Australian Jack Thompson graduated with first-class honours today at the Asian Tour Qualifying School after winning the Final Stage by two shots from countryman John Lyras and China’s Bai Zhengkai.
Thompson, a professional for just two years, marked himself down as one to keep an eye out for as he closed with a five-under-par 66 for a five-round total of 22 under.
Bai returned a 65 while Lyras, who started the day sharing the lead with Thompson, shot a 68 on a tension-filled day at Lake View Resort and Golf Club in Hua Hin, Thailand.
American Michael Maguire (65) and Ye Wocheng (69) from China shared fourth, four back from the winner.
A total of 35 players out of 77 starters today secured right of passage onto the Asian Tour this year – which promises to be the most lucrative in its history.
Nine players, tied on eight under, competed in a sudden-death play-off for the last two cards which eventually went to Thomas Power Horan from Australia and England’s Ben Jones, after they both birdied the first.
Remarkably, 24-year-old Thompson made it into this week’s event by claiming the final qualifying berth at the First Stage Qualifying Section C tournament at Blue Canyon Country Club in Phuket, Thailand, at the start of the month.
And prior to that he had not been able to practice for three weeks because of a wrist injury.
Said Thompson: “This is great, I guess it hasn’t really sunk in yet. It has been a long week, I have been here for a fair few days now, it’s a relief and it’s just nice to win. There is always concern coming into an event if you can do it or not.
“I hadn’t really had the best prep coming in. I had hurt my wrist playing a shot in the Vic PGA last year so I could only hit a bucket of balls in three weeks. It slowly got better and better. Swinging the first qualifier I had no idea, then the next round I worked it out and it carried on from there. I am just super stoked.”
Thompson’s promise first revealed itself when he won the Gippsland Super 6 Match Play in just his fifth start on the PGA Tour of Australasia in 2021 and today’s success suggests more great things are to come from the young Australian.
“I have tried a few Q Schools before and missed out so it’s really nice to have somewhere to play overseas now. I had a great group of Aussie guys here this week and that really helped,” added the Australian, who reached number 31 in the world on the amateur rankings.
It was a two-horse race between Thompson and Lyras on the last day and they were tied on 22 under with three to play. Thompson then moved one ahead with a birdie on 17 before the pressure of a marathon week finally seemed to hit them when Thompson made a bogey on the last and Lyras a double.
“It’s been a goal of mine to get a card overseas for a few years now, and to finally get that done there’s a bit of relief there for sure. It’s very exciting,” said Lyras.
“I probably looked better than I felt, you know, I was trying to win the golf tournament. I did everything I could, and the putts just didn’t go in and it was one of those days, but I feel like those days are character building. We learn so much from them, where you pressed a few decisions here and there. A few little processes that could have maybe changed here or there.
“But ultimately for someone like myself, who hasn’t really been in contention that much at any golf tournament, days like these are the ones that will hopefully spur me on to keep gaining more experience and get more comfortable in that environment.”
The 26-year-old from Sydney is something of a late starter. A self-taught golfer, he said he mainly played cricket throughout his teenage years and did not play any real competitive golf until he left school.
Said Bai: “This is great. I played Korn Ferry Tour 2020 to 2021, DP World Tour and Challenge Tour last year, and this year I’ll be trying the Asian Tour.
“Feels nice. I played well the last few days, feeling good and getting more familiar with the course and attacking more pins, and I think I had a pretty good week.”
In the US he bases himself in Orlando and said he went back to China once in 2021, had to do 28 days quarantine in a hotel, and so last year stayed on the road most of the time.
The players who unfortunately missed out on the play-off were Chinese-Taipei’s Ho Yu-cheng, American Matthew Negri, Jakraphan Premsirigorn from Thailand, England’s Jack Harrison, Korean Jonghark Kim, Japan’s Ren Yonezawa, and Justin De Los Santos from the Philippines, who birdied his last hole to get into the play-off.
In a first at the Final Stage of the Asian Tour Qualifying School, two Hong Kong players, Matthew Cheung and Taichi Kho made it through, for full results visit here.
Scores after round 5 of the The Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage 2023 being played at the par 71, 6973 Yards AB course (am – denotes amateur):
333 – Jack Thompson (AUS) 68-70-65-64-66.
335 – John Lyras (AUS) 65-69-67-66-68, Zhengkai Bai (CHN) 70-69-65-66-65.
337 – Michael Maguire (USA) 66-66-70-70-65, Wocheng Ye (CHN) 64-65-67-72-69.
339 – Sangpil Yoon (KOR) 72-71-65-67-64, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 68-69-62-71-69.
341 – Hanmil Jung (KOR) 68-66-68-72-67.
342 – Nick Paez (USA) 70-74-67-66-65, Meenwhee Kim (KOR) 69-70-69-69-65, Wang Wei-hsuan (TPE) 63-77-67-68-67, Alex Ching (USA) 68-73-67-67-67.
343 – David Hague (ENG) 67-72-73-66-65, Nick Voke (NZL) 66-73-67-73-64, Jaewoong Eom (KOR) 73-69-69-65-67, Douglas Klein (AUS) 72-65-68-69-69, Ryuichi Oiwa (JPN) 71-69-67-66-70, Gunn Charoenkul (THA) 69-67-69-66-72.
344 – Matthew Cheung (HKG) 73-67-72-68-64, Dominic Foos (GER) 70-64-71-71-68, Shunya Takeyasu (JPN) 73-67-68-68-68.
345 – Mj Viljoen (RSA) 65-70-72-70-68, Matt Sharpstene (USA) 68-71-69-72-65, Jeremy Gandon (FRA) 70-68-67-75-65, Taichi Kho (am, HKG) 65-72-69-72-67.
346 – Jack Murdoch (AUS) 71-70-69-69-67, David Drysdale (SCO) 69-69-68-73-67, Khalin Joshi (IND) 72-70-71-66-67, Seungtaek Lee (KOR) 70-67-70-71-68, Runchanapong Youprayong (am, THA) 65-72-68-72-69, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 69-69-67-75-66, Davis Love IV (USA) 70-70-62-72-72, Kartik Sharma (IND) 69-69-68-66-74.
347 – Thomas Power Horan (AUS) 70-73-70-67-67, Ben Jones (ENG) 68-67-67-72-73, Ho Yu-cheng (TPE) 70-69-72-67-69, Matthew Negri (USA) 67-71-68-73-68, Jakraphan Premsirigorn (THA) 70-73-70-66-68, Jack Harrison (ENG) 69-72-70-66-70, Jonghark Kim (KOR) 72-69-68-71-67, Ren Yonezawa (JPN) 71-69-69-71-67, Justin De Los Santos (PHI) 71-71-72-67-66.
348 – Chonjarern Baramithanaseth (THA) 70-69-69-70-70, Aaron Wilkin (AUS) 69-65-75-70-69, Dimitrios Papadatos (AUS) 74-68-67-69-70, Dongmin Kim (KOR) 69-69-63-77-70, Tawit Polthai (THA) 74-67-69-68-70, Ahmad Baig (PAK) 66-70-70-74-68, Denzel Ieremia (NZL) 69-66-70-75-68, Sejun Yoon (USA) 68-68-71-70-71, Sungyeol Kwon (KOR) 69-69-67-71-72, Jaeil Song (KOR) 67-68-73-73-67.
349 – Hayden Hopewell (AUS) 68-71-70-69-71, Ekpharit Wu (THA) 69-69-72-68-71, Sungkug Park (KOR) 67-69-69-75-69, Justin Quiban (PHI) 66-71-72-68-72, Shiso Go (JPN) 73-67-66-74-69.
350 – Soomin Lee (KOR) 69-68-71-71-71, Vanchai Luangnitikul (THA) 70-67-70-70-73, Rakhyun Cho (KOR) 68-69-71-72-70, Dylan Perry (AUS) 71-69-71-70-69.
351 – Galven Green (MAS) 69-71-68-72-71, Matthew Picanso (USA) 67-75-70-67-72, Newport Laparojkit (THA) 70-72-72-67-70.
352 – Ryan Lumsden (SCO) 67-71-67-73-74, Jaco Prinsloo (RSA) 71-71-69-68-73, Teayang Jung (KOR) 72-68-67-73-72.
353 – Benjamin Follett-Smith (ZIM) 64-71-68-76-74, Luca Filippi (RSA) 69-68-75-68-73.
354 – Louis James Dobbelaar (AUS) 69-69-70-71-75, Jamal Hossain (BAN) 71-69-69-72-73, Yunseok Kang (KOR) 72-69-74-66-73, William Harrold (ENG) 70-71-71-69-73.
355 – Kevin Chun (NZL) 71-73-70-67-74, Andy Zhang (CHN) 66-71-68-76-74.