Gavin spearheads local challenge at Malaysian Open

KUALA LUMPUR: National No. 1 Gavin Kyle Green will spearhead a 30-strong local golf contingent for the Malaysian Open at the Mines Resort and Country Club on Feb 15-18.

The 30-year-old, who has a week off from his DP World Tour (European Tour) schedule, will continue his pursuit of becoming the first Malaysian winner of the tournament since its inception in 1962.

The only local who came closest to victory was the late P. Gunasegaran, who finished joint runner-up following a three-way playoff won by Sweden's Joakim Haeggman.

Gavin's most memorable outing in the national Open was tying for 22nd place in the 2013 edition when he was still an amateur.

The other Malaysians capable of contending are Ben Leong, Shahriffuddin Ariffin and Ervin Chang.

Ben and Shahriffuddin both retained their Asian Tour cards by finishing in the top 65 on the Order of Merit last year, while Ervin is set for his rookie season after earning a promotion through last year's Asian Development Tour.

Former Asian Tour winners Nicholas Fung and Danny Chia were among the eight players securing their places by virtue of being the leading eight money leaders of last year's Toyota Tour.

The other six were Paul San, Galven Green (the younger brother of Gavin), Amir Nazrin Jailani, Khor Kheng Hwai, Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Azi and R. Nachimuthu.

Two spots were also up for grabs through the Professional Golfers Association of Malaysia one-day qualifier at the Seri Selangor Golf Club on Jan 31, and they were won by Danial Faidz and Nor Heikal Nor Hadi.

For the four local amateur spots, the Malaysian Golf Association had filled them with Anson Yeo, Hariz Hezri, Zia Iqmal Abdul Rashid and A. Nateeshvar.

Among the notable names who gained entry through sponsors' invitations were seasoned campaigners Airil Rizman Zahari, Sukree Othman, Jeremiah Kim and V. Khavish Varman, a member of the 2021 Sea Games gold medal-winning team.

These local players will have a shot not just at claiming a historic victory and the US$180,000 (RM856,000) winner's jackpot, but also coveted tickets to the British Open from July 18-21.

The Malaysian Open has been included as part of The Open Qualifying Series, wherein the leading three finishers, who have yet to qualify, will be granted a start at the Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland.

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