Big Ben Stands Tall at Worldwide Selangor Masters

Sat 09 Aug 2008

Big Ben Stands Tall at Worldwide Selangor Masters

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, August 9: Malaysia's Ben Leong bravely held off Thai star Thongchai Jaidee to win the Worldwide Selangor Masters by one shot for his maiden Asian Tour title on Saturday.

The 22-year-old rising star held his nerve to shoot a final round of two-under-par 69 at Seri Selangor Golf Club and achieved a magical hat-trick of victories as he had triumphed twice in Malaysia over the past fortnight.

Two-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai, who trailed Leong by one shot upon the completion of the third round this morning, fought doggedly with three birdies in the middle of the back nine but failed to find the crucial birdie at the last hole needed to tie the young Malaysian as he settled for a 69.

Iain Steel of Malaysia finished a distant third and nine shots back after a 73 while Danny Chia, also from Malaysia, Mars Pucay of the Philippines, India's Gaurav Ghei and Australian Neven Basic shared fourth place.

"It is a relief. Finally, I don't have to go back to Q-school now," said Leong, who won the Asian Tour's Qualifying School in the past two seasons to earn his playing rights.

"That's all I'm thinking but it certainly means a lot to win. It means that I can really compete now. This win means a lot more than the earlier two and is a dream come true. Now I can arrange my schedule and I know what I want and don't want now," added the champion, who earned US$48,147 with his 15-under-par 269 winning aggregate.

Leong suffered an attack of nerves when he saw a four-shot lead reduced by half by a battling Thongchai, who overcome successive bogeys after the turn with a run of three birdies from the 12th hole.

The Malaysian needed to make huge par saves on the 16th and 17th holes from five feet and eight feet respectively to retain his two shot lead but made his walk up the par four 18th hole difficult with some wayward shots and eventually left himself with a five-footer for bogey.

Thongchai had a chance to force a play-off but his 20-foot birdie attempt from the edge of the green rolled well wide and after Leong rolled in his winning putt, he clenched his fist in celebration.

"I was really nervous going into the last hole. Two strokes were not much and I got ahead of myself on the drive and swung it too quick and hit it well right. Fortunately enough I left myself with a five footer (for bogey) and my putting has been solid the whole week. I was pretty confident with the putt but I was just trying to keep the devil out of the head. It worked out alright," said Leong, whose card included five birdies and three bogeys.
He wasn't surprised to see Thongchai, who was chasing his ninth Asian Tour victory, come back strongly. "That's what great players do. They just hang in there and they come up with birdies. I was telling myself to stay in the present and that I still had the lead and don't get ahead of myself," said Leong.

Thongchai tipped his cap to the Asian Tour's newest winner, saying he admired the way the young Malaysian held his composure during the heat of battle in the Worldwide Selangor Masters.

"Ben is a good player and he played well in front of his home fans. He was steady and composed and there is a bright future for him. He has shown that he can compete among the top players on the Asian Tour. Congratulations to Ben," said Thongchai.

"I played well and tried to catch up at one point. I had a good run with three birdies in a row but Ben played really well to hold on. I missed a good birdie chance on the 17th hole but overall I am pleased with my performance this week," added Thongchai.
Steel, who played in the last group with Leong and Thongchai, got to within three shots of the lead when he eagled the fifth hole but failed to sustain his challenge as he settled for a 73.
"I knew these guys were playing really good and Ben putted well all 18 holes. They weren't going to come back my way and I kept pressing and pressing but went the other way," said Steel.
Leading final round scores

269 - Ben Leong (MAS) 71-65-64-69

270 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 70-63-68-69

278 - Iain Steel (MAS) 68-68-69-73

279 - Danny Chia (MAS) 68-74-71-66, Gaurav Ghei (IND) 69-74-69-67, Mars Pucay (PHI) 69-72-69-69, Neven Basic (AUS) 68-67-72-72

280 - Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 68-68-72-72, Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 69-72-65-74

281 - Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 69-70-70-72

282 - Dinesh Chand (FIJ) 67-74-73-68, Chan Yih-shin (TPE) 75-66-71-70, Adam Blyth (AUS) 66-70-74-72, Atthaphon Prathummanee (THA) 71-71-69-71, Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) 64-72-70-76

283 - Antonio Lascuna (PHI) 70-73-72-68, Lam Chih Bing (SIN) 75-66-72-70, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 75-68-69-71, Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 70-68-72-73

284 - Andrew Dodt (AUS) 77-68-69-70, Scott Barr (AUS) 68-71-73-72, Kim Nam-kang (KOR) 71-71-70-72, Craig Smith (WAL) 70-68-71-75

About the Worldwide Selangor Masters 2008

The Worldwide Selangor Masters 2008 is making its debut on the Asian Tour this season. Organised by the Selangor State government, the event offers a total prize fund of RM1 million (approximately US$310,000). The tournament is backed by title sponsor Worldwide Holdings Berhad while CIMB Group is a major sponsor. Other sponsors include KDEB, PNSB, RHB, AM BANK Group, PKNS, PKPS, MBPJ, MBSA, MPK, MPSJ, MPAJ, MPKJ, MPS and MPSP. Seri Selangor Golf Club is the host venue while One World Hotel is the official hotel, Srixon is the official ball, Crest Link is the official apparel and 100PLUS is the official supplier.
About the 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 Carlsberg (Official Beer), ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Sofitel (Official Hotel) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore's premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour

For further information, please contact Asian Tour's Chuah Choo Chiang or Shenton Gomez at the Worldwide Selangor Masters media centre at +603 7880 9204. Live Scoring is available on