Leong takes local honours

Ben Leong ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse

Shah Alam [Selangor]: Ben Leong had something to smile about after finishing just outside the top-ten at the Maybank Championship on  Sunday.

Matching 69s on the weekend led to a tie for 12th on nine-under 279 at the US$3 million tournament, leaving the 31-year-old Sabahan as the best-placed Malaysian in the field.

“It was a mixed bag – I hit some good and poor shots but didn’t end up with anything bad. I stayed within the game and it was all good,” said the one-time Asian Tour winner, who traded six birdies against three bogeys in the final round.

“It’s a good week – results wise but there’s always room for improvement. Ball striking was good and putted fairly well, eventhough I could have done a lot better in converting those half-chances.”

After missing two consecutive cuts at the SMBC Singapore Open and Leopalace 21 Myanmar Open, Leong was delighted to pick up a pay cheque of US$43,575, which would go a long way towards preserving his playing rights on the region’s premier circuit.

“I needed a big week after missing cuts in the last two Asian Tour events. I had to make a big amount ahead of the re-rank, so that I would be eligible to play in the bigger events later in the year and a top-20 here definitely helps,” shared Leong, adding that he was not shocked by his inability to transfer his hot domestic  form to the regional stage.

“I would usually start panicking after that two missed cuts,  but 10 years as a professional as taught me to not force that issue too much. I learnt that you don’t have to be perfect and that’s the great thing about golf,” he added.

Maybank ambassador Gavin Kyle Green ended his campaign with a round of 71 to finish in a tie for 47th on three-under 285 alongside low amateur Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz (74), who announced his intention to join the professional ranks after an admirable display.

They were followed closely by Nicholas Fung, who finished a stroke adrift in joint 52nd after a third identical even-par effort with Danny Chia (73) a further shot back on one-under 287.

There, however, proved no respite for Arie Irawan – a round of six-over 78 leaving him last of the 69 players that advanced into the weekend.