Leong claims dream spot in CIMB Classic

Wed 05 Aug 2015

Leong claims dream spot in CIMB Classic

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Kuala Lumpur, August 5: Ben Leong held his nerve to win the SapuraKencana National Qualifier by two shots on Wednesday, earning a dream spot in the US$7 million CIMB Classic in October.
The 29-year-old Leong, who held an overnight five-shot lead, closed with a two-over-par 74 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club where his three-day total of three-under-par 213 edged out a fighting Kenneth De Silva who signed off with a fine 68.
Nicholas Fung fired a 69 to finish third, a further stroke back, while last year’s champion Danny Chia settled for fourth place after a 73.
“It means a lot. It’s like a dream come true and dreams do come true. I’ve been unlucky the last couple of weeks (finishing second twice on the local circuit) and I’m glad I crossed the line this time. It’s a great win and I’m looking forward to playing in the CIMB Classic,” said Leong.
Kenneth De Silva Kenneth De Silva
Leong, who holds one Asian Tour victory, didn’t have it easy despite his big lead, with Chia first making a charge early on and then De Silva chipping away at the lead with some wonderful golf.
The Sabahan said his hands shook with nerves creeping in coming down the stretch when De Silva pulled to within two of the lead.
“It’s never easy having a big lead. You start losing focus despite leading by five. A lead is never big enough. I’m happy I got it through. I just stayed patient and it worked out,” he said.
“I was focused on Danny as he was the closest to me at the start of the day and then he birdied a couple and the lead was down to three. He then had a rough start on our back nine which gave me back my five-shot lead and I didn’t really know what Kenneth was doing. There were some nerves for me. My hands were shaking, definitely, and my playing partners were actually laughing at me coming down the stretch! The CIMB Classic will be a whole new experience for me. It’s great to have made it into the event,” he added.
Leong’s victory, which earned him RM22,000, was a timely boost as he had endured a torrid last few years following a back injury which laid him out of the Asian Tour for a long spell. He first broke into prominence by winning the 2008 Selangor Masters, beating Thai great Thongchai Jaidee in a head-to-head duel and was relieved that his win today meant that he can now face the world’s leading golfers again at the CIMB Classic, which is sanctioned by the PGA TOUR and Asian Tour.
“I had doubts for sure,” said Leong when asked if he thought his career was over in 2012 due to a disc prolapse.
“I would go to bed wishing that when I woke up the next morning, the pain would be gone. It was frustrating and it tested me to my limit. I stayed determined, stayed to my workout regime and stayed patient which was probably the secret. It worked out alright. For the past few years now, I will spend four hours on the golf course and one hour off it to work on my physical aspect. Before that, it was just seven or eight hours which was stressing my body and mind out. Ever since I’ve come back from my injury, I’ve told myself to stay disciplined and stay with my five-hour plan,” he said.
[pullquote align="left or right"]It’s like a dream come true and dreams do come true. - Ben Leong[/pullquote]Kenneth, 24, was delighted to post his career best score at KLGCC but lamented a bogey and double bogey on 12 and 13 for denting his hopes of pushing Leong to the limit.
“I played really good golf. I told myself to try my best as anything can happen on this course. I got close to the lead but the 12th and 13th holes took away my chances. I missed birdie chances on 17 and 18 which was disappointing as I really wanted one more birdie to put some pressure on Ben,” said De Silva.
“We are delighted to see yet another successful SapuraKencana National Qualifier for the fourth year running and would like to congratulate Ben Leong who rose to the game to clinch the coveted spot at the CIMB Classic. We wish him all the best at the CIMB Classic 2015 and we look forward to him putting in a good performance and placing the country in the world map,” commented Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Shahril Shamsuddin, President and Group Chief Executive Officer, SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad.
“We hope our local fans were enthralled by the exciting and fierce competition amongst Malaysia’s top golfers over the past three days. Having established itself as a key national tournament, we are pleased to record an increase of player participation which is a great testament to the credibility of the Qualifier. We remain committed to driving the development of golf as a sport in Malaysia and hope to spur more home-grown talents,” he added.
The CIMB Classic, to be held from October 29 to November 1, will be the third event of the 2015 - 2016 FedExCup Season on the PGA TOUR. Offering full FedExCup points, the CIMB Classic will feature 78 players - 60 from the PGA TOUR, 10 from the Asian Tour and eight sponsor’s exemptions.
Out of the eight sponsor’s exemptions, CIMB Classic accords two spots for Malaysians. The second spot will be given to the highest ranked Malaysian golfer on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) as at September 30. If the winner of the SapuraKencana National Qualifier is also the leading Malaysian in the OWGR, the second spot will automatically go to the next best-ranked Malaysian on the OWGR.
Leading final round scores
213: Ben Leong 71-68-74
215: Kenneth De Silva 75-72-68
216: Nicholas Fung 73-74-69
217: Danny Chia 71-73-73
219: R. Nachimuthu 71-77-71
220: Khor Kheng Hwai 77-70-73, S. Sivachandhran 74-73-73, Shaifubari Muda 76-71-73
221: C. M. Chong 76-71-74
222: Akhmal Tarmizee 77-71-74, Wilson Choo 72-75-75
223: Gavin Green 73-80-70, Mohd Azman Basharuddin 77-73-73
About SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad
SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad (“Group”) is a leading global integrated oil and gas services and solutions provider operating across the entire upstream value. As a full-fledged upstream player, the Group’s spectrum of capabilities cover the exploration, development, production, rejuvenation, as well as decommissioning and abandonment stages of the value chain.
With a highly skilled and technically capable multinational workforce comprising over 13,000 people, strategic world-class assets, and strong project management capabilities, the Group today has a global presence in over 20 countries.
Learn more at www.sapurakencana.com
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 8 out of 10 ASEAN nations. CIMB Group offers a full suite of financial services and related products; has a market capitalisation of approximately USD 14.1 billion as at 31 March 2015 and over 41,000 employees located in 17 countries.
Read more about CIMB Group at www.cimb.com.
About PGA of Malaysia (PGAM)
The PGA of Malaysia is the umbrella body for all professional golfers in Malaysia. As the governing body, the PGA of Malaysia is the sole sanctioning authority for professional tournaments in the country. It is also tasked with the promotion and development of the game of golf at all levels and provides training, education and professional development for its members.
About PGA TOUR
The PGA TOUR is the world’s premier membership organization for touring professional golfers, co-sanctioning more than 130 tournaments on the PGA TOUR, Champions Tour, Web.com Tour, PGA TOUR Latinoamérica, PGA TOUR Canada and PGA TOUR China.
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, and provide financial opportunities for TOUR players.
Worldwide, PGA TOUR tournaments are broadcast to more than 1 billion households in 225 countries and territories in 32 languages. Virtually all tournaments are organized as non-profit organizations in order to maximize charitable giving. In 2014, tournaments across all Tours generated a record $140.5 million for local and national charitable organizations, after surpassing $2 billion in all-time charitable contributions early in the year.
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 FENIX Golf (Official Apparel Supplier), Fuji Xerox (Official Office Solutions Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Sponsor), Oakley (Official Eyewear and Footwear Sponsor), PRG (Official Accessories Supplier), Srixon (Official Ball), Titleist (Official Web Partner) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.