Green claims historic Asian Tour Merit title win

Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images

Gavin Green made history by becoming the first Malaysian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit following his tied-19th finish at the R16.5 million (approx. US$1.2 million) Joburg Open today.

The big-hitting Green opened up an unassailable lead on the merit list , earning US$13,277.40 to take his total earnings for 2017 to US$585,813.46 with one event left. The 23-year-old is now the second youngest golfer to win the accolade after Korea’s Seungyul Noh, who was 19 when he won the merit title in 2010.

“After 12 months, here we are, on top! It is an amazing feeling. There were so many good guys who had a chance to win it. Thankfully, this week came around well. I’m going to enjoy it,” said Green, who carded rounds of 70, 67, 70 and 70 for a 10-under-par total.

The tournament was won by rising Indian player Shubhankar Sharma with an impressive total of 23-under-par 264 at Randpark Golf Club.

By finishing on top of the Order of Merit, Green earns a five-year exemption on the Asian Tour and spots at next year’s British Open as well as the WGC-Mexico Championship. He will also represent Team Asia at the upcoming EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club on January 12-14.

Green’s 2017 season started on the back of a promising year in 2016 where he won twice on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) to finish second on the ADT Order of Merit and secure his Asian Tour card for 2017.

After an understated start to the 2017 season, Green came alive with a second-placed finish at the Hero Indian Open in March. That performance sparked a brilliant run of form where he would go on to secure a T2 finish at the Yeangder Heritage and T10 result at the Thailand Open.

Green was on the verge of his breakthrough at the Shinhan Donghae Open in September but several costly missed putts on the final day saw him finishing second again.

The Malaysian’s maiden Asian Tour win finally came at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters a fortnight later, which saw him take over the lead on the Order of Merit – a position he never relinquished. His two-shot victory in the seaside town of Tamsui was an emotional one as he dedicated that win to his late grandfather.

“He really wanted to see me win and I really tried to win it for him in Korea (at the Shinhan Donghae Open). I didn’t and he passed away. It was tough because he was in Malaysia. I think his death pushed me to try harder and win. He was definitely with me today,” said Green in his victory speech then.

The Malaysian had ample chances before the Joburg Open to wrap up the merit title, but it was only in South Africa that everything fell into place.

“Coming into the last couple of events, I really wanted to close it but it was so tough because I had so much on my mind. It was frustrating I didn’t shut the door earlier.

“This week, I went out and did my own thing and things clicked well. It has been a long journey but there’s a lot of happiness. This title win is overwhelming and it will be a huge for my career. Hopefully from here, I just keep getting better,” said Green.

Green will aim to end his season on a high note in this week’s US$750,000 Indonesian Masters at Royale Jakarta, which brings the curtain down on the 2017 Asian Tour. The winner receives US$135,000 as well as a minimum of 20 Official Golf World Ranking points and an invitation to the 2018 WGC – Bridgestone Invitational.

2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit (Top 10 following Joburg Open)
1. Gavin GREEN (MAS) – US$585,813
2. David LIPSKY (USA) – US$461,179
3. SSP CHAWRASIA (IND) – US$440,747
4. Scott HEND (AUS) – US$439,229
5. Wade ORMSBY (AUS) – US$423,896
6. Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) – US$379,535
7. Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) – US$364,799
8. Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) – US$326,678
9. Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) – US$305,925
10. Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) – US$284,489
28. Nicholas FUNG (MAS) – US$153,201
40. Ben LEONG (MAS) – US$103,131
42. Danny CHIA (MAS) – US$93,755

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