News All Articles
Leading DP World Tour trio in Japan target U.S. PGA Championship through Asian Swing

Leading DP World Tour trio in Japan target U.S. PGA Championship through Asian Swing

For many of the DP World Tour members playing in the ISPS HANDA – CHAMPIONSHIP, the significance of the possible reward of qualification into next month’s U.S. PGA Championship is impossible to ignore.

The ongoing Asian Swing – the third of five Global Swings on the 2024 Race to Dubai schedule – presents an exciting opportunity: Exemption into the second men’s Major Championship of the year.

At the conclusion of next week’s Volvo China Open, the players who finish in the top three positions in the final Asian Swing standings will earn a spot to compete at Valhalla Golf Club from May 16-19.

Heading into this week’s event in Japan, Sebastian Söderberg sits just outside those spots but is well placed to break into the top three after moving into a share of the clubhouse lead at ten under through his opening two rounds at Taiheiyo Club’s Gotemba Course.

The Swede has made two appearances at a Major, both of which have come at the US Open in 2016 and 2022.

Asked whether the reward of a Major exemption was in his mind after a six-under-par 64 in the second round, he replied: “Absolutely, but I know you have basically got to win.

“We have got three spots [and] four events, so the winners have got the front seats. You probably need a win.”

Both Keita Nakajima, who leads the Asian Swing standings after his maiden DP World Tour title in India last month, and third-placed Kiradech Aphibarnrat are projected to make the cut in Japan.

But with Porsche Singapore Classic winner Jesper Svensson, who came into the week lying second, set to miss out on the final 36 holes, there is opportunity for those to make up ground before China.

One such player is Yannik Paul, who played alongside fellow DP World Tour winner Söderberg over the opening two rounds and holds a share of the lead after a second consecutive round of 65 in Japan.

The German played in last year’s U.S. PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club and is eager to feature again, with his current world ranking of 127 not set to earn him direct qualification.

“I know that I need a good performance to get into the [U.S.] PGA Championship based on world ranking,” said Paul, who sits 21st on the Asian Swing standings.

“I played last year, and I want to play on the big stage at the majors. I would lie if I said I wouldn’t be disappointed if I can’t play the PGA.

“I am trying to just take it day by day and see where I end up.

“I don’t really look at the leaderboard. I just try to stick to the process. Sometimes I get too distracted about the outcome.

“That is basically my main goal; just focus on the process, not the result or the leaderboard and see where I end up on Sunday.”

Another player riding high on the leaderboard in Japan and on the Asian Swing standings is in-form Englishman Sam Bairstow.

After finishing third in Singapore and then a tie for 13th in India, the European Challenge Tour graduate is now in a share of the lead at the penultimate event on the Asian Swing.

“I’m just keeping it simple, sometimes you can just overthink it,” said Bairstow when asked what he attributed his good form to.

Having come into the week ranked sixth on the Asian Swing, he is doing himself every favour in his bid for his first Major appearance overseas.

Click here to sign up to My Tour - the DP World Tour's free digital membership - and unlock exclusive competitions, offers and more.

Read next