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Liang, Bhullar qualify for British Open

CHINA'S Liang Wenchong qualified for his second British Open after shooting a five-under-par 66 for a four-under total of 138 and second place at the International Final Qualifying?Asia in Singapore yesterday.

Compatriot Wu Ashun closed with a 70 to finish on 141, but missed out by one stroke to make the nine-man playoff for the fourth ticket to Turnberry.

Liang, a three-time winner on the Omega China Tour and the Asian Tour Order of Merit winner in 2007, finished two shots behind India's Gaganjeet Bhullar, who closed with a 67 over the Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course.

Last July, Liang became the first mainland Chinese to play in all four rounds at the Open and the 30-year-old was delighted with the chance to return to the historic event.

"I played really well today. My tee-shots and putts were all spot-on and I couldn't ask for a better performance," said Liang, who had an eagle on the par-four fourth and three birdies.

"I hope to continue playing well and hopefully put Asia on the world map with a good showing in July."

Australia's Terry Pilkadaris finished third on 139, while compatriot Tim Stewart won the playoff for the fourth spot in Scotland after nine players were tied at 140.

Bhullar started the second round yesterday in a share of eighth place and four shots behind overnight leader Mikko Ilonen of Finland, a former British Amateur Championship winner.

"I actually set a target of five-under for today, although I managed to finish in four-under. But it's okay," the 20-year-old from Kapurthala in north India said. "I'm really happy now that I'm on my way to the British Open.

"I've been watching the British Open since I was a kid and to actually get to play there is truly a dream come true."

Ilonen missed out on a fifth appearance at the British Open when he carded a six-over 77 in the second round to finish in a tie for 20th.

Wu narrowly missed out on his first major after shooting a 70 to finish one shot off a place in the playoff.

It was the latest impressive performance from the 23-year-old. The former Asian Games star, who turned professional after qualifying for last year's Asian Tour, recently finished joint runner-up in the Omega China Tour's season-opening Dell Championship in Xiamen City in his native coastal province of Fujian.

His return to the domestic circuit followed a great start to his second Asian Tour season. After finishing joint-fifth in January's Asian Tour Qualifying School, Wu tied for seventh in February's Asian Tour International in Thailand and then finished joint-fourth in last month's Singha Thailand Open.

The British Open in July will be Liang's fourth career major after the 2007 PGA Championship and last year's Masters and British Open, where he finished joint-64th, ahead of the likes of Lee Westwood and Justin Rose.


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