11 June 2019: Six of the most promising players from the Asian Tour have set their sights on mounting a strong challenge at the 119th edition of the U.S. Open which tees off at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Thursday.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who is currently ranked 46th in the world, is expected to fly the Asian flag alongside fellow Asian Tour members that include India’s Anirban Lahiri, South Africa’s Justin Harding, Australia’s Marcus Fraser and the Japanese duo of Kodai Ichihara and Mikumu Horikawa at the year’s third Major.
Kiradech, the 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, is making his third appearance at the U.S. Open and his 15th place finish at Shinnecock Hills last year remains his best result at a Major so far.
As the first Thai golfer to earn a PGA TOUR card for the 2018/19 PGA TOUR season, Kiradech has already notched two top-five results so far and is optimistic of rediscovering his best form.
“It has been a huge learning curve for me, and I feel I can do even better. I’m trying to get my best form back by practicing hard and playing well. Hopefully that next big break will come along,” said Kiradech.
Like Kiradech, Lahiri is also an Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, having won the prestigious title in 2015.
The Indian punched his ticket to his third U.S. Open appearance through the sectional qualifying in Columbus, Ohio last week.
Lahiri missed the cut in his previous two appearances at the U.S. Open in 2015 and 2016 and is determined to make his mark at the only Major where he has yet to make the halfway cut.
“It doesn’t feel good to watch majors from home so definitely a new perspective heading to the U.S. Open. Safe to say, I’m hungry to play well in the big events. I’m looking forward to heading to Pebble Beach,” said Lahiri.
Harding, a two-time Asian Tour winner, will be hoping to demonstrate the same consistency that led him to a notable tied-12th finish at the Masters Tournament in April.
The South African, who first created an impression during this rookie year on the Asian Tour when he won back-to-back titles in Indonesia and Thailand last year, could spring yet another surprise in his debut at the U.S. Open.
“I’ve shown more consistency in my game and I’ve become a little better mentally. I’m no longer really going through the highs and lows and emotional roller coaster, so to speak.
“But that also comes in not really playing the aggressive mindset game that I had in the past. I’m just trying to get a little bit smarter on the golf course and making less mistakes,” said Harding.
Fraser will meanwhile be making his fourth appearance at the U.S. Open, having teed up in 2007, 2013 and 2015 while Ichihara and Horikawa were rewarded with their debuts after earning their places at the sectional qualifying on home soil.
Chinese Taipei’s T.C. Chen’s tied-second finish in 1985 remains as the best result for an Asian player at the U.S. Open.
50% of the prize money earned by Asian Tour members at the U.S. Open will be counted towards the Order of Merit.
Asian Tour Release