Khai Jei scores surprise MCM invite

Low Khai Jei ©Mike Casper|AAC

KUALA LUMPUR: Newly-minted professional Low Khai Jei is among five up-and-coming ASEAN professionals to be handed valuable starts at the inaugural Maybank Championship Malaysia in February.

The 19-year-old, who joined the play-for-pay ranks a fortnight ago,  will take the number of Malaysians playing in the US$3 million tournament to 16.

Low is joined by Indonesia’s George Gandranata, Koh Dengshan of Singapore, Vietnamese star Michael Tran and reigning Myanmar Golf Tour winner Zaw Zaw Latt in a formidable field already boasting the likes of Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Danny Willet, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee.

Also making his way to Royal Selangor Golf Club for the prestigious championship, jointly sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours, is Thriston Lawrence – the 2015 Middle East North African Tour (MENA) Order of Merit champion.

Low was the highest-ranked Malaysian amateur coming into 2016 and the Taiping native was relieved that his calculated move to turn professional did not back fire.

“Many people were saying that I made a mistake [by turning professional] because I could have secured an amateur start in the Maybank Championship Malaysia. But I believed that I was ready to make the move to the professional ranks and I’m delighted that Maybank have recognised the potential in me.

“Playing in an Asian and European Tours co-sanctioned event is a bonus for a rookie professional like me and I hope to rise up to the challenge,” said Low, who became only the third amateur to win on the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour last year.

Low was the only Malaysian to play all four rounds during the final stage of the Asian Tour Qualifying School (ATQS) last month and despite not making the mark, believes that his experience playing on the PGM Tour would help him during this transition period.

“I’ve cut my teeth on the professional domestic circuit over the last year and I think I learnt a lot about my game and myself. The margin for success in the professional game is so slim and I was disappointed with how I fared at Qualifying School. But I don’t want to dwell on it because the Maybank Championship Malaysia represents a massive opportunity for me,” he added.