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You are here: Golf Golf News China's Li and Thailand's Kiradech qualify for 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship

China's Li and Thailand's Kiradech qualify for 2018 WGC-Mexico Championship

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China’s rising star Li Haotong has qualified for his maiden appearance in the 2018 World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship alongside big-hitting Thai, Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Following the conclusion of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, the top 20 players in the final standing officially qualified for the WGC-Mexico Championship to be held from February 28 to March 4, 2018 at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City. The qualified players are:

1.     Tommy Fleetwood, England

2.     Justin Rose, England

3.     Jon Rahm, Spain

4.     Sergio Garcia, Spain

5.     Tyrrell Hatton, England

6.     Ross Fisher, England

7.     Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Spain

8.     Alex Noren, Sweden

9.     Francesco Molinari, Italy

10.  Branden Grace, South Africa

11.  Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thailand

12.  Matthew Fitzpatrick, England

13.  Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland

14.  Bernd Wiesberger, Austria

15.  Henrik Stenson, Sweden

16.  Paul Dunne, Ireland

17.  Li Haotong, China

18.  Peter Uihlein, United States

19.  Dylan Frittelli, South Africa

20.  Thomas Pieters, Belgium

Among the first-timers heading to Mexico City is the ultra-talented Li, who is China’s top ranked golfer in the Official World Golf Ranking. Having competed in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai on five occasions with a best finish of T7 in 2015, the 22-year-old Li will make the WGC-Mexico Championship his first start in a World Golf Championships event outside of his native China.

Li has risen to No. 57 in the world after a successful summer that included a solo third at The Open Championship, where he carded a final-round 63 at Royal Birkdale.

“I’m really excited about qualifying for the WGC-Mexico Championship in 2018. It is always my ambition to play and compete against the best players in the world, so to get into the elite field is a special feeling,” said Li.

“As it will be my first appearance in the WGC-Mexico Championship, and also my first WGC appearance outside of China, I am determined to make it a memorable week by playing to my best ability and hopefully contending for a win.”

A product of the China Golf Association-HSBC Junior Golf Programme, Li’s rise in the game has been impressive. He established himself as a name to follow by winning three times in the inaugural PGA TOUR-China in 2014 en route to claiming the Order of Merit crown and Player of the Year honors. Last year, he produced a popular home victory at the Volvo China Open and he has since established himself on the European Tour. Li finished fourth in the recent Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player in South Africa, one of five top-10s around the world this year.

Back in form following two runner-up finishes in Italy and Dubai and a T6 in Turkey recently, Kiradech is delighted to earn his third appearance in the WGC-Mexico Championship. With a T18 at the 2015 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play being his best finish in the World Golf Championships, the 28-year-old is eager to improve his record next March. Kiradech holds three wins on the European Tour and two on the Asian Tour.

“I'm really excited to qualify for my third WGC-Mexico Championship. It is always fun to have the opportunity to play in these big tournaments against the top stars in the world. Being the first World Golf Championships of the year, I will be very motivated to produce a strong performance in Mexico and hopefully I can play well over four days to challenge for the title,” said Kiradech, who has seven top-10s around the world this year.

“I have enjoyed a good run of form over the past few months. It’s nice to produce a lot of top-10 finishes but I will be very keen to win again soon. If it can happen at the WGC-Mexico Championship, it will be fantastic. I'm going there with the intention to contend. I've always believed in my own ability and it's just a matter of producing my best golf at the right moment,” added the former Asian Tour No. 1.

 

Once again, the WGC-Mexico Championship will host the best players in the world, with most, if not all the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking expected to compete at Club de Golf Chapultepec. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy finished T7 at the 2017 WGC-Mexico Championship and has solidified his spot in the field in Mexico City with his No. 13 spot on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai ranking, as well as Sweden’s Henrik Stenson (No. 15), who withdrew prior to the 2017 WGC-Mexico Championship due to illness.

 

England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who captured the Race to Dubai title on the European Tour, finished second to Dustin Johnson at the 2017 WGC-Mexico Championship after making a 38-foot birdie on the 18th hole on the last day.

 

“I think definitely myself and the European guys that we talked to, we all love the course,” Fleetwood said following the final round. “It's actually a very European course, so for us it was a good sign when we got here, I think, and it's been a tough test. I think you won't find anybody who's got a bad thing to say about this week.”

Of the top 10 finishers from 2017, six players were from Europe, including four in the top five (Fleetwood, Ross Fisher, Jon Rahm, Thomas Pieters, McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton).