Kosuke Hamamoto of Thailand

                                      Kosuke Hamamoto of Thailand 

 Asian Tour Qualifying School graduate Kosuke Hamamoto of Thailand will be looking to translate his impressive form into a victory at the inaugural Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship, which starts on Thursday.

Kosuke, who entered the spotlight when he came in runner-up at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Chinese Taipei last week, is inspired to bid for a successful outing when he gets his campaign underway at the Classic Golf and Country Club.

Thanks for his commendable result last week, the 20-year-old Thai has virtually locked up his Asian Tour card for 2020 after playing only five events so far this season. He will be aiming to go one rung better in the inaugural Asian Tour event, which offers a prize purse of US$300,000.

India’s Chikkarangappa S. and Viraj Madappa are counting on home advantage to steer themselves to a victory this week. Their title ambitions will be put to test by Korea’s Taehee Lee and Masahiro Kawamura of Japan, placed fourth and fifth respectively on the Order of Merit.

The host venue, which comprises of an 18-Hole Signature Championship Course as well as a 9-Hole Signature Canyon Course, witnessed a slice of history in 2009 when Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat recorded the world’s lowest 72-hole score with a 32-under-par to win the third of his four Asian Tour titles then.

Prior to hosting its first Asian Tour event in 2009, the Classic Golf and Country Club was also home to the prestigious Indian Open in 2000 and 2001. Over the past few years, it has also played host to several tournaments on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).

Did you know?

  • Kosuke Hamamoto enjoyed a runner-up finish in Chinese Taipei last week to move to 27th place on the Order of Merit, where he has virtually retained his playing rights for the 2020 season.
  • The 20-year-old, whose father is Japanese and mother is Thai, joined the play-for-pay ranks after coming through the Qualifying School last December.
  • In just five starts on Tour prior to this week, Kosuke has secured a tied-16th place result at the Sarawak Championship last month and a tied-10th finish at the Bank BRI Indonesia Open a fortnight ago.
  • Kosuke also enjoyed some solid results on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) this season, having notched four top-10s, including a runner-up finish at the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation.
  • Hamamoto started playing golf at the age of eight. He is a former Thai Amateur star, South East Asia (SEA) Games individual gold medalist and was part of the first Thai team to win the Nomura Cup in Malaysia in 2017.
  • He was also part of Team Thailand that finished second in the Team event at the SEA Games in 2017.
  • Chikkarangappa S. is a two-time winner on the ADT. He has also won twice on his domestic circuit this year.
  • Chikka will be chasing for his first title on the Asian Tour this week.
  • He sits in 21st place on the Order of Merit, thanks to a tied-20th place finish at the lucrative Maybank Championship and a top-10 finish at his National Open earlier this season.
  • Viraj Madappa will be chasing for his second Asian Tour title this week. The 21-year-old claimed his breakthrough on home soil when he was still a rookie last August.
  • Madappa holds the record of being the youngest Indian player, at the age of 20, to win on the Asian Tour. He finished his rookie season in 35th place on the 2018 Order of Merit.
  • Madappa has endured a lacklustre season, having made only five cuts in 12 starts to sit in 67th place on the money list. The young Indian, however, is getting his season back on track with back-to-back top-25 finishes in Indonesia and Chinese Taipei coming into this week.

Players’ quotes:

Kosuke Hamamoto (Tha)

Obviously, I’m quite relieved that I have secured my playing rights for next year. Now that I have my playing rights secured, my goal is to finish as high as possible on the Order of Merit so that I get into all the co-sanctioned events.

To be honest, I didn’t really expect anything because it’s my rookie year. I didn’t want to expect too much out of myself, I just wanted to learn as fast as I can, and learn as much as possible every single week.

It was nice to drop only shot throughout the week in Chinese Taipei. But I wasn’t thinking about keeping the bogeys off the cards because in golf, the harder you try to do something, the harder it is for you to do it. If you try not to make a bogey, it’s easier to make a bogey. So I will just go out and focus on my processes. Whatever meant to happen, will happen.

It’s not going to be easy to get a win this week, but I’ll definitely give my 100% effort, and like I said just try to focus on my process and whatever happens, happens.

Chikkarangappa S (Ind)

Playing at home is always special and to be honest, I got some really good memories out here. I got my podium finish in my second professional event in PGTI here at the Classic Golf and Country Club so a lot of good memories out here.

I’ve been very comfortable playing back home in India. I had a top 10 finish at the Indian Open and also I played two events on the domestic circuit this year and I won both. Playing at home is always a little bit of a good feeling and you know obviously having the knowledge of the golf course is an advantage.

Form has been really good, it’s just that my putter has been a little cold. I think I just need to kiss my putter this week and it should start working. And I should be back up there on the weekends.

To be honest, I’ve been out free-wheeling, you know after I finished that top 10 and played well in Maybank and everything, made sure my card was done in the first half itself. I’ve been working on a couple of things with my coach, and then those things are getting in place, and I can see myself.

My ball-striking has improved a lot, my fairway hitting has improved a lot, my greens-in-regulation has improved, it’s just like I said my putter has been a little cold, but once it gets hot, the way I’m striking the ball I think I should be able to go a lot deeper.

I’m going to go out there and make sure I’m in the 65s every day. That’s what the goal is, and just try and get those numbers up there, and probably more than 20 under is going to be the winning score for sure, so looking forward to that.

Viraj Madappa (Ind)

It feels good to be back playing in India. I think playing anywhere in India is kind of an advantage for us. Feels very comfortable, a lot of people over here will probably be rooting for us, not just me. So it’s nice to be back playing on courses that we have played on a lot growing up.

We have had a few junior and amateur events here, growing up I’ve played a few events over here, so I do know this place a little bit. Not as much as some of the courses I normally play in Bangalore and Calcutta, but I have played it before and I think enough to know a little about it.

I feel really good with my game. I’ve had two really positive weeks coming into this week, so I’m excited about being here and playing in front of a home crowd.

My goal is just to do as good as I can, and I know I’m playing well enough to win. I think I’m going to be banking on a lot of home supporters which pushed me through the line like when I won in Bangalore last year, so I’m excited for that.

I think last year was just a learning experience, getting to play a lot of the bigger events after I won. Also getting used to seeing a lot of the big guys in the co-sanctioned events. I think I was like kind of fan-boying and star-struck.

I think I’ve gotten over that and it feels, I think, more natural now, feels like my work-place playing anywhere I normally go and most of the courses we’re going to be playing now are places that I’ve been, so more familiar I guess


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