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Liang eyes ticket for US Open
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China's Liang Wenchong will be aiming to complete his "grand slam" of major appearances by qualifying for the US Open in Japan next week.

The reigning Asian Tour No. 1 has signed up for the 36-hole qualifier at Ibaraki Country Club's West Course in Osaka on Monday, with the aim of making it through to Torrey Pines, venue of the US Open in June.

"This is the first time that I'm going to compete in the qualifying for the US Open and I'm hoping to get through," said Liang, the first Chinese to lift the Asian Tour's Order of Merit crown last season.

The 29-year-old made his major debut at the US PGA Championship last season and was invited to play in the US Masters last month. As Asia's No. 1, Liang is exempted into the British Open in July, leaving the US Open as the only major which is not listed yet on his impressive resume.

The tenacious Chinese has shown in recent times that he is regaining his best form after finishing second in the Japan PGA Championship last weekend. Liang admitted that his early-season performances had been lackluster due to his over-anxiety ahead of his Masters appearance.

"When I received the invitation for the Masters, I had all sorts of thoughts in my mind and it affected my game and preparation," he said. "But now, I feel like I'm starting to play my best golf again."

Liang will be amongst a selected group of Asian Tour stalwarts who will head to Ibaraki for the US Open qualifying. Thai duo Prayad Marksaeng and Thaworn Wiratchant along with Filipino Artemio Murakami are the other players who have entered.

Prayad, winner of the Volvo Masters of Asia in Bangkok last December, will be hoping a successful qualifying campaign will give him the chance to redeem himself in the US. He played at the Masters last month but withdrew midway through the second round with injury.

Thaworn's lone major appearance was at the 2006 British Open in Royal Liverpool where he finished a respectable tied 31st.

Murakami, winner of the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia last season, will be hoping to earn his maiden major appearance.

(Agencies via Shanghai Daily May 21, 2008)

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