Bangladeshi Mohammad Siddikur has put himself in contention for a place in Team Asia which will face Team Europe for the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in March, 2014.
The leading available four Asian players from the final 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit will earn automatic places in the Ryder Cup-style showdown at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club from March 28-30, 2014.
Three more spots are available from the Official World Golf Ranking while there will also be three captains' picks to complete Team Asia.
Siddikur claimed a long-awaited second Asian Tour title at the 50th Hero Indian Open on Sunday, which propelled him into third place on the latest Order of Merit behind runaway leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and second-placed Australian Scott Hend.
Kiradech, winner of the Maybank Malaysian Open in March and third at the recent CIMB Classic in Malaysia, has virtually assured his place in Team Asia as he leads the rankings with US$1.11 million while Hend trails with US$569,464. Siddikur, who won wire-to-wire in Delhi, earned US$225,000 on Sunday to take his season's winnings to a career high of US$449,167.
Anirban Lahiri of India, who finished tied second in his national Open, is fourth on the Order of Merit with US$387,608 while countryman Gaganjeet Bhullar is fifth with US$327,378. Korea's Baek Seuk-hyun lies in sixth place, followed by Liang Wen-chong of China is seventh position, Shiv Kapur of India in eighth and Thai star Thongchai Jaidee in ninth spot.
Siddikur, who turns 29 next week, has been a revelation since bursting onto the Asian Tour scene in 2010. With his victory in India likely to guarantee another top-10 finish on the final Order of Merit for the third time in four years, Siddikur has now set his sights on qualifying for Team Asia in the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM.
"Yes, that's definitely my goal which is to qualify for the EurAsia Cup. I think it is going to be an exciting event. I hope I will be able to play. It looks like I'm in a good position to qualify," said Siddikur.
The EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM will be played over three days with five Fourball, five Foursomes and 10 Singles matches. The Team Captains for both Asia and Europe will be announced in due course.
From humble beginnings where Siddikur worked as a ballboy at the Kurmitola Golf Club to support his studies and played around with a make-shift seven iron clubhead stuck onto a metal rod, he has now become one of Asia's brightest stars.
Siddikur was picked by his club, which he is now an honorary member, to receive training and he subsequently represented his nation in the Asian Games before turning professional in 2007. It took him only three years to achieve a career breakthrough when he became the first Bangladeshi winner on the Asian Tour with a memorable triumph at the 2010 Brunei Open.
"I think golf is getting bigger in Bangladesh. I have a lot of fans on Facebook and I received a lot of messages from my fans. I think my win will really impact golf in Bangladesh and in Asia," said Siddikur, who will write another small slice of history by becoming the first Bangladeshi to play in the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf in Australia next week.
The 23-year-old Baek, another emerging young star, is also putting up a strong bid to qualify for Team Asia for the EurAsia Cup. A tied fourth finish in India was the perfect response to two disappointing weeks at the CIMB Classic and WGC-HSBC Champions.
"In the last two weeks, I played really bad. I realised my game was not good enough and that inspired me to work harder. I'm getting nearer and nearer to a first Asian Tour win although I still can't grab as hold of it," said Baek.
He paid tribute to coach Chonrat Sasiwong who has pushed him hard to get onto the next level. "My coach forced me to go to the gym in the morning so I have to sleep early every night. He said if I made another mistake, he would not be my coach anymore. We fought previously because I didn't concentrate on golf," said the Thai-based Korean.
ASIAN TOUR ORDER OF MERIT - TOP-20
Pos Player Order of Merit (US$)
1. Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 1,117,074
2. Scott HEND (AUS) 569,464
3. SIDDIKUR (BAN) 449,167
4. Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 387,608
5. Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 327,378
6. BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 323,743
7. LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) 263,798
8. Shiv KAPUR (IND) 263013
9. Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 248,991
10. Wade ORMSBY (AUS) 213,349
11. S.S.P. CHOWRASIA (IND) 178,831
12. Angelo QUE (PHI) 178,094
13. Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 173,558
14. Berry HENSON (USA)158,451
15. KIM Gi-whan (KOR) 152,167
16. Jyoti RANDHAWA(IND) 135,704
17. KANG Sung-hoon (KOR) 135,000
18. Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 132,061 ,
19. Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) 130,427
20. Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 129,634