Siva confident that locals can end Malaysian Open drought

Kuala Lumpur: Local professional S. Sivachandhran (pic) is confident that the growing number of golf tournaments in Malaysia will arm the local stars with the ammunition to take aim at the Maybank Malaysian Open next week.

The on-going success of the Asian Tour, the Asian Development Tour (ADT) and the emergence of the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour has provided the platform for Malaysian players to enhance their game.

Sivachandhran believes that more tournament play will help enhance the search for a first Malaysian winner in their own national championship which celebrates its 51st edition from April 12 to 15, 2012.

“Previously, we didn’t have many local tournaments but since last year we have been busy playing in tournaments. We’ve got a better chance of playing well now because the local players get to play in many events throughout the year,” said the 33-year-old from Sungai Petani.

In the past seven seasons, a total of 21 Asian Tour tournaments have been staged in Malaysia worth in excess of US$31 million in total prize money. Other important tournaments such as the Qualifying School, World Cup Qualifying and Open Championship – IFQ Asia have also been hosted in Malaysia which have been instrumental in growing the sport in the country, said Siva Chandhran.

In addition to the Asian Tour events, the ADT will stage 12 tournaments in Malaysia from 2010 till the end of this year through a partnership with the burgeoning domestic tour.

Sivachandhran, the only Malaysian to win multiple titles on the ADT, believes the change in the golfing landscape in the country could end Malaysia’s long wait for a local winner in the US$2.5 million Maybank Malaysian Open.

“I’m sure that will push us into the next gear. It has kept us busy and hopefully the momentum will continue for us,” added the slightly built golfer, who will start the European and Asian Tours co-sanctioned event on an invite by the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA).

After topping the ADT money list, Sivachandhran joined countrymen Danny Chia and Ben Leong on the region’s established Tour, an experience which he says has helped him become a better golfer.

“I had more opportunities to play in the bigger events which gave me an entire different experience by playing on different courses around the region. I also gained a lot more confidence that has helped my game,” said Siva Chandhran.

Over the last few season, Danny Chia, Malaysia’s first winner on the Asian Tour, has carried the Malaysian hopes in the Open. Chia challenged for the title in 2008 and was the halfway leader in the following year before finishing tied 11th place.

However, Sivachandhran believes more of the Malaysian players will have to step up and aim to shine among the elite cast set to gather at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club next week.

“Obviously, it is great to be playing in your own national Open. It’s every Malaysian player’s dream to win it. The thought of playing in your own national Open is an inspiration for us and we all hope of winning it,” said sivachandhran.