Kuala Lumpur, February 19: Kemarol Baharin won the Maybank Malaysian Open – National Qualifier at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) today, clinching a spot in the national Open along with joint runners-up Ben Leong, Wilson Choo and Kenneth De Silva.
Kemarol shot a three-under-par 69 for a two-day total of one-under-par 143 to finish four shots clear of Leong, Choo and De Silva by four shots.vOnly the top four golfers earned coveted starts in the US$2.75 million Maybank Malaysian Open which will be staged at KLGCC’s West Course this April 17-20.
“This is the second consecutive year I have qualified for the Maybank Malaysian Open and I have set my sights on making the halfway cut this year,” said Kemarol. “Last year I didn’t play as well as I would have liked and missed the cut, but the experience was simply amazing and I believe it has made me a better player.
“If possible, I want to finish among the top 10 this year. It is a tall order, but not an impossible dream.”
Kemarol, Leong, Choo and De Silva join fellow Malaysians Nicholas Fung, R. Nachimuthu, Arie Fauzi, Rizal Amin, Airil Rizman, Sukree Othman, Iylia Jamil, Khor Kheng Hwai, Shaifubari Muda, Danny Chia, Shaaban Hussin, Iain Steel, S. Murthy, S. Siva Chandhran, Gavin Kyle Green, Ervin Chang and Solomon Emilio Rosidin in the event, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
The Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) will announce another name from the National Team at a later date to complete the list of 22 Malaysians who will bid to become the first local golfer to win the national Open since its inception in 1962. Former world number one Lee Westwood of England, who won the Malaysian Open in 1997, has confirmed his participation in the event.
De Silva, the overnight leader, carded a 74 but it was enough for him to earn a spot in the Maybank Malaysian Open.
“I had a poor start today as I was nervous. It is not easy to qualify for such a prestigious tournament and the nerves got the better of me at the start,” said De Silva.
“I’m delighted to have made it through and will start preparations for the tournament from.”
Leong, an Asian Tour winner who just returned from a serious back injury, said: “It has been a long way back and I’m delighted to have sealed my place in the Maybank Malaysian Open.
“I would like to thank the sponsors for giving us a chance to qualify.”
The talented Choo said: “This is the first time I have qualified for the Maybank Malaysian Open and I will enjoy myself. It was not easy, but I did it.”
Mohamed Adam Wee, Maybank’s Group Chief Marketing officer, congratulated the winners and wished them all the best in making the nation proud.
“The top four kept their cool in the searing heat to deservedly claim their tickets to the Maybank Malaysian Open. A bigger challenge awaits them in April as many of the world’s best golfers from the Asian and European Tours will be eyeing the coveted trophy,” said Adam.
“I hope all the Malaysian golfers who have already qualified, will stay focused and make the country proud in April.”
A year ago, Gavin was the best Malaysian and best amateur when he finished tied 22nd on six-under-par 210.
Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) president Tan Sri Dato’ Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor saluted the efforts of the four qualifiers.
“They have shown over the past two days why they deserve to qualify by playing excellent golf. They must remember they will be carrying the nation’s hopes with them and I wish them the very best,” he said.
Leading Final Scores
143: Kemarol Baharin 74-69
147: Ben Leong 76-71, Wilson Choo 75-72, Kenneth De Silva 73-74
149: Tommy Chin 74-75, Mohd Amli Mohiyadee 73-76
150: Zen Dharmaratne 75-75
152: Marcus Low 80-72, Nicholas Pua 79-73, Dino Abdillah 76-76, Akhmal Tarmizie 76-76, Chong Chee Ming 75-77