Khai Jei upbeat ahead of Clearwater test

Low Khai Jei ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse
Low Khai Jei ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian top amateur Low Khai Jei will look to translate his domestic form into success in Asia’s elite amateur competition when he leads a six-strong Malaysian line-up at the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) this week.

The 19-year-old Taiping native has enjoyed an explosive season on the local front, making good use of his amateur starts on the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour.

On the back of a consistent run of top-ten finishes, Low became only the third amateur to win on the flourishing domestic circuit with a convincing five-shot victory at the Orna Championship in August. He was also the best-placed local with a joint-ninth finish at the 113th Malaysian Amateur Open.

Ranked 156th on the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Low is eager to prove his worth – in what may well be his final appearance at the prestigious tournament, which is a partnership between the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, The Masters Tournament and The R&A

“This is the tournament that any aspiring amateur in the Asia-Pacific region would like to participate in and I have had the privilege of securing an invite for the fifth consecutive time. It’s truly the highlight of my year.

“I was disappointed to miss the halfway cut in Melbourne last year after three straight finishes as the best-placed Malaysian and I hope to make up for that.

“This may well represent my final chance of claiming that elusive leaderboard finish at the AAC before I consider my future move,” said Low, whose previous best finish was tied 12th, which he achieved as a 15-year-old debutant in 2011.

The former national admits that playing among the professionals has re-build his confidence, which took a nosedive after struggles with a new swing regime saw him being axed from the national line-up earlier this year.

“I went through a tough patch after my swing change with Butch Harmon mid last year. My results dipped, I was struggling for form and my confidence took a beating. But I’ve worked hard on perfecting my swing over time and playing on the PGM Tour has added a new dimension to my game. I have developed a stronger mindset and I’m no longer scared to shoot low numbers, because that’s the criteria for survival on the professional scene,” he added.

He is relishing a return to the challenging Clearwater Bay Golf & Country Club where he had previously tasted success, winning the boys’ individual honours during 51st South East Asia Amateur Golf Team Championship for the Lion City Cup.

“It’s probably one of the best championship golf courses that I’ve played but given that is has been described as Asia’s answer to Pebble Beach, managing the wind would be crucial. It’s not the longest golf course out there but it would require some precise play. Fortunately, I’ve played a competitive tournament here previously and won it, which is great help but the pressure will definitely be there come Thursday.”

Joining Low in the field for the seventh edition of the AAC are Ervin Chang, Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz, Galven Kendall Green, Mohd Afif Mohd Razif and Chan Tuck Soon.