Hua Hin, Thailand: American Austen Truslow topped the class when he signed off his marathon week with a six-under-par 65 to secure his Tour card at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage.
Truslow was also the leading player to progress from the previous week’s first stage and impressed many with his one-handed dexterity at chipping as he wrapped up his week with a five-day total of 24-under-par 331.
“I started chipping with one hand over a year ago. I didn’t chip great this week, but it was still a lot better than chipping with two hands. I don’t chip with one hand every single time, but 80 per cent of the time,” said Truslow, who admitted that victory was not his main goal heading into the final day at the Lakeview Resort and Golf Club.
“I just wanted a good round as it’ll give me my status on Tour. I finished well … and I kind of lucked into the win today.
“My goal when I was 18 was to get on Tour by age 22 and the Asian Tour Qualifying School was the last time to do it. It’s been a good week. I finally have a place to play full time. I felt that my game is good enough once I get out there, but I haven’t done well in qualifying. Now that I have a card, I can loosen and show my consistency.”
Thai Gunn Charoenkul also completed an unforgettable week as he carded the lowest score of the day with a 61 to finish in second place.
Indian Aadil Bebi, the youngest player to tee up in the Final Stage, showed his mental toughness by posting a 63 to end the week tied for ninth.
Despite learning about the loss of a close friend who was involved in a fatal traffic accident at the start of the week, the 17-year-old displayed maturity beyond his years by staying focused to earn his playing rights for the 2019 Asian Tour season.
He said: “I lost a dear friend on the first day, back home. It was tough mentally, but I managed to play well and I’m glad it has all come together. It was difficult to focus at times. When there were long waits between holes, or between rounds at night, I was thinking about my friend.”
Meanwhile, Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana and China’s Jin Cheng will plot the next stages in their fledgling careers after emerging among the top-35 and ties to earn their Tour cards.
The pair will be hoping to carry forward their distinguished amateur records as they start their professional careers on the Asian Tour.
Sadom was part of the Thai teams that claimed a silver medal at the Southeast Asian Games and won the Asia Pacific Men’s Amateur Team Championship for the Nomura Cup.
For his part, Jin, now in his third year at the University of Southern California, will look to make an impact in the second half of 2019. “I’ll maintain my amateur status at least until June. I have school until then,” said Jin, whose resume includes an appearance at the US Masters after winning the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship.
Jin, who took up golf when aged eight and lived in Singapore during his secondary school years, added: “When I turn professional, the Asian Tour will be an ideal platform for me.”