Photo: Asian Tour
The European Tour Qualifying School will venture to Asia for the first time this year, with Malaysia’s Saujana Golf & Country Club hosting a First Stage Qualifier from September 5 to 8, 2017.
The Kuala Lumpur venue, which held this year’s Maybank Championship, has a long affiliation with the European Tour, having first played host to the Malaysian Open in 1999 – which entered the record books as the first event to be co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.
It will make history again this year, becoming the first venue outside of Europe to host a Qualifying School event in the competition’s 41-year history, underlining the close links between the European Tour and Asian Tour as part of the Strategic Alliance which was signed in July 2016.
Also a European Tour Destination, Saujana played host to the Malaysian Open five times between 2001 and 2009, with Vijay Singh and Thongchai Jaidee among the winners, and is widely regarded as one of Asia’s leading courses.
Built on the site of a former palm and rubber plantation, the picturesque venue was the brainchild of former Prime Minister YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who in 1982 ordered a government task force to set up a golf club in his nation’s capital to attract investors to the area.
More than three decades later and the first event on the 2017 Qualifying School calendar will take place on the renowned Palm Course – which played host to the 2017 Maybank Championship –where a maximum of 78 hopefuls will begin their quest for a place on the European Tour.
“We are absolutely delighted to announce that for the first time in Qualifying School’s 41-year history we will have an event in Asia,” said Mike Stewart, Qualifying School Director.
“Over the years we have seen a greater integration between the Asian and European Tours, which was formalised with the signing of the Strategic Alliance last year, and we felt this was a natural next step to add more opportunities for players outside of Europe to qualify for our Tour.
“This is a landmark achievement for Qualifying School, and we must thank Ken Kudo and everyone at Saujana Golf & Country Club for helping to make this happen.
“Saujana Golf & Country Club is highly regarded around the world, and we have no doubt that Ken and his team will do an excellent job in hosting the first event on the 2017 Qualifying School calendar.”
Ken Kudo, Club Manager of Saujana Golf & Country Club, said: “We at Saujana Golf & Country Club are honoured to host the first ever European Tour Qualifying School event held outside of Europe.
“Assisting the development of golf in our country and region has been a key objective for us. To be able to continue to do this, after hosting such events as International Final Qualifying for The Open Championship in previous years, is exciting to us moving forward.
“We hope that the top professionals from the region, and the elite amateurs aiming to make it onto the European Tour, seize this opportunity.”
Cho Minn Thant, Chief Operating Officer of the Asian Tour, said: “One of the objectives of the Strategic Alliance was for us to create an easier pathway for our members to try and earn playing privileges on the European Tour. With the First Stage Qualifier being held in Malaysia, Asian-based golfers do not need to travel all the way to Europe in their initial quest to earn a Tour card. I am optimistic we will see a strong turnout of players at Saujana.”