was right for him to feature regularly in the world’s four Majors.

“Obviously I would like to qualify for The Open. I’ve played at Sentosa before and hopefully it all comes together again so that I can qualify,” said the 35-year-old Indian, a seven-time winner on the Asian Tour.

He has played in The Open on three previous occasions, with a tied 27th at Royal Troon in 2004 being his best finish. Last season, Randhawa was first alternate at Carnoustie but he did not see any action while hopes of a good run at the US PGA Championship, the year’s final Major, fell flat as he withdrew from the first round due to illness.

“I think as you get better as a player, you need to play more in the Majors,” said Randhawa. “Playing in Europe and playing decently, I think it’s about time I go on to play in the Majors and perform remarkably.

“It’s not just about going there to make up the numbers, it’s about making your mark there. I think my game is ready for that and if I can play well, it’ll be great,” said Randhawa.

Kapur, who played at the Open in Hoylake after coming through a qualifier, is also hoping for a good result. He finished fifth at Johnnie Walker Classic despite being ill and is now charged up for Sentosa, where he was among the top 10 at the Singapore Open last year.

The supremely talented Prom will be hoping to secure his Major debut. A return to the challenging Serapong course at Sentosa brings back good memories.

“I’ve done pretty well in Sentosa before and I will be looking forward to doing well again,” said Prom, who has recorded three top-10s at the Barclays Singapore Open, which is played at the Serapong course.

“The course is very challenging as you have to hit it well from off the tee to find the fairways. You’ve got to hit it straight with your driver and I’ve somehow played well here in the past.”

Singapore’s Mardan, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, is eyeing a third Open appearance and hopes to take advantage of playing on home turf. “It’s nice that I’m at home for the qualifiers at Sentosa again. It’s a good opportunity for me to produce a solid performance.

“Sentosa is a great course and I’m in pretty good shape for the week. I am quite happy with my game and I hope to try my best,” said Mardan, who finished tied third at the inaugural Asian Tour International in Thailand Sunday.

All eyes will also be on 16-year-old Noh, who recorded his second runner-up finish of the season at the weekend. The Korean rookie has shown tremendous promise and could well challenge for one of four tickets to The Open this week.

Other prominent players who are attempting to play their way to Royal Birkdale include Malaysia’s Danny Chia and Australian trio Scott Barr, David Gleeson and Adam Groom, all whom have previously featured at the Open.

A total of 13 players from the Japan Golf Tour are also in Sentosa to compete for places in The Open.

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