BANGKOK -- Two-time Asia-Pacific Amateur champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh fired 6-under rounds of 66 Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the two-day Asian International Final Qualifying (IFQ) event for the British Open.
China's Mu Hu, Australia's Scott Barr and Singaporeans Quincy Quek and Lam Zhigun had a share of third place at 5 under at the par-72 Amata Spring Country Club course. American Anthony Kang was in a group of eight at 4 under.
Four players out of the starting field of 78 will qualify from the Asian IFQ, one of five continental qualifiers for the 2013 British Open at Muirfield.
Teenage Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang, who won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at the same course last year and has already qualified for the Masters, was 1 over after the first round.
Siddikur (who traditionally goes by only his first name) is on track to make history by becoming the first player from Bangladesh to make it into golf’s oldest major after carding seven birdies and one bogey on his way to his opening 66.
“I’m very happy. I played very well in the beginning. I got seven birdies with one bogey so I’m really happy with the round,” said Siddkur, who got off to an excellent start and was 5 under after six holes. “I’m very confident and my game is good. If I can play my game, I’m quite confident I’ll be able to qualify for the Open Championship.”
Matsuyama, who is ranked fifth in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, hopes to make amends for last year’s heartbreak when he dropped six shots in the last three holes to miss a playoff for the fourth and final place in the Open by two shots.
“I’ve forgotten about that and have already moved on. I’m looking forward to the last day and if I can keep playing as I did, then I’ll be able to earn a place in the Open Championship,” said Matsuyama.
Quek, who is aiming to become the third Singaporean after Mardan Mamat and Lam Chih Bing to play in the Open, was in the lead for 17 holes, but hit his tee shot into the water on the ninth hole for a double bogey.
“I’m happy to be on 5 under with a double bogey,” he said. “In two-day events, you have to make as many birdies as you can. I guess my focus tomorrow is to enjoy the round and put in a low number.”
Barr mixed his round with eight birdies and one eagle against a double bogey and three bogeys as he plots a return to the Open, where he made his debut at Royal Troon in 2004.
“I started to hit the ball pretty well at the start and putted pretty good. I just made a couple of soft mistakes,” he said. “This is a golf course where you can get in big trouble without making many mistakes. Overall I’m happy but I hope to hold it together.”
International Final Qualifying (IFQ) events were introduced in 2004 and are held on five continents to give more players from around the world the chance to gain direct entry into the British Open. The Australian event was held in January, and the other IFQ events are set for March 5-6 at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in South Africa; May 20 at Gleneagles Country Club in Plano, Texas; and June 24 at Sunningdale Golf Club in Sunningsale, England.