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Mina stays top of the class at Q-School

Eric MinaLOS ANGELES, California, Jan 31 - Rookie American professional Eric Mina fired a brilliant third-round six-under 66 on Thursday to take command of OneAsia's Q-School at Industry Hills Golf Club in Los Angeles, California.

Leading the field by two overnight, Mina eased to 15 under for the tournament, four shots ahead of Korean Lim Hyun-seok (66), with Canadian Ryan Yip (69) and American John Young Kim (70) two strokes further adrift.

Nearly 200 players signed up for the final stages of 2013 Q-School, with 10 spots up for grabs in California and 14 at Sutera Harbour Golf Club in Kota Kinabalu from February 5 - 8.

The aim for the California leg was to attract the Asia-Pacific players who base themselves on the U.S. west coast for college or training during winter, and also young professionals from north America with roots across the Pacific.

Mina, 25, who hails from California but has family in the Philippines, turned professional only last year after finishing studies at Berkeley. Compact and measured, he has a clear path mapped out for his future and refuses to be distracted along the way.

"I'm really pleased with the way I played today, but it is a four-day tournament and there is a lot to play for," said Mina.

A win in Los Angeles or Malaysia next week is rewarded by a start in all OneAsia's world-ranked million-dollar tournaments -- including the national Open championships of Australia, China, Korea and Thailand -- but Mina wouldn't mind having to rethink his plans.

"It would be a great accomplishment," he said.

"When a tournament is said and done, and you've done well, you've got to congratulate yourself."

Second placed Lim, born in Korea but brought up in southern California, said he probably wouldn't have entered Q-School had a leg not also been held in Los Angeles as he couldn't justify the travel.

"Having the tournament here was a big advantage for me as I'm not sure I could have gone to Malaysia. However, now I really want to do well tomorrow. This is a big opportunity for me," he said.

"It would be a really big thing if I could get to play on OneAsia."

Masamichi Ito, at 17 the youngest player in the field, was delighted to be in seventh place after learning about qualifying on the Japan Golf Tour Organisation's (JGTO) Challenge Tour.

"I heard about OneAsia in Japan and thought it was better to come here for me," said Ito.

The JGTO and OneAsia have forged a growing relationship that includes two tournaments being co-sanctioned by both bodies this year -- including the season-opening U.S.$ 1 million Thailand Open from March 14-17.