Iwata leads Open qualifiers

3/7/2014 1:44:02 PM
Hiroshi Iwata  (Getty Images)
Hiroshi Iwata (Getty Images)
Japan's Hiroshi Iwata led from the front as he successfully qualified for The Open Championship following the final qualifying event in Thailand.

The 33 year old carded a 71 to claim a five under par total of 139 at Amata Spring Country Club after leading by one stroke following Thursday's opening round.

Taiwanese amateur Cheng-Tsung Pan and Chinese professional Ashun Wu also made it through to the tournament proper to be hosted at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in July.

Former Open participant Wu scored an impressive 68 to improve on his two under first round result, finishing one shot behind Iwata in a tie for second in qualifying alongside Pan, who equalled his opening round score of 70.

The fourth and final spot was won by Iwata's compatriot Yoshinobu Tsukada following a four-way play-off involving Masahiro Kawamura, home player Jazz Janewattananond and American David Lipsky, who all finished on three under.

Thailand's Prom Meesawat, who was one of four players to shoot 69 to remain in contention on three under at the halfway stage, failed to make it through as he scored a disappointing 79 after hitting seven bogeys and one double bogey.

On securing his place in the 143rd Open Championship, Iwata said: "It's great to return. It has been a long time, and I'm happy to be back.

"I trained hard for this week and I'm glad the efforts finally paid off. I have been striking the ball well and I was confident of my chances.

"I hope to carry this form on to The Open."

Pan admitted he was still shocked after finishing tied for second alongside Wu and admitted he was thrilled to be playing in his third Major Championship after competing in the 2011 and 2013 US Opens.

He said: "I'm still in a state of shock but at the same time I'm really happy with how I have played considering how tough this qualifier has been.

"Playing in The Open Championship has always been a dream of mine.

"The conditions are going to be very different from the US - at Royal Liverpool - but I guess that's what golf is all about.

"You have got to learn to play and compete under different conditions and hopefully I can do well again in July."

Wu, 28, was delighted to qualify and hopes to make an impression after playing in The Open at Muirfield last year.

He said: "Making my debut at The Open Championship was an eye-opener for me last year.

"Now that I have qualified again I will make the best of my opportunity and try to put up a better performance."