Taichi Kho said he felt “a sense of belonging” as his three-week stint on the Asian Tour comes to an end at the International Series Korea.
The Hong Kong amateur went into this week’s tournament after two strong showings in previous events, finishing in a tie for 11th at the Mandiri Indonesia Open, and tied for 63rd at last week’s International Series Singapore.
For Kho, the past three weeks have also boosted his confidence, and while he believed his result in Singapore did not reflect how well he played, the more he competed the more he realised he could cut it “at the very top of the leader board”.
The 22-year-old posted a two-over-par 73 in the first round on Jeju Island on Thursday to sit 10 shots off the lead, as Pavit Tangkamolprasert led the way with an eight-under-par 63 at Lotte Skyhill Country Club.
Taichi Kho has said that he would be keen to play in the Asian Tour Q-school. Photo: Asian Tour
The brief time spent on tour has given Kho a glimpse into the realities of life as a professional golfer, and he said it only reinforced his desire to join their ranks.
“I definitely feel a sense of belonging out here, it’s really nice to get to know quite a few of the guys and get into a routine of when to do practice rounds, when to do my drills, and how to get mentally ready to compete,” he said.
“I just feel really good about getting into the rhythm of it and it just reinforces that I want to do this as a career.”
For many, the Asian Tour could well be the place to be in the next couple of years, as the money pumped into the International Series by LIV Golf raises the stakes and attracts players from other tours.
Scott Hend, who has represented Australia at the Olympics and is a veteran of several tours around the world, said in a tweet that the regional tour “might even get stronger than the DP World Tour”.
While Hend acknowledged people may laugh at that suggestion, he pointed to the affordability of the Asian Tour’s Q-school and the “massive carrot” at the end.
And in reference to the civil war breaking out in the game between the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational events, Hend said the Asian Tour also benefited from not being “a lapdog” for the US-based circuit.
“I see [Asian Tour] Q-school being very busy in January,” he tweeted.
Hend’s belief in the future of the tour appears to be mirrored by other golfers, and Kho said there was a lot of excitement among the players on the potential it had.
“People who are playing on other tours in Asia or Europe or wherever, they used to skip around, but for the next few years they are saying their focus is solely on the Asian Tour because of the opportunities,” Kho said.
“So, it’s clearly finding its time and I’m really glad to be a part of the start of that.”
The Hongkonger, who has a year left at the University of Notre Dame, said if the timing worked out he would “love to do the Asian Tour Q-school”, but acknowledged the Korn Ferry Tour, which acts as a feeder system for the PGA Tour, was also a possibility.
“How college golf is working out with the rankings, I think it’s the top 15 get some form of status on the Korn Ferry,” Kho said. “Going on to next year there are plenty of opportunities and this week is a good opportunity as well, so I’m just trying to make the most of what I’ve got.”