HONOLULU, HAWAII - JANUARY 10: Kazuki Higa of Japan talks with his caddie on the seventh tee during the second round of the Sony Open in Hawaii at the Waialae Country Club on January 10, 2020 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Harry How/Getty Images/AFP == FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==
IT was a nightmarish return for Japan’s Kazuki Higa (pic) to Malaysia after he became one of the 82 golfers to bite the dust early at the Bandar Malaysia Open.
World No. 187 Higa, who’s the seventh-highest ranked player in the 156-man field this week, missed the cut by just a single shot after carding a two-day total of an even-par 144 to finish tied 75th.
Higa enjoyed huge success the last time when he was here for two back-to-back Asian Development Tour (ADT) events in March last year.
He finished runner-up at the Johor Championship before going one better to clinch the UMW Championship.
Higa had since earned a card to play in the prestigious Japan Golf Tour where he made an impact as a rookie last year by notching one victory and four top-10 finishes.
He returned for his Malaysian Open debut with a better reputation but he has certainly failed to live up to his billing.
But Higa isn’t the only big gun who has been sent packing early.
Australian Marcus Fraser, who won the 2016 Maybank Championship, and nine-time Asian Tour winner Gaganjeet Bhullar of India also failed to progress.
Fraser and Bhullar also finished in a tie for 75th.
Highly-rated youngsters Kim Joo-hyung of South Korea and 2019 Asian Tour Rookie of the Year Sadom Kaewkanjana of Thailand were the other early casualties after coming in joint 84th to miss the cut by two shots.
Joo-hyung was touted to contend for his second Asian Tour win after he impressed in his first two starts of the season with fourth placing finishes at the Singapore Open last month and last week’s New Zealand Open.
After opening with a solid 69, the 17-year-old Joo-hyung could only muster a 76 for his second round to finish on one-over 145.
Sadom, the Kuala Lumpur 2017 SEA Games team event gold medallist, shot an improved 71 but it came a bit too late.
It was also the end of the road for Taiwan’s Yeh Wei-tze, the 2000 champion.
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