Sebastian Sawtell and Filip Arnesten will be gunning for glory when the 2019-20 Faldo Series Asia resumes this week with the first event of an innovative new qualifying process in Thailand.
Students at the British International School Phuket (BISP), Sawtell and Arnesten are aiming to make the most of local knowledge at Laguna Golf Phuket, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
The 36-hole Phuket event is the first in a series of three qualifiers staged in conjunction with international schools in Thailand.
Combined performances of players in those tournaments in Phuket, Hua Hin and Pattaya will be reflected in an Order of Merit from which five age-group category winners will progress to the 14th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Vietnam’s Laguna Lăng Cô in March, 2020.
There they will join winners from the standalone Faldo Series Thailand Championship, led by Weerawish Narkprachar who topped the standings at Bangkok’s Watermill Golf Club & Resort in June.
Banyan Golf Club will host the second leg of the Thai qualifiers in Hua Hin (December 6-7) with the concluding leg slated for Pattaya in February.
The trio of Faldo Series Thailand Championship qualifiers are being run by Golf Development Asia (GDA) and Fore Management Group, both Bangkok-based companies that specialise in organising junior tournaments.
Each of the three events will allocate a maximum of 100 spots to international schools in Thailand and 40 for other entries. International schools teams that are part of the existing International Schools’ Golf Tour (ISGT) will also be able to win team Order of Merit points towards the ISGT season.
In addition to BISP, other schools represented at Laguna Golf Phuket are Bangkok Patana School, Harrow International School Bangkok, Head Start International School, International School of Myanmar, Kajonkiet International School, Norwich International School Bangkok, Phuket PALS School, Regents International School Pattaya, Rugby School Thailand, St Andrews International School Bangkok, Surat Thani and The American School Bangkok.
While there are more than a dozen low single-figure handicappers in the starting line-up, much will be expected of Sawtell and Arnesten.
Sawtell won last year’s Laguna Golf Phuket Club Championship. In 2017, he became the youngest winner of the Men’s Championship at Phuket’s Blue Canyon Country Club.
Another highly-rated prospect, Arnesten won the Boys’ Under-12 category in last year’s Faldo Series Thailand Championship – South at Laguna Golf Phuket.
Six-time Major champion Faldo, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “I hope that our three new events that make up the Order of Merit will further raise the profile of golf in Thailand and be instrumental in identifying a new generation of golfing stars.”