Kuala Lumpur, October 6: China’s rising star Li Haotong, famous for finishing third at the Open Championship in July, will be aiming for a memorable debut at next week’s CIMB Classic as Asia attempts to deliver its first winner in the PGA TOUR’s lone tournament in Southeast Asia.
The 22-year-old Li will be amongst a strong line-up of leading golfers from the region who include South Korea’s Si Woo Kim, who won THE PLAYERS Championship in May, compatriot Whee Kim, Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan, India’s Anirban Lahiri and world No. 3 Hideki Matsuyama of Japan.
Along with the top-10 players from the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit who will be finalized on Sunday evening, all eyes will be on Asia’s top golfers to see if they can end the domination by PGA TOUR stars since the CIMB Classic was inaugurated in 2010.
The slender Li is expected to challenge two-time defending champion and world No. 4 Justin Thomas at TPC Kuala Lumpur from October 12-15. Li made the golfing world sit up and take notice of his prodigious talent when he stormed through the field at the Open with a closing round of seven-under-par 63 at Royal Birkdale.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to compete in my first CIMB Classic on the PGA TOUR. I’ve heard it is a great tournament and TPC Kuala Lumpur is a wonderful venue with good facilities for the players,” said Li.
As a 19-year-old, Li won three times on the PGA TOUR China in 2014 to top the money list. His biggest win to date was achieved at his national Open last year before his Open Championship heroics, which is the best finish to date by a mainland Chinese golfer in major history.
Currently ranked 64th in the world, Li is now eyeing the opportunity to break into the top-50 and knows the CIMB Classic will offer plenty of points to the elite 78-man field in Malaysia. “With plenty of FedExCup points and Official World Golf Ranking points at stake, it’ll be important for me to play well to improve my ranking as it is my goal to break into the world’s top-50 by the end of the year. I’ve been quite happy with the way I’ve played all year, most notably with the third-place finish at the British Open which was quite memorable. I certainly hope to end the year strongly,” said Li.
While world No. 3 Matsuyama, who finished second behind Thomas at last year’s CIMB Classic, will be regarded as the leading challenger from Asia, the likes of Si Woo Kim, 22, Whee Kim, 25, C.T. Pan of Chinese Taipei, 25, and the 30-year-old Lahiri, are also top candidates at the CIMB Classic.
Whee, who watched YouTube videos of Tiger Woods to copy his golf swing, produced two top-5 outings at the recent 2016-17 PGA TOUR season while Pan, a former world amateur No. 1 and double gold medal winner at the 2014 Asian Games, enjoyed three top-10s to safely retain his full card for the new 2017-18 season.
Advance tickets for the CIMB Classic are now on sale on www.ticketpro.com.my, Ticket Pro sales channels and selected MST Golf Stores in the Klang Valley. Fans who purchase tickets from now until October 8 will enjoy early bird pricing, with tickets costing RM62 each for the first round (Oct 12, Thursday) and second round (Oct 13, Friday). Prices for the third round (Oct 14, Saturday) and final round (Oct 15, Sunday) are RM99 per day. A season ticket for all four rounds are priced at RM199.
The CIMB Classic is also sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Professional Golf Association of Malaysia (PGAM). The premier Malaysian tournament is also the first of three PGA TOUR events in Asia during the month of October.
About CIMB Group
The title sponsor of the CIMB Classic is CIMB Group. CIMB Group is one of ASEAN’s leading universal banking groups. Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, the Group is now present in 9 out of 10 ASEAN nations. CIMB Group offers a full suite of financial services and related products; has a market capitalisation of approximately USD 14 billion as of 30 June 2017 and about 38,000 employees located in 15 countries. Read more about CIMB Group at www.cimb.com
About PGA TOUR
The PGA TOUR is the leading global platform in professional golf, showcasing the highest
expression of excellence, both on and off the course. The PGA TOUR’s mission is to entertain and inspire its fans, deliver substantial value to its partners, create outlets for volunteers to give back, generate significant charitable and economic impact in the communities in which it plays, grow and protect the game of golf and provide financial opportunities for TOUR players.
The PGA TOUR co-sanctions more than 130 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, Web.com Tour, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR China. Its members represent the world’s best players, hailing from 24 countries (89 members are from outside the United States). Worldwide, PGA TOUR tournaments are broadcast to more than 1.1 billion households in 227 countries and territories in 23 languages. Virtually all tournaments are organized as non-profit organizations in order to maximize charitable giving. In 2016, tournaments across all Tours generated a record of more than $166 million for local and national charitable organizations, bringing the all-time total to $2.46 billion. The PGA TOUR’s web site is PGATOUR.COM, the No. 1 site in golf, and the organization is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
About Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), FENIX XCell (Official Apparel Supplier), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.
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