Qualifying school graduates aim to shine at Panasonic Open India

New Delhi, March 30 (IANS) Promising graduates from the Asian Tour Qualifying School will be looking to stamp their mark when they tee off against the region’s top players at the Panasonic Open India here next week.

Korean American Chan Kim, who topped the class at Qualifying School in January, will spearhead the rookies’ charge as they fight for glory at the $300,000 Asian Tour full-field event from April 4-7.

“Earning my Asian Tour card at Qualifying School has opened many doors for me. It has given my career a huge boost and I’m very thankful for the opportunities given. Now it’s time to prove myself against the big boys,” said Chan, who will be playing in his fifth tournament at the Delhi Golf Club.

“There are a lot of good players from other countries and if you’re not on top of your game every week, it’s going to be tough to win a tournament out here. I’m just trying to prepare the best that I can,” he added.

A return to the venerable Delhi Golf Club will provide a boost for Chan as he contended at the venue during the SAIL-SBI Open earlier this month before finishing tied eighth.

France’s Lionel Weber is another promising graduate in the Panasonic Open India field as he prepares to take on home favourites Jeev Milkha Singh, Anirban Lahiri, who won his third Asian Tour title at Delhi Golf Club earlier this month and Gaganjeet Bhullar, who finished second at the Avantha Masters a fortnight ago.

The highly-rated Frenchman is among a cosmopolitan of international stars from over 30 different nationalities playing on the Asian Tour this season.

Weber, who finished tied-seventh at the season-opening event in Myanmar, is looking forward to carrying his good form on the region’s premier Tour.

“I’m happy to be able to play on the Asian Tour. I’m glad that I managed to earn my Asian Tour card at the Qualifying School. It is a brand new life for me ever since and I really hope to do well,” said the 22-year-old.

Other Asian Tour graduates expected to feature strongly at the Panasonic Open India include Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang, Richard Lee of Canada, Thomas Petersson of Sweden, Steve Lewton of England and David Lutterus of Australia.

The Panasonic Open India will also welcome the return of defending champion Digvijay Singh, who ended a 12-year barren run when he claimed his maiden Asian Tour victory last year. Two-time Asian Tour No.1 Jeev Milkha Singh will make his debut in the Panasonic Open India.

Other top contenders include Australia’s Kirean Pratt, Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera and Bangladeshi Siddikur.

The top-three players at the Panasonic Open India will be extended invitations to the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open in Osaka, Japan in September.

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