(Reuters) - Emerging Thai player Thitiphun Chuayprakong is determined to make the most of his last minute call-up for next week’s U.S. Open at Oakmont after former world number one Tiger Woods withdrew from the tournament.
The 23-year-old was the first alternate from Japan sectional qualifying and will make his major tournament debut after Woods, who has not played since undergoing back surgery last September, confirmed he was not ready to return to action.
“I am feeling very happy,” Thitiphun, who claimed his breakthrough title in Bangladesh earlier this year, said in an Asian Tour statement.
“I thought my chances of getting in wasn’t high. I am feeling very excited now as it’ll be my first time playing in a major. It’s going to be a boost to my career,” said the golfer who will join compatriots Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat at Oakmont.
“Kiradech has also called me... and asked me to stay with him (in the rented home at Oakmont). I am very thankful,” Thitiphun said.
Indian Anirban Lahiri, Korean K.T. Tim and Filipino Miguel Tabuena, who topped sectional qualifying in California earlier this week, are the other Asian Tour members in the field.
“It’s not going to be easy. I checked out the golf course on YouTube and it looks very difficult,” Thitiphun said.
“I will work on my tee shots before getting there. I have been practicing hard and I am confident of handling myself during the tournament.”
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by John O'Brien