Young Thai talent Thitiphun Chuayprakong will make his Major debut at the U.S. Open next week after former world number one Tiger Woods withdrew.
The 23-year-old Thai, who claimed his breakthrough Asian Tour win in Bangladesh in February, was the first alternate from the Japan sectional qualifying site.
He shot rounds of 66 and 72 for a four-under-par 138 total to finish six shots back of winner Yuta Ikeda of Japan in fifth place at the Higashi Hirono Golf Club last month.
Thitiphun will head to Oakmont Country Club for the year’s second Major alongside compatriots Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, India’s Anirban Lahiri, Korea’s K.T. Kim and young Filipino Miguel Tabuena, who topped the sectional qualifying in California earlier this week.
Thitiphun was delighted to earn the late call-up into his first Major, which starts from June 16 to 19.
“I am feeling very happy. I thought my chances of getting in wasn’t high. I am feeling very excited now as it’ll be my first time playing in a Major. It’s going to be a boost to my career. Kiradech has also called me earlier today and asked me to stay with him (in the rented home at Oakmont). I am very thankful,” Thitiphun said.
The ever-smiling Thitiphun made up for the disappointment of missing out on his Asian Tour card at the Qualifying School in January by claiming his maiden win in the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open in the following month. He is currently in 21st place on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
“It’s not going to be easy. I checked out the golf course on YouTube and it looks very difficult! I will work on my tee shots before getting there. I have been practising hard and I am confident of handling myself during the tournament.
“Everything is getting better. It’s important to have a good game plan and a good mindset. I am really looking forward to next week,” added the excited Thai.