ASEAN PGA Tour teenaged standout Phachara Khongwatmai, who won the Singha Hua Hin Open as a 14-year-old schoolboy, has taken another step in his golfing education by qualifying for next year’s Open Championship at Royal Troon.
After coming through Monday qualifying, Phachara finished in sixth place in the star-studded Thailand Golf Championship which doubled as an Open Qualifying Series event.
The Thai dropped just one shot on his way to a final round six-under-par 66 on Sunday to finish on 13-under-par for the tournament at Amata Spring Country Club and take the last of four qualifying spots up for grabs.
The other Open places went to winner Jamie Donaldson, Clement Sordet and Lee Westwood. Sergio Garcia and Byeong-Hun An finished ahead of Phachara in a tie for fourth place but are already exempt for The Open.
“I am overwhelmed with happiness that I can be able to be included in The Open next year. I played with no expectations so I guess that was the key to playing well today,” said the 16-year-old Phachara.
“I came through the Qualifier on Monday and I was already very happy to get a chance to play with the top stars this week. I didn’t think so much (about The Open) and I surprised even myself to finish so well.”
Phachara was aged just 14 years, two months and 18 days when he beat a strong field in the Singha Hua Hin Open on the ASEAN PGA Tour in July, 2014 to become the youngest ever winner of a professional event.
He has made steady progress since turning professional a few months after his maiden win and underlined his huge potential with victory in the PGM CCM Rahman Putra Championship on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) earlier this year.