A lifeline for professional golf in Malaysia

Batu Gajah, Perak; June 20: The Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour has been a light at the end of the tunnel for the fraternity of professional golfers in the country.

After years of struggling with internal feuds within the players’ association, which resulted in a drastic drop in corporate sponsorship for tournaments, professionals are now able to breathe a collective sigh of relief with a fixed calendar of tournaments and a more structured and well-managed operational set-up.

Since its launch in December 2010, the professional circuit fully owned and organised by the Professional Golf of Malaysia – a company limited by guarantee – has been pivotal in raising the standard and professionalism of existing professionals as well as providing rookie professionals a sturdy platform to ply their trades and hone their skills for challenges ahead.

Entering the second half of its 16 stops nationwide at the RM150,000 PGM Clearwater Classic this week,the Tour has received the full praise and support of the players.

Leading the chase at the Clearwater Classic is M. Sasidaran (pic), who sits on top of the Order of Merit despite not having won in 2011. After a series of near-misses this year, the 35-year-old from Serendah is eager to get his name of the winners’ list.

“My game is alright but I think I’ve been partially unlucky over the course of the year. I have led after three rounds on a few occasions but each time, I have missed some crucial putts and surrendered the lead. I’ve worked on my short game and hopefully, this week can be my week,” said Sasidaran.

Sasidaran said that overall the players were pleased with the progress of the PGM Tour, despite minor hiccups in the early stages.”I don’t think many people give credit when it is due, but the players are delighted with what the PGM Tour has to offer. We have 16 confirmed tournaments this year aside from our commitments on the Asian Tour, ASEAN PGA Tour as well as other standalone events, we have 23-25 tournaments annually, which is a vital lifeline for anyone on the paid ranks.

“There were obviously some minor hiccups in the early days but tournament by tournament, we can see that the PGM Tour is serious about taking the level of professionalism to the next level,” added Sasidaran, who joked that the PGM Tour has become a competitive ‘training ground’ for the more seasoned professional plying their trade in the regional Tours.

Another beneficiary of the Tour has been newly minted professional Mohd Iylia Jamil, who took to the water like a duck with a winning debut at the PGM Kinrara Classic in March.

“The PGM Tour was one of the main reasons why I decided to take the plunge and turn professional,” said the former top-ranked national amateur. “I had expected this year to be a learning curve but the victory at Kinrara has not only strengthen my resolve but has given me a major confidence boost in these early days,” added the 21-year-old.

The pledge of sustainability given by PGM chairman, Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, has impressed veteran professional Malkit Singh. “We hope this can be a good start for bigger things in the future. More corporate sponsors should emulate the PGM’s effort and come onboard in support. Without their support,how are we to show the younger set of players coming through the ranks that they can carve a career out of playing golf?” he queried.

PGM Melaka Classic winner S. Sivachandhran is the only notable absentee with Sukree Othman and Shaaban Hussin registering as late entrants despite seeing action over the weekend at the Asian Tour’s Queen’s Cup in Samui, Thailand.

PGM ORDER OF MERIT (after PGM Melaka Classic)
1 M. Sasidaran (6) RM52,126.66
2 R. Nachimuthu (8) RM48,705.67
3  S. Sivachandhran (6) RM48,375.00
4 Airil Rizman Zahari (8) RM48,262.00
5 Danny Chia (5) RM42,916.00
6 Sukree Othman (8) RM41,876.67
7 Shaaban Hussin (5) RM40,875.00
8 Kemarol Baharin (8) RM39,534.00
9 Md Rashid Ismail (8) RM37818.00
10 Haziq Hamizan (8) RM29,281.67