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Bhasin earns Asian Tour card

Source: PTI
January 21, 2012 20:50 IST

Rahil Gangjee shot a sensational nine-under 63 and zoomed from the brink at 36th place to tied second at the end of the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage in Hua Hin, Thailand on Saturday.

Gangjee totalled 12-under 276 and ended in a four-way tie for second, two shots behind winner American David Lipsky (69) at 14-under. Tied with Gangjee were Dodge Kemmer (69) of the United States, Thailand's Arnond Vongvanij (69) and Australia's Adam Groom (68).

Gangjee, who came to the Tour School to ensure a back-up as he continues to play on the Nationwide Tour in United States, is now assured of good starts on the Asian Tour where he won as a Rookie in 2004.

Gangjee's 63 in the final round, equalled the best of the week, also shot by Yosuke Tsukada of Japan in first round and by Swiss player, Martin Romminger in second round.

Other than Gangjee, Kunal Bhasin who was tied 14th after three rounds, also managed to get full playing rights with a final round of 72 that saw him finish at six-under in tied 16th place.

"It was one of those great days where everything fell into place. Each putt fell in perfectly. I was quite sure I would do well. I was getting better day by day. I knew if I shot under-par I would get my card. But a nine-under was a pleasant surprise," said Gangjee, whose round included an eagle and eight birdies against just one bogey.

As many as 14 other Indians failed to earn cards in the Q-School.

David Lipsky of the United States won the Qualifying School Final Stage to lead a strong cast of young guns into the new 2012 Asian Tour season.

Lipsky, who is half Korean, closed with a final round four-under-par 68 to win the all-important Final Stage presented by Sports Authority of Thailand by two shots.

Among the notable names who finished in the top-40 and ties to earn their Asian Tour card for 2012 include James Bryne of Scotland, last year's Walker Cup star, former Asian Tour winner Artemio Murakami of the Philippines and Australian Adam Blyth at the Springfield Royal Country Club.

Lipsky enjoyed a successful college career at the Northwestern University in Chicago and credited his victory to words of encouragement received from world number one Luke Donald on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

"Luke Donald and my coach sent me some good messages this week. That really encouraged me. It was just a Tweet from Luke telling me good luck. Nothing too serious but that always helps with the confidence when you have the world number one wishing you luck," said the 23-year-old, who was one shot off the lead before battling to a winning total 14-under-par 274.

Lipsky, who surprised even himself with his debut victory in Asia, said he hopes to follow in the footsteps of seven-time Asian Tour winner Charlie Wi, who encouraged him to ply his trade in the far East.

"Being on the Asian Tour exceeds my expectations. I grew up with Charlie Wi as my friend and he has been successful out here. He talked to me a little bit about it and my coach encouraged me to travel and play. That was really the deciding factors. I don't have any regrets and it seems like it is going to be a great experience," added Lipsky.

Arnond, who is highly tipped to be the next star from Thailand, birdied the last hole from 20 feet for 69 to finish in tied second place.

"It was scary but it worked out. I finished at 12-under but left a few putts out there. Overall I played well. It would have been nice to win but second place is not bad. I'm not feeling anything right now and I'm just going to enjoy the moment," said Arnond, who grew up in Thailand before moving to Florida to play golf at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy.

A total of 42 players earned their Asian Tour cards for 2012 with the cut at three-under-par 285.

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