Malaysia’s Arie Irawan will make his debut in the CIMB Classic following compatriot Danny Chia’s qualification through the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit. The US$7 million PGA Tour event begins on Thursday at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
The CIMB Classic traditionally accords two sponsors exemptions to Malaysian golf professionals – the winner of the Sapura Kencana National Qualifier and the highest ranked Malaysian in the OWGR. Chia had gained entry into the 2015 event through the latter criteria but his strong performance in recent weeks vaulted him into the Top 10 of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, opening the door for Arie to play by virtue of being the second highest Malaysian on the OWGR.
Arie commented: “It is an honour and I am blessed to be given the exemption to play at the CIMB Classic, my first PGA TOUR tournament and it is indeed one of the highlights of my career. This will be a whole new experience especially competing amongst the world’s top best golfers and I hope to play at my best.”
“This is great news and its always pleasing to have an additional Malaysian in the field. We’ve always said we will reserve two exemptions to Malaysians and we’re happy to follow that through given Danny Chia’s outright qualification. I wish Arie well as he makes his debut at the CIMB Classic”, said Effendy Shahul Hamid, CEO, Group Asset Management and Investment, CIMB Group.
Arie is the only player to win twice on the Asian Development Tour so far this season, claiming his breakthrough victory at the PGM Sime Darby Harvard Championship earlier in January followed by ICTSI Eagle Ridge Invitational in April.
Chia previously held the exemption as the highest ranked Malaysian on the Official World Golf Ranking as at September 30. However, a victory at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters and a T8 at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship earlier this month moved him into the top-10 of the ATOM to qualify outright for the CIMB Classic.
Also debuting at the CIMB Classic is Ben Leong, who earned his spot by winning the SapuraKencana National Qualifier in August. The Malaysian trio will face-off against international stars that include Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els.