Dream start for Team Malaysia in Melbourne

©William West|AFP|Getty
Team Malaysia's Ben Leong (L) and Gavin Green pose with the World Cup of Golf trophy in Melbourne

KUALA LUMPUR: Ben Leong and Gavin Green flew the Malaysian flag high at the ISPS HANDA Melbourne World Cup of Golf as they signed for an opening nine-under-par 63 to trail by one shot after the first round’s fourball format on Thursday.

The duo, playing in the World Cup of Golf for the first time, credited their strong teamwork for strong start as they combined for two eagles and five birdies at The Metropolitan Golf Club  in the 28-nation team competition.

Green and Leong sits in fourth place alongside Team Belgium (Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry) and Team Denmark (Thorbjørn Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen), who won the first World Cup of Golf for their country, also in Melbourne, two years ago.

Green, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, took advantage of his booming drives to nail an eagle on the par-five seventh hole before adding three birdies on holes 10, 13 and 18.

“It was good team golf really. I think it was just solid all around. Started off strong, gave ourselves a couple of looks but didn’t drop. Obviously, it started to drop in the middle of the round, so we just kind of stayed patient really.

The holes I birdied, he didn’t birdie, so we always had alternate holes, which we did well on and it is a good thing especially in this format.  We just kind of kept it going, kept it rolling,” noted Green.

Leong, a one-time Asian Tour winner, overcame a nervy start by contributing an eagle on the par five ninth hole, as well as two birdies on the sixth and 14th holes. He had opened with a double-bogey and a bogey while Green made pars to steady the Malaysian team.

“It was great, besides the first hole. Having Gavin beside me really calmed me down definitely. It’s been great. I guess we did really well today, we timed it really well. The holes he made par, I made birdie. The holes I made bogey, he made par. It’s been a great day.

“It’s not going to change much for the foursomes tomorrow, I think. Gavin’s going to go odd, so we’ll see how it goes.  It depends on the weather as well. We just try to make things easy for each other out there,” shared the Sabahan.

The Malaysian duo is part of the six Asian nations in the field hoping to hoist the famous trophy at the US$7 million event, won previously by many legends of the games. They will play alongside Team Australia in the Foursomes (alternate shot) format on Friday.