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MGA confident new title sponsor will help Malaysian Open regain status as premier golf event

MGA confident new title sponsor will help Malaysian Open regain status as premier golf event
"MGA confident new title sponsor will help Malaysian Open regain status as premier golf event"

The Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) deputy general manager Sara Ismail conceded that the just-concluded Malaysian Open was far from perfect but promised the tournament will go from strength to strength after securing a three-year deal with IRS Prima until 2026.

One of the region’s oldest National Opens had struggled to find sponsors from 2016 and 2019, returned in 2020, but was then on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But it is now back on the Asian Tour calendar, offering US$1 million in prize money. Sara said she was confident it will regain its status as a premier stopping point for the players.

“There were some issues, but nothing major. It was the first time we had the event (since Covid-19), and it was a steep learning curve for the new title sponsor,” she said.

“They will be with us for three years. We took note of what happened during the event and will take steps to rectify it. Everyone did their best, and the tournament went on smoothly.

“We are happy to get the tournament up and running after a four-year absence, and we will do what we can to ensure that the Malaysian Open becomes one of the major stopping points on the Asian Tour.”

One plus point was that the Malaysian Open is one of the qualifying events for golf’s oldest Major, the British Open. It offered three spots at the Royal Troon Golf Club in Scotland from July 18-21.

That helped to elevate the status of this year’s Malaysian Open.

Sara added that another plus point was having 30 Malaysians in the field – the second largest in history. Only the 2020 event saw more Malaysians, 40, in the starting line-up.

Among the Malaysians were national players Anson Yeo, Zia Iqmal, G. Nateeshvar, and Haris Hezri. Juniors Ajmal Fajri and Adif Haikal Md Hazan qualified after a two-day trial.

They were part of MGA’s training programme to expose talented amateurs and juniors to high-profile tournaments like the Malaysian Open.

However, only three Malaysians – Khavish Varadan, Ervin Chang, and Jeremiah Kim – survived the cut for the weekend.

“Previously, only 22 Malaysians qualified to play in their home Open, so to have 30 this year is good for development,” said Sara.

“Kavish, a rising star, finished as the best Malaysian. He and the others have a bright future ahead of them.”

Spain’s David Puig (main image), took the top prize of US$180,000. South Korea’s Wang Jeung-hun was second (US$110,000), and Thailand’s Denwit Boriboonsub tied for third with American John Catlin (US$56,500 each).

Puig, Jeung-hun and Denwit made it to The British Open, with Catlin denied a place, as Denwit’s world ranking is higher.

Kavish, who shared the second-round lead, finished tied 13th to earn US$12,777.78.

Chang, who signed a sponsorship deal with a local bank days before the tournament, pocketed US$3,960 after finishing joint 52nd, and Kim won US$3,300 after placing 57th.

Ratchanon Chantananuwat of Thailand was the top amateur in joint 40th.

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