Sabahan Ben Leong made a strong statement in his quest to break a four-year winless streak on Malaysian soil when he compiled seven birdies against two bogeys to card a five-under 66 in the first round of the Supra Cup at the Mines Resort Golf Club here today.
Leong, whose last victory was the Impian Closed Championship in 2019, teed off from the back nine with veteran Danny Chia and Gavin Green and recorded two birdies against a bogey on the tough par 4 17th hole. That seemed to increase his determination to do better and after crossing over to the front nine, he went on a birdie spree from the 1st to the 3rd.
However, a bogey on the fourth seemed to stop his advancement, but he added birdies on the 6th and 8th to put a smile on his face as he walked off the 9th green.
“Yes, the conditions were tough, but all of us are used to playing in this sort of hot, humid conditions,” he said.
“But I enjoyed the round, especially with Gavin and Chia whom I’ve known for quite some time. The last time I played alongside Gavin was at the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne in 2018 so yes, it was nice seeing him here,” added Leong.
Sharing second two strokes behind place were Kenneth De Silva and amateur Marcus Lim who finished with identical three-under 68s.
Lim is fresh from a second placing at the Corolla Cup in Royal Perak GC that ended two weeks ago. Last month he won the TSM Golf Championship at the Kuala Lumpur GCC.
The Supra Cup is the sixth leg of the Toyota Tour presented by UMW Toyota Motor, delivered by MST Golf Group Berhad and managed by the Professional Golf Malaysia. The men’s purse is RM180,000 with RM31,500 going to the winner. In the ladies’ category, the winner receives RM10,000 from a pool of RM30,000.
Green is fresh off a tied 68th finish in the Scottish Open on the DP World Tour, formerly known as the European Tour. He declared he was very pleased to be able to compete in his first Toyota Tour event despite having to fight against a fever and a headache that persisted throughout his round.
The DP World Tour resumes on Aug 17 in Ireland, which allows Gavin to compete in the next Toyota Tour event, the Corolla Cross Cup from Aug 8-10 at the Palm Garden GC.
He is just three strokes behind Leong and finished in joint fourth today with Paul San at two-under 69, one stroke ahead of a bunch of players that included Amir Nazrin, R. Nachimuthu, Chia, Kemarol Baharin and Nicholas Fung, winner of the Hilux Cup in Sabah.
Green’s immediate target is to finish among the Top 50 on the DP World Tour so that he will be able to compete in the season-ending Race to Dubai. He also harbours hopes of representing Malaysia again in the Olympics.
Ranked 70th on the DP World Tour, Green’s last win in Malaysia was the Tun Ahmad Sarji Trophy at Saujana in February 2022 when he defeated Chia by one stroke.
The ladies’ championship is led by Aretha Pan who shot a three-under 68, followed by Geraldine Wong on 70. Amateur Winnie Ng, coming off a sensational play-off victory over Pan at the Corolla Cup, is third after a one-over 72.
The Par 71 Mines layout designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., was the scene of the 1999 World Cup that was won by Americans Tiger Woods and Mark O’Meara.
Leading scores (Men)
66 Ben Leong
68 Kenneth De Silva, Marcus Lim (A)
69 Gavin Green, Paul San
70 Danny Chia, Amir Nazrin, Kemarol Baharin, Nicholas Fung, R. Nachimuthu
71 Ervin Chang, Galven Green, Norazle Idris, Wan Hasnul Daniel (A)
68 Aretha Pan
70 Geraldine Wong
72 Winnie Ng
74 Amalia Shahzan (A)
75 Allycia Gan (A)