Inspired Gavin the best local

Gavin Kyle Green ©The ClubHouse

Johor Bahru: National amateur champion Gavin Kyle Green grabbed an early Christmas gift when he picked up the low amateur prize at the Iskandar Johor Open on Sunday.

Gavin, who turns 19 this December 28, closed his campaign at the rain-wrecked US$2 million full-field Asian Tour event  with a solid one-under 71 for a 54-hole total of seven-under 209.

The University of New Mexico sophomore, playing on a sponsor’s invite, also topped the domestic challenge with a joint 18th finish, three clear of professionals Danny Chia and S. Sivachandhran, who settled for a four-under 212 overall.

Sukree Othman (70) was a further shot back on three-under 261 while R. Nachimuthu was level-par for the tournament after a poor closing one-over 73.

Gavin was expected to shine on back of his brilliant form on the American collegiate scene and he did not disappoint with a confident display at Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club, attracting positive comments from tournament top draws Ernie Els and champion Sergio Garcia, who partnered him during the opening rounds.

“It’s been a great week, I really wished I could have drained more putts but that’s just the game, so not going to dwell on something done and dusted. I knew if I played my game as I have all year that I will finish under-par this week,” shared Gavin, who came back strongly after poor opening few holes during the final round.

“It was pretty rough out there today but I stayed patient and had a couple of birdies. I didn’t finish well after the rain but I’m happy with myself. It is hard to come back after the long suspension,” explained Gavin, who had to endure a three and a half hour suspension to the final round.

The lanky youngster admitted that it been an exciting week of golf even if he had to shake of any effect of jet lag quickly. “It’s been non-stop since I landed on Monday, driving over to Johor and getting ready for this tournament. “Thursday morning, I felt alright but mid-way through the first round, I was feeling wobbly. I managed to steady myself and I got better after that but it’s been a very long and tiring week,” he added.

“I’m pretty proud of myself but I don’t think I’m really surprised [to have finished as the best Malaysian] because I was aiming a little bit higher for myself this week and I knew I was in it for sure.”

While admitting that he had felt nervous on the first tee on Tuesday alongside players of such pedigree as Els and Garcia, Gavin admitted that he gained much from the experience.

“I definitely picked up a lot because when you play with living legends like Ernie and Sergio you really notice a lot of things and I am pretty sure I am walking home a more inspired and better player.

“It was a proud moment to out-drive them on some of the holes but I definitely have to work harder on my short game if I am to match their overall game,” he concluded.