18th July 2014 | IGT Challenge Tour
IGT Pro Challenge Tour players target Asia
TSHWANE, 18 July 2014 – On the back of a highly successful Race to the USA, professionals and amateurs are primed for the IGT Challenge Pro Tour’s Race to Asia that tees off at Waterkloof Golf Club on Monday.
The segment will be contested over eight 54-hole tournaments, with each tournament winner earning a spot to compete in the Asian Tour Qualifying School early next year.
The sponsorship, valued at over R350,000, includes return flights from Johannesburg to Bangkok, Asian Tour Q-School entry fees, accommodation and transport in Asia.
“Originally we planned on two Race to the USA segments and the first proved highly popular among the pros and amateurs,” said Cois du Plooy, commissioner of South Africa’s premier development Tour.
“However, in consultation with several of the major development Tours in the United States, we learned that they all wrap up in September due to the PGA Tour Qualifying School.
“We decided to go the Asian Tour Qualifying School route instead, because it makes greater sense from a development perspective to support eight players with the sponsorship.
“Players who qualify will have to chance to play more than 26 events on the Asian Tour, while any player that competes in the 2015 Asian Tour Q-School is eligible to play the Asian Development Tour (ADT), which boasts a schedule of at least 15 events.”
Du Plooy said that in the case of multiple winners, the second spot will be carried over to the last event in the series at ERPM Golf Club in September.
“We had several multiple winners during the Race to the USA, but it didn’t matter as the series ran on points and only the top two on the final Order of Merit qualified. In the Race to Asia series, we will carry multiple winner’s spots to the last event and, in the case of another multiple winner at ERMP, we will allocate the spot to the highest finisher.”
Meanwhile, Race to the USA Order of Merit winner Huyn Park from Korea and runner-up, Lean Boezaart from the Western Province, will be heading to the United States after pocketing the two qualifying spots, worth R80,000 each, in the Race to the USA.
Park shot into contention with his maiden pro win at ERPM in May and moved to the top of the rankings with his second victory at Dainfern in June. The Korean protected his number one spot with a joint runner-up finish at Irene and ties for third at Krugersdorp and the Race to the USA Final at Centurion.
In his two remaining events, Park tied for 12th in the Race to the USA Wingate and shared 17th spot at the penultimate event at Modderfontein.
“I am really excited about this opportunity,” said the 22-year-old Seoul player, who reeled in nine top 10 finishes in 16 IGT Tour starts this season in addition to his two victories.
“After I missed the cut at the Sunshine Tour Q-School, I joined the GFG Academy. My English is bad and my coach, Graeme Francis, speaks no Korean, but we have worked together really well.
“Graeme sets us targets for the season and I had to try and win at least three times and aim for top 10 finishes in at least half of the 32 tournaments.
“The season has gone better than I ever expected. I am ahead on my targets and my stroke average improved from 72.29 to 70.70. This really shows my improvement.”
Park topped the rankings with 9,925 points, while Boezaart took second, beating fellow GFG Academy stable mate Russel Franz by 700 points.
Although Franz picked up two wins in the series, Boezaart won out on consistency.
The former chartered accountant turned pro reeled in third place finishes at Dainfern and Centurion, tied for fourth at ERPM, finished joint fifth at Wingate Park and grabbed a share of sixth at Modderfontein.
“We all want to end up playing in America and this is a major stepping stone in the right direction for Huyn and I,” the 28-year-old Cape Town rookie said.
“Golf is a series of stages and going to the United States is a huge opportunity for us. You can’t put a price on how much Huyn and I will gain from this experience.”