Jan 3 (Reuters) - Prince Abdul Hakeem Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei is one of a record 761 golfers who will compete in the Asian Tour’s qualifying school in Thailand this month.
The 39-year-old, who was his country’s first Olympian when he took part in skeet shooting at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, will need to finish tied 40th or better to become the first Brunei golfer on tour.
The Prince, who took up golf having watched his grandfather - the former Sultan of Brunei - play, only turned professional last year after getting his handicap down to zero.
He is one of 156 golfers confirmed for the final stage (Jan. 23-26) with more to come from the first stage which features 605 players split into two sections (Jan. 9-12 and Jan. 16-19).
Also taking part at the key final stage played at the Imperial Lakeview and Springfield Royal course is Germany’s Alex Cejka, who has four European Tour wins, and Australia’s Jake Higginbottom, the 2012 New Zealand Open winner as an amateur.
“The record numbers is another strong testament towards the Asian Tour’s stature in world golf and shows that global players view the Asian Tour as the destination to build their careers,” tour executive chairman Kyi Hla Han said in a statement. (Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O‘Brien)