Another close encounter is expected on the second stop of the Toyota Tour when 69 players tee it up for the prestigious 54-hole Mirai Cup at the challenging Sarawak Golf Club that starts tomorrow.

In the absence of Danny Chia who won the inaugural Toyota Tour event at Saujana GCC last month, Ervin Chang and Paul San loom as the early favourites, after tying for second placing behind Danny who is skipping this event as he’s competing in Japan.

Ervin and Paul registered superb warm-ups since Saujana, after smart performances in the two events of the MENA Tour at the Vijay Singh-designed Valley Course in Desaru. In the first event, Paul finished joint second, behind Joe Heraty of England. In the second event, Ervin was solo second two strokes behing another Englishman William Herald who won with a -10 over 54 holes. Paul was third (-7) while Galven Green was fourth (-6).

But things may not look rosy for Ervin and Paul because Asian Tour rookie Shahriffuddin Ariffin is competing in his first Toyota Tour event here in Kuching and he intends to make his mark. The popular winner of the Selangor Masters ADT event at Seri Selangor last November is currently lying 71st on the Asian Tour Order of Merit after accumulating 104.64 points, having played six events but missed three cuts.

Paul is quietly confident of doing well at Sarawak GC and states that its like a “homecoming for me”. Paul is a Sarawakian and has won several junior and amateur tournaments at this club. “I’m really looking forward to the Mirai Cup as I’m playing rather well now.”

Ervin last played at the Sarawak GC as a winning member of the Kuala Lumpur SUKMA team in 2016. “I’m seeing steady progress in my current form which increases my chances as a strong contender in the Mirai Cup.”

However, there are other professionals here in Kuching who may surprise, including Galven who seems to be picking up steam and a host of talented veterans like R. Nachimuthu, Sukree Othman, Shaifubari Muda, M. Sasidaran, Wilson Choo and Khor Kheng Wai.

Qualifying school winner Umar Khushairi gave a good show of himself in his first professional event when he finished joint sixth at the Tun Ahmad Sarji Trophy event at Saujana. He arrived yesterday morning and was out familiarising himself with the 6,394-metre layout encompassing the Santubung and Matang nines. Suffice to say, Umar intends to prove that he’s a contender like everyone else.

Fans of the Toyota Tour can follow the scoring live, on the myGolf2u app.

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