Three cheers for Malaysia at CIMB Classic

The Malaysian trio of Nicholas Fung, Danny Chia and Gavin Kyle Green will feature at the CIMB Classic ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung is feeling all excited ahead of next week’s US$7 million CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur.

Fung, who secured his Asian Tour breakthrough at June’s Queen’s Cup in Thailand, will join countrymen Gavin Green and Danny Chia at the showpiece event from October 12-15.

Ranked 302nd on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) as of Monday, Fung earned his place at the CIMB Classic as the highest ranked non-exempt Malaysian.

Green is ranked 157th in the world but is assured of his place in the elite field through the Asian Tour Order of Merit where he is the current number one.

The 27-year-old Fung said being away from the limelight at a tournament which will feature two-time defending champion Justin Thomas and world number three Hideki Matsuyama, will be an advantage.

“It feels good to play in the CIMB Classic again as it was one of my dreams to do so at the start of the year. However, I’m a nobody among the stars so I want to go out there and do my best. There’s no pressure on me,” said Fung.

Next week’s CIMB Classic will include nine Major champions, 10 Presidents Cup team members, 15 players from the top-50 of the Official World Golf Ranking and 18 winners from the recent PGA Tour’s 2016-17 season The top-10 players from the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, as at October 9, will also qualify for the CIMB Classic.

In preparation for the only PGA Tour tournament staged in Southeast Asia, Fung has put in extra hours at the practice range to perfect his tee shots.

“One of the things I learnt from playing in the event is that I need to work a lot on my distances from off the tees. I’ve been training hard to gain more distance. I’ve gained about 10 to 13 yards but I’m not hitting it straight enough,” said Fung, who finished tied-65th at the CIMB Classic in 2014. He also played in 2013.

Green will be riding on a rich vein of form when he spearheads the local charge. He finished tied-69th last year but the Malaysian is now hopeful of a better showing in front of the home crowd after breaking his Asian Tour duck with a win at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters.

“It is a huge deal to me. I’m a little bit more prepared this time. Mentally I’m better. I’m also playing better and it shows in the results,” said Green, who also has three runner-up finishes this year on the Asian Tour.

All eyes will also be on Chia, who will be making his sixth appearance at the CIMB Classic. Chia qualified for the event by winning the CIMB National Championship in July which allocated one of the two sponsor’s exemptions for Malaysian golfers.

He is looking forward to providing fans with a strong performance. “I’m very happy to play in the CIMB Classic again. My best memory was when I played at The MINES with Vijay Singh. I’m glad I put on a good show that year. It was a great experience,” said Chia of his 2011 outing where he posted his best finish of tied-13th place at the CIMB Classic.