15-member Indian school golf contingent
The Indian contingent includes a couple of former winners and a hugely talented bunch of youngsters at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final stage at the Imperial Lakeview GC and Springfield Royal Golf Courses.
Winner on Asian Tour in his rookie year 2004, Rahil Gangjee, who is planning to play as many events as he can on the Nationwide Tour in the US, is back to the Q-School after barely playing on Asian Tour last year. "I want a playing status on Asian Tour because I started here and it will be good to have a back-up. I did not play here much last year and this year whenever I am free from Nationwide I will try and play Asian Tour," he said.
Three of the four players, who were part of the silver medal winning Asian Games Indian team will be battling for an Asian Tour card. Rashid Khan leads the trio with Abhijit Singh Chadha and Abhinav Lohan being the other two.
Others Indians playing the Final Stage of the Qualifying School include former Asian Tour winner Harmeet Kahlon, Abhishek Jha, Ajeetesh Sandhu, a top-1o finisher at SAIL Open last year, Arjun Singh Chaudhri, Baaz Mann, Deepender Singh Kullar, Gaurav Pratap Singh, Gurki Shergill, Kanwar Sekhon, Mandeo Pathania and Naman Dawar.
Rashid is looking to make amends after retiring in the second round of the Final Stage last year due to illness. "It means a lot to earn my Asian Tour card because the Olympic games is in 2016 and I need to boost my rankings to qualify for it," said Rashid.
"It gives you a lot of boost when you see Indians winning a tournament. It gives me hope that if these guys can win, so can I. Last year I missed out on winning in India so now I know what I need to do to win a tournament," he said.
The field includes Korea`s Jeong Jin, the first Asian to win the 2010 British Amateur Championship, James Byrne of Scotland, who was part of the successful Great Britain and Ireland team in the 2011 Walker Cup, Singapore`s Choo Tze-huang and Jeremiah Kim of Malaysia.
As many as 240 players from 30 countries will vie to finish in the top-40 and ties this week.
The Final Stage, presented by Sports Authority of Thailand, will be played over two courses at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Springfield Royal Country Club and Imperial Lakeview Resort Golf Club. Golfers will play on alternate courses for the first two rounds while the final two rounds will be played at Springfield Royal.