Malaysia’s Gavin Green will lead the Asian Tour challenge at the US$7 million CIMB Classic, which starts at TPC Kuala Lumpur this Thursday.
The current Asian Tour number one will be joined by reigning Order of Merit champion Scott Hend of Australia, David Lipsky of the United States and SSP Chawrasia of India at TPC Kuala Lumpur’s West Course. Young Thai talents Phachara Khongwatmai, Poom Saksansin and Jazz Janewattananond will make their debuts in the event, alongside veteran compatriot Prayad Marksaeng, Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines and Richard T. Lee of Canada.
The big-hitting Green is hoping for a good result at the CIMB Classic so that he can extend his Order of Merit lead and become the first Malaysian to win the accolade. This will be the second time he will be playing in the event but with much greater significance as the money he earns now counts on the Order of Merit.
“This time, it will definitely be more special playing in the CIMB Classic because the money will be counted on the Order of Merit. My goals have changed so much since India (Hero Indian Open in February) and I’m thinking about the Order of Merit. It will be a huge deal to win the Order of Merit,” said Green.
Hend finished tied seventh in the CIMB Classic last year after shooting 14-under in the weekend which included a sparkling third round 63. He struggled with food poisoning at the start of the week which resulted in an opening 74. The Australian’s best result this year was finishing second at the Omega European Masters where he lost in a play-off.
The baby-faced Poom won his second Asian Tour title in India in August followed by a runner-up result in Japan last month. He is excited to make his first appearance at the CIMB Classic.
“I didn’t think I can qualify for the CIMB Classic but I played so well in the last few months so I’m really happy I’m playing in the event. I will try my best to treat it like any other tournament but I think the experience of playing in the event will help me a lot,” said the 24-year-old.
The leading 10 players on the Asian Tour Order of Merit as of October 9 qualified for the CIMB Classic, which is the only PGA Tour co-sanctioned tournament in Southeast Asia. Daisuke Kataoka of Japan, ranked fifth on the Merit ranking, is not eligible to play as he did not play two full-field Asian Tour events.