Golf

Sorachut shines at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage

Jan 12, 1:17 pm

Thai prospect Sorachut Hansapiban fired a bogey-free seven-under-par 64 to grab the third-round lead by three shots at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage presented by Sports Authority of Thailand on Friday.

Sorachut, who is playing in his third attempt at the Qualifying School, fired seven birdies, including one from close range on 17 and an audacious chip-in birdie on 18 in fading light, at the Rayong Green Valley Country Club for a three-day total of 11-under-par 202.

Qualifying School debutant Steven Jeffress of Australia carded a 69 to move to second place on his own while his compatriot Maverick Antcliff and Shohei Hasegawa of Japan shared third on 206 following rounds of 66 and 68 respectively.

England’s William Harrold (67), American Jesse Schutte (69) and Javier Gallegos (70) of Spain were amongst those bunched a further shot back in fifth place at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage, which will be played over five rounds (90 holes) this week.

The Final Stage of the Qualifying School, which features 243 players from over 30 different countries, is played over two courses in Rayong – the Rayong Green Valley Country Club and the St. Andrews 2000.

After 72 holes, the field will be cut to the leading 70 players and ties who will then proceed to the fifth and final round held only at the Rayong Green Valley Country Club. At the conclusion of 90 holes, the top 35 players and ties will be ranked accordingly for the 2018 season.

The third round was called off for the day at 6.20pm local time due to fading light. Nine players will return to complete their rounds at 7.10am on Saturday. The fourth and penultimate round is scheduled to start at the same time with no re-draw of the players’ groups.

Did you know?

  • Sorachut Hansapiban is hoping to be third-time lucky, after missing the grade at the Qualifying School in his last two attempts in 2016 and 2017.
  • The 27-year-old Sorachut has been plying his trade on the ADT since 2016 and has come close to winning on several occasions.
  • Sorachut needed only 26 putts around the greens for his commendable 64 today.
  • Prior to his third round 69, Steven Jeffress had returned on Friday morning to complete his second round where he signed for a 70 to grab a share of the lead with Minkyu Kim of Korea. He held a one-shot advantage heading into the third round.
  • The 42-year-old Jeffress is a former winner of the Fiji International in 2014. He hails from Taree, New South Wales in Australia and turned professional in 1999. Also won the Victorian PGA Championship in 2006.
  • Jeffress also enjoyed a commendable sixth-place finish at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth in 2017.
  • Shohei Hasegawa is playing in his second attempt at the Asian Tour Qualifying School. He had failed to make it through the first stage last year.
  • Shohei is 24 years old this year and he turned professional two years ago.

Players’ quotes:

Sorachut Hansapiban (Tha) – Third round 64 (-7) Rayong Green Valley, Total 202 (-11): “My putting was really good today. That was the key for me. I needed only 26 putts in total today. I managed to hit it close too. It’s always great to shoot a bogey-free round. I had a superb finish as well.

I chipped it in about 15 yards from the front of the green for birdie on the last. It was getting dark out there too so I am very pleased with how I finished. I just wanted to complete my round today as I didn’t want to come back tomorrow morning just to finish one hole.

I missed out on my Tour card in my last two attempts at the Qualifying School. I am glad I managed to give myself a good chance this time. I played mostly on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) in the last two years and I believe the experience has helped me in my game.

I hope to continue what I have been doing so far for the next two rounds. I will go back and have a good rest before the fourth round tomorrow. I am playing the St. Andrews 2000 course tomorrow. It’s a tougher course compared to Rayong Green Valley.

I will aim to keep the ball on the fairways and hit as many greens as I can when I tackle the St. Andrews 2000 course tomorrow.”

Steven Jeffress (Aus) – Third round 69 (-2) Rayong Green Valley, Total 205 (-8): “I played alright. I didn’t putt very well. I didn’t hole any putts, except for that 10 to 12 footer for birdie on the second hole. I was happy to finish the round today, although it was getting dark. I didn’t want to come back and play just one hole tomorrow morning.

We were rushing a bit towards the end but I didn’t do any damage to myself so I am happy. It’s been good so far. This is my first time playing in the Asian Tour Qualifying School. I have enjoyed it so far. The course is challenging. You can make birdies but also make bogeys out there.

We are starting to get more co-sanctioned events with the Asian Tour in Australia so coming to the Qualifying School this week seems like a good pathway and a logical way for me to get more playing opportunities out here.

I got to keep doing what I have been doing and hopefully make some putts tomorrow. The St. Andrews course is a bit tougher even though I had my best score of the week there. If you get it wrong, you get penalized a little bit more.”

Shohei Hasegawa (Jpn) – Third round 68 (-3) Rayong Green Valley, Total 206 (-7): “I putted well today. I sank the birdie putt from about 10 metres on the second hole. That was my longest putt today. My iron-play was pretty good too but I made some mistakes in my tee shots today.

It was quite windy today and the greens are soft. I played 26 holes today. I am feeling very tired now. I hope to get a good rest tonight and I’ll be ready for the fourth round tomorrow. This is my second time playing the Qualifying School.

I didn’t make it through the first stage last year but this year I have made it to the final stage and playing the fourth round tomorrow. I am feeling very excited and I will try my best to get my card this week.”

Jesse Schutte (Usa) – Third round 69 (-2) Rayong Green Valley, Total 207 (-6); “It was a little windy but I had fun. It was difficult out there. I shot the same score for all three rounds even though I think the St. Andrews course is much tougher. But nevertheless, it was fun playing with the good players out here.

This is my first time playing the Asian Tour Qualifying School and it has been great. It’s been really relaxing for me honestly. Everybody is nice and I like the food here. Everything is good and I am enjoying myself so far.

I started with a bogey today but bounced back strongly with three straight birdies. That was  the highlight for me today.”

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