Selangor Master 2008

08/11/2008

THE SKY IS THE LIMIT FOR LEONG


Sentosa, August 11: Malaysia's rising star Ben Leong has been tipped to enjoy a bright future and contend in major championships following his breakthrough Asian Tour triumph at the weekend.

After the 22-year-old held off Thai star Thongchai Jaidee to win the Worldwide Selangor Masters, accolades began to pour in for Leong and many believe he will go on to make a name for himself on the international front.

Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han led the chorus of praise after watching Leong, only the third Malaysian to win an Asian Tour tournament, come of age.
"He's one of the great young potentials of Asian golf and he's certainly got a great future ahead of him," said Han, himself a former Asian number one.

"I'm sure he will win bigger events in the years to come. I was really impressed with how he beat Thongchai coming down the stretch. He showed good composure and the right mentality.

"More importantly, he's got the game. I was already impressed with Ben when he won our Qualifying School for two years in a row. It is one of the toughest competitions on Tour as you are playing under pressure for your Tour card.

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"It is fulfilling to see new and exciting talents emerging from the playing opportunities that the Asian Tour is providing across the region."

Malaysia's Iain Steel has seen Leong grow up as a golfer as they both hail from the Malaysian state of Sabah. Steel, who regularly practices with Leong on Tour, played in the final group with his young compatriot and walked away thoroughly impressed.

"Since the last time I played with him, it's been a 180 degree turn," said Steel. "The sky is the limit for him. At the moment, he's driving the ball well, striking the ball really well and is really confident.

"He's always been technically sound and he works hard. His dad gets him out there on the range every morning and going to the United States (David Leadbetter Golf Academy) during his amateur days has done him good."

Steel believes that Leong, who qualified for the HSBC Champions in Shanghai later this year and moved up to 29th place on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit, will play his way to the elite US PGA Tour.

"I hope that he wants to go to the States. He's got his first win under his belt, and with a two-year Asian Tour exemption, I think he should go (to Qualifying School).

"Some guys hit it just as good over there as Ben does but right now, he's playing really good and he knows where his ball is going," said Steel.

Thongchai was a gracious loser despite seeing his bid for a ninth Asian Tour title stalled by a brilliant Leong, who had won two successive Malaysian events prior to his triumph 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," said Thongchai.

Malaysia's Danny Chia, who finished fourth in the Worldwide Selangor Masters, believes that Leong can even contend in the big events, including the four majors.

"He's got age on his side and swings it really well. His technique and foundation is very good compared to most Malaysians as he learned the game the proper way through his exposure in the US. I will be surprised if he doesn't get onto the PGA Tour and he's certainly capable of winning in America when he becomes better.

"It's all up to him now on what he wants to achieve in his career but I believe that he can go very far. He has the potential to achieve anything," said Chia, Malaysia's first winner on the Asian Tour.

The Asian Tour will head to Bandar Seri Begawan next week for the fourth staging of the Brunei Open from August 21-24.

ASIAN TOUR ORDER OF MERIT - TOP-20

Pos. Player Winnings (US$)

1. Mark BROWN (NZL) 651,093

2. Jeev Milkha SINGH (IND) 540,694

3. S.S.P. CHOWRASIA (IND) 439,930

4. Arjun ATWAL (IND) 419,387

5. Scott STRANGE (AUS) 283,340

6. Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND) 256,643

7. LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 255,070

8. Kane WEBBER (AUS) 230,304

9. Taichiro KIYOTA (JPN) 220,261

10. Simon GRIFFITHS (ENG) 198,271

11. NOH Seung-yul (KOR) 188,998

12. Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 184,096

13. Digvijay SINGH (IND) 152,781

14. Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 150,088

15. Scott HEND (AUS) 142,297

16. Scott BARR (AUS) 137,418

17. LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) 137,120

18. Gaurav GHEI (IND) 129,721

19. Shiv KAPUR (IND) 121,294

20. HWANG In-choon (KOR) 118,577

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.