Rayong, Thailand: Young Indian golfer Viraj Madappa finished tied 29th at the 2018 Asian Tour Qualifying Schools Final Stage to earn his maiden Asian Tour card in only his second season as a professional.
The 21-year-old, who became the 2017 PGTI Emerging Player of the Year, posted an even-par 71 in the fifth and final round of the Final Stage at the Rayong Green Valley Country Club to total three-under 352 (73-67-69-72-71) for the week.
He, thus, finished inside the top-35 and ties for the week to claim his Asian Tour card.
Viraj, who as a rookie had six top-10s on the PGTI last year including a runners-up finish, made three birdies and three bogeys in the last round that saw him slip five spots from his overnight tied 24th.
Nonetheless, Madappa’s final round performance was good enough for him to not only secure his card but also end up as the highest-placed Indian at the event.
The Kolkata-based golfer had been one of India’s leading amateurs prior to turning professional in 2017.
Himmat Rai (71-71-71-66-74) was the other Indian to earn full playing rights on the Asian Tour as he closed the week in tied 34th place at two-under 353.
Himmat, a former winner on the Asian Tour, dropped 16 places from his overnight tied 18th as a result of his final round of three-over 74 but still managed to make the grade by one shot. Rai now returns to the Asian Tour after a one year gap.
The event was won by South Korea’s Seungtaek Lee who totalled 14-under 341.
The Indians who did not finish among the top-35 players and ties and thus missed their card were Angad Cheema (tied 51st at even-par 355), Veer Ahlawat and Deepinder Singh Kullar (both tied 69th at four-over 359) and M Dharma (tied 73rd at five-over 360).