Changhwa, Chinese Taipei, July 5: Local stalwart Lin Wen-tang will embark on a final campaign to secure his ticket to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro when the US$160,000 Taifong Open gets underway on Thursday.
Lin, a six-time Asian Tour winner and a double champion on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), enjoyed a tied-fifth result on the region’s premier Tour last week but it was not enough to pull him back into top-60 on the Olympic rankings, where the qualifying window closes on July 11.
Lin, who moved up to 335th on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), needs another good showing at the Taifong Golf and Country Club to possibly join compatriot Pan Cheng-tsung in Rio this August. Pan sits in 59th place while Lin remains as the first alternate on the Olympic ranking.
Lin will carry the local charge alongside homegrown talents Hung Chien-yao, Lu Wei-chih, Hsieh Chi-hsien and five-time ADT champion Chan Shih-chang at the Taifong Open, which is the 17th leg of the ADT schedule and the Tour’s third stop in Chinese Taipei this season.
ADT Order of Merit leader Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand will spearhead the elite 144-man field from over 22 countries, including compatriot and defending champion Rattanon Wannasrichan, Malaysia’s Gavin Green and Oscar Zetterwall of Sweden, in the ADT event.
Thai trio Itthipat Buranatanyarat, Poom Saksansin and Suradit Yongcharoenchai, ranked third, fourth and fifth on the money list, will also feature in the ADT showpiece alongside Asian Tour regulars Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka and Unho Park of Australia.
Lin, who turned 42 years old last week, was delighted to give himself a fighting chance to qualify for the Olympics, where golf is returning after a lapse of over 100 years.
“I am very pleased with how I played last week and it has given me a lot of confidence coming to this week. It will be a great honour to represent my home country in the Olympics but I don’t want to give myself any pressure.
“I am just going to treat this week like any other tournament. I just want to enjoy my game and I will do my best. We will see how it goes,” said Lin, who fired the week’s lowest round of eight-under-par 64 on Sunday to secure his first top-five result on the Asian Tour this season.
Placed second on the current ADT Order of Merit, the 22-year-old Green is looking forward to make his debut appearance at the Taifong Open, where he has a good chance to bid for the Order of Merit crown given the lucrative prize money on offer.
“The game’s feeling good. I thought I played good last week on the Asian Tour even though I missed the cut. It’s my first time playing this tournament and I am excited. I have heard some good things about the course so I am really looking forward to play.
“The season’s been great for me. I am enjoying it so far. I just want to keep it going for the remaining of the season and secure my Asian Tour card for next year. That’s the ultimate aim,” said the three-time ADT winner.
Ranked 56th place on the latest Olympic rankings, Green looked poised to secure his ticket to Rio after countryman Nicholas Fung suffered a near-miss for his maiden Asian Tour title and an opportunity to overtake him on the rankings last week.
“Fung played good last week but I think there’s still quite a gap between us on the world rankings. I’ve gained a lot of experiences through playing on the ADT. Without the ADT, I wouldn’t get to where I am on the Olympic rankings. It’s more competitive out here. You got to really play good to succeed. I guess that has helped me improved my game,” added Green.
The Taifong Open will also be the last event on the ADT schedule for players to boost their OWGR points and move inside the 60-man field on the Olympic rankings. The winner of the Taifong Open will take home a prize purse of US$28,000 and receive six OWGR points.
The top-five finishers on the Merit rankings at the end of this season will secure Asian Tour cards for 2017.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com.
About the Asian Development Tour
The Asian Development Tour was launched in 2010 with the aim of creating a career pathway for professional golfers in Asia. Sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the Asian Development Tour will ultimately create a new playing platform for emerging stars from across Asia and around the world. Through the Asian Tour Qualifying School, players will qualify for the Asian Development Tour and enjoy the opportunity to hone their games and talent through a secondary circuit in Asia. Designed in the same structure as the Web.com Tour in America and European Challenge Tour, the Asian Development Tour is a stepping stone to the Asian Tour and the exciting world of international golf. The Asian Development Tour has been structured to ensure the best opportunities for its members. The leading five players on the Asian Development Tour will earn coveted Asian Tour cards for the following season, ensuring a proper career pathway for aspiring professionals. All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking points.