KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Arie Irawan is attempting to forge a new path in his professional career as the 27-year-old competes at this week’s PGA Tour Series-China International Qualifying TournamenT – the second of two successive 72-hole, no-cut qualifiers at Mission Hills Haikou.
The top-15 finishers over the Sandbelt Trails Course will earn full cards and the next 25 and ties will be conditionally exempt for this year’s PGA Tour Series-China, which will reward the top-five money winners with places on the Web.com Tour, the path to the PGA TOUR.
Arie has played primarily on the Asian Development Tour since 2013 and won two events in 2015, the year he also held a full card on the Asian Tour.
His career veered off course in early 2016 when a moped accident left him with metal plates in his shoulder and forced him out of golf for several months.
However, an appearance later in the year at the Clearwater Bay Open in Hong Kong, the first PGA Tour Series-China event outside of Mainland China, opened his eyes to a circuit that helped propel Zecheng Dou and Xinjun Zhang to the PGA Tour via the Web.com Tour.
“I had just played the CIMB Classic and then I did the Monday qualifier for the Clearwater Bay Open as I wanted to try out a PGA Tour China event. I qualified to play and I loved how PGA Tour China sets up their tournaments, the quality of the players and purses,” said the he University of Tulsa graduate.
“For me, my goal is to get into the Web.com Tour and get back to the U.S. I was at college there and if anyone wants to get to the US, the PGA Tour China is the best way.
“I’m definitely confident. I didn’t play too well at Asian Tour Q-School last month, but it was my first tournament of the year and I wasn’t really ready, but then I finished third at a local Malaysian event in Perlis. I also won another in December. My confidence is there, for sure. I just need to make more birdies and score well.”
Arie has experience of playing in China since his amateur days, when he competed in the first Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Mission Hills Shenzhen in 2009 and the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, where he shot a final-round 64 at Dragon Lake Golf Club to tie for 12th. Most recently, he played an Asian Tour event in Xiamen at the end of last year.