As the Asian Tour gears up for the third International Series event of 2023 at Black Mountain GC in Thailand, 9-12 March, professionals have been united in praise for the season openers in the Middle East. 161 players representing 31 different countries have teed up in The International Series 2023 to date at tournaments in Oman and Qatar.

Japan’s Takumi Kanaya claimed victory at Al Mouj Golf in Oman, followed by Andy Ogletree from the United States in Qatar who became the first two-time International Series winner. The 24-year-old has earned US$496,750 from his two International Series appearances of 2023 and now sits atop both the Asian Tour Order of Merit and International Series Order of Merit.

Singing the praises of his experience in Qatar following his victory, he said: “I am super pleased to be the champion here, it’s unbelievable!

“The International Series is generating very strong fields and I would like to think this is definitely growing the game by heading to different countries. I am super proud to win a golf tournament playing like this.”

Three-time Asian Tour winner Sangmoon Bae rolled back the years, securing his first top 10 finish since his military service ended in 2017. He said of Qatar: "I love this country and I’m so excited to be here." Fellow Korean Bio Kim was similarly outspoken about the venue, he added: “I haven’t been to Qatar before, but the views from this golf course are amazing.”

Securing a tied 13th finish at the International Series Qatar, South African Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion and LIV Golf London 2022 winner, shared many fond memories of the country having first played in Qatar 20 years ago. Reminiscing about his Doha debut, he said: “I’ve been coming here since I first got my tour card in 2003, which was my first full year out.

“This was always one of the better stops. They’ve lengthened it and made other changes but being here brings back nice memories.” The International Series comprises of 10 events on the Asian Tour schedule, enhanced to provide more playing opportunities with elevated prize funds and a pathway to the biggest stages in golf.

The International Series returns to Thailand at the Black Mountain Golf Club from 9-12 March 2023 for the third series event of 2023, with a guaranteed minimum prize purse of $2m.

Phachara Khongwatmai, who finished tied fourth in Qatar, discussed returning to his home country. He said: “I’m looking to be the winner because that one last year, I finished second, hopefully I can win this year.”

Fellow countryman and 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit Champion Jazz Janewatananond also outlined his excitement for the series to return to Black Mountain Golf Club: “It’s amazing because the first ever International Series event played last year was at Black Mountain Golf Club. Playing in front of my family and in front of Thai fans is going to be amazing.”