Shanghai [CHINA]: Malaysia’s top-ranked amateur Ervin Chang hopes to commemorate the fighting spirit of his late mentor Arie Irawan with an inspired showing at the 11th playing of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, which starts Thursday.
The Liberty University senior headlines a four-strong Malaysian line-up, which includes Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi as well as debutants Adam Arif Madzri and Malcolm Ting, at the acclaimed Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai, China.
Chang equalled the best finish by a Malaysian at the elite amateur championship last year when he settled for outright seventh at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore and is raring for another tilt at the biggest honour in Asia-Pacific amateur golf.
“This event is very prestigious for all amateur players. The winner of this tournament gets to play The Masters, and obviously, that’s a big motivation! It’s a privilege, and I’m thrilled to be here,” said the Kuala Lumpur native, who is making his fourth appearance at the championship.
The strapping amateur admits that he still finds it difficult to accept the passing of Arie Irawan, who was one of his closest confidantes on-and-off the course in recent years.
“Arie and I were very close – we were regularly in touch, and he was always generous with his time and attention. I was fortunate to have a wonderful mentor like him – his advice and guidance played an important role in shaping my amateur career. He used to take me under his wings, and we use to go out and play and practice together every time I was in Kuala Lumpur.
One of Malaysia’s and the region’s most promising talents, Arie – a two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour – passed away of apparent natural causes in China earlier in April.
“For a long time, I felt a little guilty that I wasn’t able to come back for his funeral, but I made it a point to pay my respects in July and meet his family, which was an important closure for me. Arie’s dad [Ahmad Fauzi Ghazali] told me that the best thing I could do to honour Arie’s legacy was to continue in my pursuit of excellence and I hope to do just that with a good showing here,” shared Chang.
Jet lag is a significant concern for the 21-year-old, who only arrived on Tuesday night after being twice delayed en-route to Shanghai from his Virginia base.
“I only played one practice round today, so I had to make full use of what I can today. I was able to see some of the golf course, judge where I want to aim and where I do not want to hit it to. We have to see how tomorrow goes as things can be a little different with the wind condition or like the weather.
“I’ve been trying to get as much sleep as possible and hopefully, lights out early tonight and try to shrug off the cobwebs,” shared the world number 88, who tees off at 11:00 am tomorrow.