The Yeangder Tournament Players Championship (TPC) will offer potential Olympic contenders their final chance to seal their passages to Rio de Janeiro when it starts next week.
As the final Olympic qualifying event on the Asian Tour, the US$500,000 event offers players such as Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen-tang, Singapore’s Mardan Mamat and Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman their last opportunity to head to the world’s greatest sporting spectacle in August.
The trio know they need a good showing at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club to boost their world rankings and move inside top-60 on the Olympic rankings before the qualifying window closes on July 11.
Only the top 60 players are guaranteed a spot at the Olympics where golf will be making its return after a 112-year absence.
Siddikur currently sits in 55th place while Lin is the first alternate on the Olympic qualification list. Mardan, who fell out of the Olympic frame last month, will need a strong showing in Chinese Taipei to get back into top-60 and confirm his ticket to Rio.
Thanks to his second place finish in Mauritius, Siddikur moved back into the Olympic frame and is hopeful of overcoming a nagging back injury and putting up a good performance that will cement his place in Brazil.
“I thanked God that I could finish second (in Mauritius). I jumped up the Order of Merit and I also got back into the Olympic qualifying frame.
“My game is feeling much better. I’m practicing a lot. I struggled a bit a few years back but now, I’m enjoying my golf. I’m not 100% with my back problem but I’m comfortable now that I can enjoy the golf again,” said Siddikur, a two-time Asian Tour winner.
Meanwhile Lin will bank on the familiarity of playing on home soil as he searches for his seventh win on the Asian Tour, which will also boost his Olympics hopes.
“I always feel comfortable playing at home, especially with the familiar surroundings. I’ve never won the Yeangder TPC before but I hope that will change when the tournament ends on a Sunday.
“It’s also an honour to represent the country in the Olympics and I hope I can make it to Brazil,” said Lin.
Like Lin, Mardan also wants to have the honour of carrying his country’s medal hopes at the Olympics.
The Singaporean veteran will however have to seek a revival of form, where he has only one top-10 finish in Perth to show for this season so far.
“I did not play in Koh Samui last week because of flu but I’ve recovered and I’m feeling better now. I’ve not played up to expectations but I certainly believe that will change when I step up to the tee at the Yeangder TPC.
“I’m not out of the equation for the Olympics right now and anything can still happen. I can only concentrate on my own game and do my best,” said the 48-year-old Singaporean.
Past champions of the tournament, Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant (2010 and 2013) and Prom Meesawat (2014), Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wei-chih, India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar (2012) and South African Shaun Norris (2015) will all feature in the Yeangder TPC, which is celebrating its seventh edition next week.
Korean sensation Jeunghun Wang, highest ranked player in second place on the Order of Merit, will also headline the event alongside Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines and Malaysian trio Danny Chia, Gavin Green and Nicholas Fung.
The Yeangder TPC is one of two Asian Tour tournaments to be staged annually in Chinese Taipei, with the other being the Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
Established in 2010, the Yeangder Group renewed its commitment to sponsor the popular event for another three years.