Northern trio a step closer to Asian glory

THREE Northern Tasmanian golfers have secured their ticket onto the potentially lucrative Asian Tour.

Riverside's Kalem Richardson and North-West pair Craig Hancock and Ryan McCarthy all progressed through the qualifying school in Thailand during February.

The qualification opens up a range of prospects for the talented trio with McCarthy and Richardson straight into the action at the US$300,000 SAIL-SBI Open in India.

After two rounds at Delhi Golf Club, 24-year-old McCarthy is in an 11-way tie for 61st on level par (rounds of 70 and 74) and Richardson (72, 75) is also among 11 players tied for 90th on three-over. 

Indian Rashid Khan, 23,  leads the way by four shots on 14 under par.

McCarthy won the Tasmanian Amateur in 2008 and 2009, doubled up with the Tasmanian Open in 2009 and was ranked the No. 1 amateur in Australia in 2011.

Richardson, 26, also won the Tasmanian Amateur Championship twice before heading to the US to improve his game. 

He turned pro in 2011, made an immediate impact when he jointly led his first tournament, the Maekyung Open in Korea, and earned $9000 for his 27th place at last year's Australian Open.

Through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, the Kuala Lumpur-based Asian Tour is the continent's only recognised professional golf tour, providing its events with official world ranking status.

The Examiner's golf columnist, Rod Eiszele, said securing the Asian Tour ticket was an exciting step forward for the three Tasmanians, opening opportunities throughout India, China and Thailand and the chance to boost their earnings if they made the cut after two rounds.

``If they don't make the cut, they don't make a cent, so it's a pretty harsh way to go, but if you can crack a top placing you can earn enough to keep going for a year,'' he said.

``There's nothing easy about it and they are up against really good players. There are a lot of good golfers out there at that level.''

Hancock got off to a flyer in the first stage of qualifying school at the Royal Thai Army Sports Centre, hitting a nine-under-par 279 (67, 67, 75, 70) to lead by a shot from Japan's Naomi Ohta. 

Another Japanese golfer, Akinori Tani, won the final stage with an 11-under 274. 

McCarthy led home the Tasmanian contingent in 18th on six-under 279 (74, 66, 65, 74) followed by Richardson in 27th on 280 (71, 67, 70, 72) and Hancock 34th on 281 (70, 70, 72, 69).

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