India’s Anirban Lahiri kept up his torrid pace
by leading the way at the International Final
Qualifying Asia Friday, earning his major debut
to The Open Championship.
In-form Lahiri, winner of the Asian Tour’s
SAIL-SBI Open in India two weeks ago, posted
rounds of 68-67 for a 36-hole total of 9-under-
par 135 at Amata Spring Country Club.
He will be joined at Royal Lytham & St
Annes this July by Prayad Marksaeng, who
closed with a 64 – the best round of the qualifier – after an opening 73. Japan’s Kodai Ichihara
and Mardan Mamat of Singapore also earned
their spots in the field. Mamat sealed the fourth
and final spot by winning a three-way playoff
against compatriot Lam Chih-Bing and Jonathan Moore of the United States.
Play was suspended for more than two-and-a-half hours due to lightning threats with the
final two groups still to finish the 36-hole event.
Amongst them was two-time Asian Amateur
Championship winner Hideki Matsuyama. The
20-year-old, who became the first Asian winner
of the Silver Cup for low amateur at last year’s
Masters, looked certain to qualify after shooting
a 6-under-par 30 over the first nine holes. However, the Japanese student came unstuck with a
double-bogey at 16th, a bogey at the 17th and a
triple-bogey seven at the 18th to finish 10th.
“It has been a childhood dream of mine.
It feels really nice. This is the third IFQ I have
come for and the last couple of times I played
pretty poorly. It is really nice that I have made
it,” said Lahiri.
Marksaeng, a six-time Asian Tour winner,
bounced back from an opening 73 courtesy of a
new driver and some good putting, including a
50-foot birdie putt from the edge of the eighth
green. He will be making his fifth appearance in
“I was very lucky today because I sank all my
long putts,” he said. “Everything just clicked for
me from my driving to my putting. It was just one
of those good days. It feels great to qualify for
The Open again and this time, I’ll be aiming to
make the cut for the first time in my career.”
Ichihara, who missed out on a fourth and
final ticket to The Open by one shot last year,
battled into third place with a flawless 69.
Mamat, playing four groups ahead of
overnight leaders Moore and Lahiri, had an
agonising three-hour wait before playing in the
play-off where he triumphed thanks to a tricky
12-foot birdie putt on the par-four 18th hole.
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