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Chia, Blyth, Lam and Que headed for Birkdale

Malaysia’s Danny Chia earned his second appearance at the British Open after winning the International Final Qualifying – Asia with a second successive three-under-par 69 on Wednesday.

Australian Adam Blyth will join Chia at Royal Birkdale, England in July after a sparkling 66 at Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong course while Lam Chih Bing of Singapore and Filipino Angelo Que survived a thrilling play-off against Japan’s Tomohiro Kondo to earn the last two tickets.

Chia, who featured at the 2005 Open at St Andrews, produced superb birdies on the 16th and 17th holes to earn medallist honours on six-under-par 138, one shot better than Blyth who carded the day’s best round.

A jubilant Chia said: “I feel proud to be the only Malaysian at the Open. It always feels good to be in the same event with the world’s best golfers and it’ll be my goal to play well at Royal Birkdale.”

Chia, an Asian Tour regular, carded birdies on the third and 10th holes before a three-putt bogey on 11 stalled his progress. But the Malaysian produced wonderful eight iron approach shots to within three feet on the 16th and 17th holes for birdies to earn his Open slot.

“I didn’t putt well but I struck the ball good. I played within myself and made two birdies coming back when I needed them the most. It’s going to be very exciting to go back to The Open.”

After a 73 on Tuesday, Blyth produced a six-birdie round to earn his first Open appearance. “The putts just went in today,” said the 26-year-old Aussie, who had his father Steve on caddying duty.

“I played scrappy yesterday but managed to get myself into position this morning. I’m stoked to get into my first Major.”

The tall Australian turned in 34 before making a bold charge with birdies on the 11th and then three more in succession from the 15th to 17th holes. However, he endured some anxious moments on 18 where he holed a knee-trembler par putt from four feet.

“I have never been so nervous making that last putt. It was only four feet but you’re thinking about what the putt is for,” said Blyth.

Lam, Que and Kondo ended the 36-hole qualifier tied on 140 after rounds of 68, 71 and 70 respectively and needed extra time to determine the final two qualifiers. Local hope Lam, who played in his first Open at Carnoustie last year, was the first to seal his place to Royal Birkdale with a glorious birdie on the second extra hole, played over the 18th.

“It feels awesome,” said Lam. “I was so nervous and standing over the putt, my hands were just shaking. Thank God it’s over. I can’t wait to get back to the Open. It’s unbelievable to play in a Major championship. Last year was the best experience in my life and I’m looking forward to getting back there.”

Lam produced an exquisite approach to two feet on 18, which has water running down the left side of the hole. “I didn’t want to hit a shank or anything like that with my approach but managed to hit it close.”

Que will be the first Filipino since Frankie Minoza in 1998 to qualify for the Open, the year’s third Major. He earned his Major appearance in style after holing a monster 40-foot birdie putt at the fourth extra hole to snuff out Kondo’s hopes.

“I’ve been putting well and holed a few of those today. I had a similar putt during regulation but just needed to hit it harder. Luckily I holed a long one at the last,” said Que.

“It feels great as I haven’t been playing well the past two years. Finally, I’ve got a chance to play in The Open. It’s an honour for me to represent the Philippines. It’s a dream come true.”

Second round scores:

138: Danny Chia (Mas) 69-69
139: Adam Blyth (Aus) 73-66
140: Lam Chih Bing (Sin) 72-68, Angelo Que (Phi) 69-71, Tomohiro Kondo (Jpn) 70-70

(Lam and Que qualify for The Open after winning in the playoff against Kondo)

141: Lloyd Saltman (Sco) 71-70, Mardan Mamat (Sin) 74-67, Chinnarat Phadungsil (Tha) 71-70
142: David Gleeson (Aus) 75-67, Will Yanagisawa (USA) 71-71, Ben Leong (Mas) 70-72, Yasin Ali (Eng) 69-73, Han Lee (USA) 72-70, Brad Kennedy (Aus) 71-71
143: Anthony Kang (USA) 73-70, Brett Bingham (Can) 72-71, Gavin Flint (Aus) 71-72, Noh Seung-yol (Kor) 77-66
144: Prom Meesawat (Tha) 71-73, Rahil Gangjee (Ind) 77-67, Adam Groom (Aus) 75-69
145: Mars Pucay (Jpn) 72-73, Lee Sung (Kor) 73-72, David Bransdon (Aus) 73-72, Ahmad Bateman (Can) 75-70, Yoshinobu Tsukada (Jpn) 71-74
146: Chung Joon (Kor) 72-74, Unho Park (Aus) 75-71, Jason King (Jpn) 71-75, Scott Barr (Aus) 72-74
147: Tatsuhiko Ichihara (Jpn) 73-74, Rhys Davies (Wal) 78-69, Shinichi Yokoto (Jpn) 76-71, Juvic Pagunsan (Phi) 72-75, Shiv Kapur (Ind) 75-72, Takuya Taniguchi (Jpn) 73-74
148: Craig Smith (Wal) 76-72, Park Jun-won (Kor) 74-74, Sushi Ishigaki (Jpn) 74-74, Masaya Tomida (Jpn) 79-69, Ross Bain (Sco) 76-72
149: Keiichiro Fukabori (Jpn) 70-79, Akinori Tani (Jpn) 76-73, Clay Devers (USA) 82-67, Jun Kikuchi (Jpn) 74-75
150: Richard Moir (Aus) 75-75, Simon Dunn (Sco) 78-72, Bryan Saltus (USA) 74-76
151: Naoya Takemoto (Jpn) 78-73
152: Airil Rizman (Mas) 72-80
153: Zaw Moe (Myn) 75-78, Tadahiro Takayama (Jpn) 76-77, Amandeep Johl (Ind) 74-79, Olle Nordberg (Swe) 75-78
155: Soushi Tajima (Jpn) 78-77
157: Marcus Both (Aus) 77-80, S. Sivachandran (Mas) 80-77
158: Young Nam (USA) 72-86
WD: Jyoti Randhawa (Ind), Gurbaz Maan (Ind), Digvijay Singh (Ind), Tony Carolan (Aus), Antonio Lascuna (Phi)

March 26, 2008



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