Open Qualifiers Prove That Dreams Really Can Come True
SERGIO GARCIA got his season off to a flying start when he won the recent Singapore Open, but he wasn’t the only player in the field who was celebrating - Jazz Janewattananond, Danthai Boonma, Sean Crocker and Lucas Herbert booked their places in the field for The Open Championship at Carnoustie after finishing in the top 10 at the third event of the Open Qualifying Series.
Janewattananond is a 22-year-old from Bangkok who climbed to 134th in the world on the back of his showing in Singapore. A tie for fourth place is one of the best results on the Asian Tour for Janewattananond and bagging a spot at Carnoustie is the result of years of hard toil. He turned professional in 2010 when he was just 15 years old – and before that had become the youngest player ever to make a cut on the Asian Tour.
His real name is Atiwit but he is known as Jazz due to his father’s fondness for that genre of music. And European golf fans better get used to seeing Janewattananond as he earned his 2018 European Tour Card through Q School last year. Formerly a competitive swimmer before turning his attentions to golf, Janewattananond has already proven he can keep his head above water. “It is a dream come true to be playing The Open. I can’t wait to be there,” he said afterwards.
Boonma admits that he has idolised Tiger Woods ever since he was a child. And now he will get the chance to meet his hero at Carnoustie after his strong finish in Singapore. The 21-year-old Boonma has long been earmarked as a player to watch on the Asian Tour. Hailing from Phitsanulok, he was a double gold medallist at the South East Asia Games as an amateur in 2012. Having turned pro in 2014, Boonma already has three Tour wins to his name and in 2016 achieved four top-10 finishes, including a runners-up finish at the Bank BRI-JCB Indonesia Open. The key to Boonma’s Open qualification was his third round 65 in Singapore. “I am very happy and proud of qualifying for The Open, which is my first major championship. I am looking forward to the challenge and experience of playing Carnoustie,” he said.
Sean Crocker, of the United States, is mentored by former Open champion Nick Price. The Zimbabwean has been helping Crocker ever since they first met back in 2003 and the three-time major champion clearly likes what he sees. Sporting success runs in the family for the 21-year-old, the son of Gary Crocker, a former Test cricketer from Zimbabwe. But after the family emigrated to California, the son turned his hand to golf. Still only 21, Crocker is a three-time All-American and the 2015 US Amateur Championship semi-finalist who only turned pro this past autumn. Now up to 540 in the world, Crocker tied for seventh at the Australian PGA Championship back in December. And his four birdies in his final round of 69 were enough to buy him a ticket to the big dance at Carnoustie in July. “To qualify for The Open is unreal, it’s something you dream of. To play in your first major is the coolest thing ever. I remember Tiger Woods winning The Open back in the day, the one thing you always did was tune in when it was on.”
Lucas Herbert became the eighth Australian to secure a spot at Carnoustie. The big hitter from Bendigo has really caught the eye in recent months – he achieved top 10 finishes at the Australian Open and the Australian PGA at the back end of last year. And he has carried that form onto the Asian Tour, including Singapore, where he secured his spot at The Open – despite a nervous wait as Berry Henson missed a putt on the 18th that would have denied him.
Australia and The Open have a lot of history, and Herbert will be joining the likes of Jason Day, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman in Scotland. Not to mention Cameron Davis who overhauled Herbert before Christmas at the Australian Open to bag his own spot as part of the ongoing Open Qualifying Series. “I played Carnoustie at the Amateur Championship so I’ve seen the course in tournament conditions,” he said. “It’s really tough but I took away a lot experience of playing there and I’ll look to draw upon that. I remember watching Padraig Harrington winning The Open after the play-off and Sergio just missing that putt just before. Those were my first memories of watching The Open.”
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