Ben Leong hopes a positive mind-set and fatherhood will guide him to victory in the inaugural Sarawak Championship in Kuching in two weeks’ time. The US$300,000 Asian Tour event tees off at Damai Golf & Country Club on July 4-7.
It has been a solid year so far for the 32-year-old Malaysian on the Asian Tour, with his best result being a T10 finish at April’s Panasonic Open in Japan. Off the golf course, Leong and wife Chai Kai Nee welcomed their first child, a boy, who was born while Leong was playing in Japan.
“It has been great being a new father and seeing my son growing up. I tend to miss him more now when I’m travelling so it is nice to have a full field Asian Tour event in Malaysia. It is not far from home and it will be fun. The Damai course is also a nice track so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Leong, who hails from Kota Kinabalu in the neighbouring state of Sabah.
With four missed cuts in nine Asian Tour appearances so far this year, Leong believes he needs to find his A-Game in a busy stretch of events coming up.
“I have good memories winning in Malaysia. Every Malaysian golfer will be excited to play in the event. I would give myself a ‘B’ on the report card for being patient and positive even though I think I don’t have my A Game yet.
“I’ve really been grinding out in my last few tournaments. I want to try to work towards playing my best golf again,” said Leong.
Leong was hailed as the next star to emerge from the country when he won his first Asian Tour title in the 2008 Selangor Masters before a serious back injury curtailed his career. He is beginning to show signs of a career revival since earning his Asian Tour card by finishing fourth at the 2017 Qualifying School in Thailand before going on to win on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) in the same year.
Leong also finished 40th on the Habitat for Humanity Standings last year to retain a full Asian Tour card. He now aims to return to the winner’s circle’s at the new Asian Tour event.
Leong will be joined by fellow Sabahan and Asian Tour winner Nicholas Fung while Indian stalwarts Shiv Kapur and Gaganjeet Bhullar, along with John Catlin and Paul Peterson of the United States will spearhead the international challenge.
The Sarawak Championship will have a total of 150 players, including a minimum of 25 Malaysian golfers contending for the title. It is the third new Asian Tour event announced this year following the Asia-Pacific Classic in China and CNS Open Golf Championship in Pakistan.