Local star Ben Leong hopes a positive mind-set will guide him to victory at the inaugural US$300,000 Sarawak Championship.
The 32-year-old Malaysian was highly billed as the next star to emerge from the country when he won his first Asian Tour title in 2008 before a serious back injury curtailed his career.
Leong is beginning to show signs of a career revival since earning his Asian Tour card by finishing fourth at the 2017 Qualifying School in Thailand before going on to win on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) in the same year.
He also finished 40th on the Habitat for Humanity Standings last year to retain a full Asian Tour card. He now aims to return to the winner’s circle’s at the new Asian Tour event played in Sarawak from July 4 to 7 (Wednesday to Saturday).
Leong will be joined by fellow Sabahan and Asian Tour winner Nicholas Fung while Indian stalwarts Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar, John Catlin and Paul Peterson of the United States will spearhead the international challenge at the Damai Golf and Country Club.
It has been a solid year so far for Leong on the Asian Tour, with his best result in tied 10th place at the Panasonic Open Golf Championship in Japan in April. Outside the golf course, he also welcomed his first child.
“It has been great being a new father and seeing my son growing up. I tend to miss him more now when I’m travelling so it is nice to have a full field Asian Tour event in Malaysia. It is not far from home and it will be fun. The Damai GCC course is also a nice track so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Leong.
With four missed cuts in nine Asian Tour appearances so far this year, Leong believes he needs to find his A-Game in a busy stretch of events coming up.
“I have good memories winning in Malaysia. Every Malaysian golfer will be excited to play in the event. I would give myself a ‘B’ on the report card for being patient and positive even though I think I don’t have my A Game yet.
“I’ve really been grinding out in my last few tournaments. I want to try to work towards playing my best golf again,” said Leong.
The Sarawak Championship will have a total of 150 players, including a minimum of 25 Malaysian golfers contending for the title.
The Sarawak Championship is the third new Asian Tour event announced this year following the Asia-Pacific Classic in China and CNS Open Golf Championship which is staged in Pakistan. The Asian Tour also sanctioned the ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open for the first time earlier this year.