FOR the first time since its inception in 2010, the CIMB Classic could have four Malaysians in the field.
As things stand, Danny Chia has secured his slot in the US$7mil US PGA Tour event that is the third stop on the 2017/18 wrap-around season and carries points that count towards the FedExCup and world rankings.
Chia, the 44-year-old who will be among the oldest protagonists at TPC Kuala Lumpur from Oct 12-15, won the CIMB National Championship, formerly known as the SapuraKencana National Classic, in July. The RM200,000 event that awarded the winner with a cheque for RM30,000 is the CIMB Classic’s qualifier for Malaysian players.
As of Oct 2, the leading Malaysian in the world rankings will also be invited to the CIMB Classic.
At present, Gavin Green is the top ranked local player – but only just.
The 23-year-old is ranked 257th with 0.7124 of a point, while compatriot Nicholas Fung is a mere five places back on 262nd with 0.7047.
The next best-placed Malaysian is Chia in 420th place with 0.4306, while Ben Leong follows in 593rd place with 0.2635.
Notwithstanding all this, Green looks certain to nail down his place in the CIMB Classic via Asian Tour qualification.
The top-10 on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit on Oct 9 will get invitations to the Kuala Lumpur showdown and Green is fourth at the moment. He is US$110,000 clear of 11th place and should retain qualifying place with just a month to go.
Fung, who won for the first time on the Asian Tour when he clinched the Queen’s Cup in Koh Samui, Thailand, in June, could also make his way into the Asian Tour top-10 and the field at TPC KL.
The 27-year-old is 15th on the Order of Merit and just on US$27,000 behind 10th place.
Should the two leading Malaysians find themselves in the top-10 of the Order of Merit come Oct 2, then a fourth local player could qualify through the word rankings.
Leong, by virtue of being fourth in the rankings, would get the call. The 31-year-old from Sabah is way ahead of the next best placed Malaysian – R. Nachimuthu in 1036th with 0.0939.
This is a really nice scenario for Malaysian golf and it would unmistakably do the country proud. More so with the CIMB Classic now firmly established as one of the biggest events in world golf.
It is by far the leading golf tournament in South-East Asia and ranks as one of the best in all sports in this region. It is played at the only PGA Tour’s Tournament Players Club (TPC) outside the United States.
The CIMB Classic is a no-cut tournament that features a field of 78 players – 60 from the PGA Tour, 10 from the Asian Tour and eight sponsor’s exemptions. It offers full FedExCup points and rewards the winner with US$1.26mil.
American and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas is the defending champion. He won it the last couple of years and is set to return next month in search of a third straight title.