Ecstatic Phachara shines at Thailand Golf Championship

Chonburi, Thailand: Promising young talent Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand got more than what he had bargained for when he qualified for The Open and was also handed a lifeline for his Asian Tour card after finishing sixth at the Thailand Golf Championship on Sunday.

It was definitely a week to savour for the 16-year-old when he outshone some of the tournament’s leading lights including Major winners Martin Kaymer (T7) and Bubba Watson (T15) by closing with a six-under-par 66 at the Amata Spring Country Club.

Phachara’s four-day total of 13-under-par 275 was just enough to earn him a spot at The Open next year as the Thailand Golf Championship was part of The Open Qualifying Series (OQS) where four places were offered to the leading four players who have not already qualified for the 2016 Open Championship.

“I came through the Qualifiers on Monday and I was already very happy to be given a chance to play with the top stars this week. I didn’t think so much and I surprised even myself to finish so well.

“I played without much expectations and I guess that was the key to playing so well today. I’m now overwhelmed with happiness as I get to play in The Open next year,” said Phachara.

Starting the week on 88th position on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, Phachara’s earnings of US$33,300 also moved him to 65th place on the money list, two spots off the top-63 standings, which is the final cut-off for players to retain their Tour card for 2016.

“The season hasn’t been great on the Asian Tour actually. I won once and secured a couple of top-five on the Asian Development Tour but I haven’t been able to perform on the Asian Tour.

“Hopefully this result will help me in my final push to secure for my Asian Tour card next week,” said the young Thai, who will tee off in his the final Asian Tour event in the Philippines next week.