The Tour hopefuls come from over 30 countries with Japan contributing the highest number of players with 129 entries, followed by Korea (121 players), Australia (77 players), United States (67 players), Thailand (56 players) and Chinese Taipei (52 players).
A total of 605 players will tee up for the First Stage Section A and Section B which will be played over the next two weeks in Hua Hin, Thailand.
The First Stage Section A will be held at the Imperial Lakeview Golf Club, Royal Thai Army Sports Centre and Banyan Golf Club from January 9 to 12 while the First Stage Section B will be held at the Imperial Lakeview and Springfield Royal Country Club from January 16 to 19.
After four rounds, the top 15% players from each venue will qualify for the all-important Final Stage from January 23 to 26. A total of 156 players are already exempted into the all-important Final Stage at the Imperial Lakeview and Springfield Royal where the top-40 finishers and ties will earn their Tour cards for 2013.
Amongst the notable names in Stage One include the highly rated Rashid Khan of India, Won Joon Lee of Australia, former European Tour player Pelle Edberg of Sweden and 2000 Malaysian Open champion Yeh Wei-tze of Chinese Taipei.
For the Final Stage, the aspirants include Jake Higginbottom of Australia, who won the 2012 New Zealand Open as an amateur, Prince Hakeem Jefri of Brunei Darussalam, Alex Cejka of Germany, who is a four-time winner in Europe and a former PGA Tour regular, Han Chang-won of Korea, the 2009 Asian Amateur Championship winner and Kenichi Kuboya, a multiple winner in Japan.
The promising Khalin Joshi of India, Ratanon Wannasrichan of Thailand, Nguyen Thai Duong of Vietnam, Nicholas Fung of Malaysia, Eddie Lee of New Zealand, who won the 2000 Maekyung Open in Korea as an amateur, Thai sensation Atiwit Janewattananond and Chinese duo Hu Mu and Ye Jian-feng are among the players exempted into the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage presented by Sports Authority of Thailand.
The record number of entries surpasses last year's total of 580 players, signalling the immense appeal of the Asian Tour as the Qualifying School is the only pathway to compete on the Asian Tour and Asian Development Tour, which will be afforded with Official World Golf Ranking status from this year onwards.
Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han said: "We are delighted to receive such an overwhelming response from players, both from Asia and around the world, for this year's Qualifying School.
"The record numbers is another strong testament towards the Asian Tour's stature in world golf and shows that global players view the Asian Tour as the destination to build their careers.
"As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia and being a full member of the International Federation of PGA Tours, the Asian Tour will continue to deliver widespread playing opportunities and provide the best pathway for players in Asia to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro through the Official World Golf Ranking."
Other countries with players in the 2012 Asian Tour Qualifying School include Kevin Chun, who was part of the 2004 Eisenhower Trophy team for New Zealand, Indonesians Rory Hie and Benny Kasiadi and Wolmer Murillo of Venezuela and the 2011 European Amateur Champion Manuel Trappel of Austria.
In 2012, the Asian Tour offered 2,975 Official World Golf Ranking points to players, which will be used to determine the field for the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro in 2016.
Many of the leading Asian Tour tournaments offer strong world ranking points. The final two tournaments of the 2012 season, the Thailand Golf Championship, provided 36 points to the winner and a total of 192 points for the event. It received the highest points worldwide that week compared to the Nelson Mandela Championship in South Africa and the Australian Open.
The season-ending Iskandar Johor Open offered 20 world ranking points to the winner and a 89 points to the field, which was the highest in the Asia Pacific region.
Qualifying School players who do not finish in the top-40 at the Final Stage for their Asian Tour cards will receive playing privileges on the Asian Development Tour.
Last year, a total of 27 events were sanctioned by the Asian Tour while the Asian Development Tour held 13 tournaments on its schedule.
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