Title holder Gavin Green is aiming for a successful defence at this week’s CIMB National Championship. The winner of the event, which tees off on Tuesday, will earn a cheque of RM30,000 and a prized spot in the CIMB Classic this October 12-15.
The 23-year-old Green won last year’s qualifying event, known formerly as the SapuraKencana National Classic, after defeating Ben Leong on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff at TPC Kuala Lumpur. Although Green can also qualify for the US$7 million CIMB Classic by remaining in the top-10 of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit – he is currently fourth – as of October 9, he is keen to hold on to his title against the best in the country.
“Winning here last year was really good. It’s going to be a big challenge as the top Malaysians are all here. Although I can potentially qualify for the CIMB Classic through the Asian Tour Order of Merit, I still intend to go low and use this also as preparation for next week’s TAKE Solutions Masters in India,” said Green.
“I’m still going to try to win this week and the good thing is I’m very comfortable on this course as it’s my home course. I feel like I’m a different player now from last year. From a swing perspective and from the way I manage things on the golf course, it’s much better. The experience of being in or around the lead on the Asian Tour this year has also helped a lot.”
Green’s main challengers will include the resurgent Leong, veteran Danny Chia and Nicholas Fung, who broke through for his maiden Asian Tour victory at the Queen’s Cup in Thailand last month. Chia, 44, is chasing for a sixth appearance at the CIMB Classic while straight-shooting Fung is aiming for a third appearance after featuring in 2013 and 2014.
Sanctioned by the Professional Golf Association of Malaysia (PGAM), the CIMB National Championship is now an official event on the PGM Tour and will count towards the PGM Tour’s Order of Merit, which is the leading professional tour in Malaysia. The event will now be played over four rounds instead of three for the previous editions.