Team Wilayah Persekutuan (WP) emerged as the big winner in the Sukan Malaysia (SUKMA) Games golf competition, winning two golds through the ladies' team and individual events, a silver medal in the men’s individual, and a bronze in the men’s team.
Australia-based Jeneath Wong was the lynchpin for the WP ladies team, closing strongly with a two-under-par 70 for a total of three-over-par 219 total to claim the individual gold by six shots from silver medalist Foong Zi Yu of Selangor on 225. The bronze went to Jocelyn Chee of Kedah, who signed off with an excellent 69 for a total of 10-over-par 226, one clear of WP’s Ng Jing Xuen.
“I’m really happy to win two gold medals for Wilayah in my first SUKMA event. This is my first time playing at KGNS and first time playing in Malaysia since 2019,” said Wong, who did well to recover from a double bogey at the fifth hole due to a lost ball in the heavy rough.
“My approach shots into the greens were good this week, but I struggled a lot with putting ... so that was probably why I didn’t score so well on the first two days,” added the 18-year-old.
Play was halted early in the morning due to heavy rain and only resumed at 12.30pm.
“It’s a very challenging course and the greens are really firm and fast. But today, because of the rain, I managed to play a bit better and stop the ball on the greens. I only played one and half holes before the rain delay, and I think the break helped,” noted Wong, who will head to the United States next year to start college with Pepperdine University in California.
The 18-year-old Wong’ spearheaded WP to the top of the team standings, combining with Ng Jing Xuen and Victoria Tan Xin Yi for a total score of 446. They finished 21 shots clear of runners-up Sarwak, represented by Eliza Mae Kho and Zulaikah Nurziana Nasser on 467. The bronze went to the Kedah team of Alya Afza Hazari, Jocelyn Chee Yi Min and Nur Syazani Amalia Mohd Shahzan
The men’s event saw an exciting finish with two playoffs for the individual gold between Malcolm Ting of Sarawak and Muhammad Ikhmal Basry from Wilayah Persekutuan, and the team gold between Selangor and Johor.
Ting, who was a runaway winner in the PGM Qualifying School last week, emerged victorious on the second extra hole when Ikhmal missed a tricky putt for par. Both golfers had finished 54 holes tied on four-over-par 220, Ikhmal closing with a 71 to Ting’s 73.
“This is my first SUKMA gold so I’m really happy. I won two bronze medals in the last SUKMA in Ipoh. It’s a really tough golf course as the greens are very tricky and fast, and the condition is very good,” said Ting, who hails from Miri.
“I was playing really well in the PGM Qualifying last week and I thought I could bring that over here, but I didn’t do that well. I was a bit tense in the playoff but I kept talking to my caddie, my friend Wesley, and that cooled me down a lot,” added the 20-year-old.
Ting will be heading back to Sarawak to play in this week’s Miri Amateur Open, following which he will decide whether to turn professional.
The men’s team gold also went to the wire with Team Selangor, represented by Austin Gan Zi Ming, Muhammad Ajmal Amin Mohd Fajri, Poon Jia Hao and Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi, edging the Johor quartet of Lee Chong Li, Muhammad Muadz Mohd Nadzir, Nor Haqeim Nor Hadi and Syed Nor Ismail Sha Syed Hussein on the first extra hole. Both teams had finished regulation play tied on 679, three shots ahead of bronze medalists WP (Irfan Syahmi Norshaharudin, Muhammad Azren Noor Azam, Muhammad Ikhmal Basry and Umar Khushairi Mohd Kamal).
Men's Individual (Top 5)
220 (+4) Malcolm Ting Siong Hung (SWK) 72-75-73, Muhammad Ikhmal Basry (WP) 75-74-71
Ting won on second playoff hole
222 (+6) Zia Iqmal Abdul Rashid (TRG) 78-70-74
223 (+7) - Nateeshvar A/L Anatha Ganesh (MLK) 75-72-76, Nor Haqeim Nor Hadi(JHR) 76-72-75
Ladies' Individual (Top 5)
219 (+3) Jeneath Wong (WP) 76-73-70
225 (+9) Foong Zi Yu (SEL) 78-75-72
226 (+10) - Jocelyn Chee Yi Min (KDH) 77-80-69
227 (+11) - Ng Jing Xuen (WP) 76-73-78
231 (+15) Zulaikah Nurziana Nasser (SWK) 76-76-79
Men's Team (Top 3)
679 - Selangor (Austin Gan Zi Ming, Muhammad Ajmal Amin Mohd Fajri, Poon Jia Hao, Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi), Johor (Lee Chong Li, Muhammad Muadz Mohd Nadzir, Nor Haqeim Nor Hadi, Syed Nor Ismail Sha Syed Hussein)
Selangor won in playoff
682 - Wilayah Persekutuan (Irfan Syahmi Norshaharudin, Muhammad Azren Noor Azam, Muhammad Ikhmal Basry and Umar Khushairi Mohd Kamal)
Ladies' Team (Top 3)
446 - Wilayah Persekutuan (Jeneath Wong, Ng Jin Xuen, Victoria Tan Xin Yi)
467 - Sarawak (Eliza Mae Kho, Zulaikah Nurziana Nasser)
468 - Kedah (Alya Afza Hazari, Jocelyn Chee Yi Min, Nur Syazani Amalia Mohd Shahzan)
The fourth edition of the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship has attracted a strong field, including 22 of the top-100 players in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR).
To be played on the Waterside Course at the Siam Country Club in Thailand from 3-6 November, Asia-Pacific’s premier women’s amateur championship will feature the region’s finest amateur golfers from 22 countries.
Jiyoo Lim of the Republic of Korea is the highest-ranked player in the field at world number nine with three wins in the past year, but all eyes will be on Thailand’s world number 46 Natthakritta Vongtaveelap who is eager to make amends after last year’s championship in Abu Dhabi.
Renowned for her ability to hit the ball a long way off the tee, Vongtaveelap was leading by three shots going into the final round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club before she was reeled in by Japan’s Mizuki Hashimoto in the closing stages. She eventually finished tied second alongside compatriot Kan Bunnabodee and Australia’s Kelsey Bennett.
Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul won the inaugural WAAP in Singapore in 2018 and Vongtaveelap and Oklahoma State University star Rina Tatematsu, world number 80, are two of eight players from the home nation hoping to follow in her footsteps.
Vongtaveelap, the 19-year-old from Bangkok, said: “Women’s golf in Thailand is very strong right now. We are not short of inspiration – starting from Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn to Patty Tavatanakit and Atthaya – we have had superstars who are amazing role models for all of us.
“The WAAP is the biggest championship we play in Asia-Pacific and is an amazing opportunity for us so early in our careers. We all dream of playing major championships and the girl who wins will be able to play two out of the five next year.”
The other players representing the hosts include World No 14 Taglao Jeeravivitaporn, Pimpisa Rubrong, Navaporn Soontreeyapas, Suvichaya Vinijchaitham, Achiraya Sriwong and Elia Galitsky, a quarter-finalist at last month’s R&A Girls’ Amateur Championship at Carnoustie.
Japan provided the last two WAAP Champions – Yuka Yasuda in 2019 and Hashimoto in 2021 – and will once again send out a strong contingent of six players headlined by number 15 Saki Baba. The 17-year-old introduced herself to the international golfing world with her sensational 11&9 win in the final of the US Women’s Amateur in August this year.
Prior to her triumph in the US, Baba’s biggest achievement had been winning the Kanto Junior Championship in Japan. Further cementing her rising star status, she led Japan to the bronze medal at last month’s World Amateur Team Championship for the Espirito Santo Trophy in France where she finished fourth in the individual standings.
Baba, who was one of the four amateurs to make the cut in the US Women’s Open, tying for 29th place, said, “I am happy with the way I am playing. I’d love to win the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship, not just for the playing opportunities that comes with it, but also for Japan. The last two champions are from our country, and it would be awesome if I can extend that winning streak to three.”
The other four players representing Japan are also inside the top-50 of the WAGR including the defending champion Hashimoto (world number 19), Hinano Muguruma (world number 22), Reika Arakawa (world number 28) and Miku Ueta (world number 47).
Australia’s Bennett will return to the championship and is eager to go one better than her Abu Dhabi finish. The world number 79 will be joined in her quest to become the first Australian WAAP champion by world number 33 Kirsten Rudgeley, the 2021 English Women’s Amateur champion.
The WAAP has been developed by The R&A and the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) to inspire future generations of women golfers and provides the champions with a launchpad early in their careers through exemptions into multiple women’s major championships and other elite amateur championships. The winner will be invited to compete in two major championships in 2023 – the AIG Women’s Open and the Amundi Evian Championship. They will also be invited to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Hana Financial Group Championship.
For more information, visit the championship website
In-form Malcolm Ting from Sarawak shot an even-par 72 to lead the first rond of the Malaysian Games (SUKMA) golf event, played at Kelab Golf Negara Subang.
Ting, who recently won the PGM Qualifying School, holds a one-shot lead over Selangor player Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi (73).
Following in T3 with scores of three-over par 75 are Nateeshvar Anatha Ganesh (Melaka), Muhammad Ikhmal Basry (Wilayah Persekutuan), Austin Gan Zi Ming (Selangor), Casper Loh Wei Kin (Sabah), Muhammad Fakhrul Aiman Noor Ezamdi (Kedah) and Hazeem Yusof (Kelantan).
Meanwhile in the ladies division, Sarawak representative Zulaikah Nurziana Nasser shares the lead with the Wilayah Persekutuan duo of Ng Jing Xuen and Jeneath Wong at four-over par 76.
Jocelyn Chee Yi Min of Kedah trails by one after shooting 77, followed by Foong Zi Yu (Selangor) and Victoria Tan (Wilayah Persekutuan) on 78.
Day 1 Scores
Men (Top 10)
72 (Par) Malcolm Ting Siong Hung (SWK)
73 (+1) Rhaasrikanesh A/L Kanavathi (SEL)
75 (+3) Nateeshvar A/L Anatha Ganesh (MLK), Muhammad Ikhmal Basry (WP), Austin Gan Zi Ming (SEL), Casper Loh Wei Kin (SBH), Muhammad Fakhrul Aiman Noor Ezamdi (KDH), Hazeem Yusof (KEL)
76 (+4) Poon Jia Hao (SEL), Muhammad Azren Bin Noor Azam, Irlman Izzad Mustapa Kamal (PEN), Nor Haqeim Nor Hadi (JHR), Wan Muhammad Danial Hafiz Wan Zain (MLK)
Ladies (Top 10)
76 (+4) Zulaikah Nurziana Nasser (SWK), Jeneath Wong (WP), Ng Jing Xuen (WP)
77 (+5) Jocelyn Chee Yi Min (KDH)
78 (+6) Foong Zi Yu (SEL), Victoria Tan Xin Yi (WP)
79 (+7) Eliza Mae Kho (SWK)
80 (+8) Maisarah Muhammad Hezri (PRK), Nur Maisara Sa`ad (KEL), Charlayne Chong Shin Ling (SBH)
Malaysia's Anson Yeo was one of only three International Team players to win their matches in the final day singles of the Junior Presidents Cup, as Team USA staged a monumentous fightback to retain the trophy.
The 16-year-old Yeo took his record to an impressive two wins and a halve for a tally of 2.5 points, following a solid 4&3 singles win over Johnnie Clark.
Trailing by three points heading into the final day at Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Americans won eight and halved one of the 12 singles matches to emerge victorious by a 13-11.
"It was a great experience and I'm really happy with my performance this week. Both my long game and short game were really good," said Yeo, who hails from Sarawak.
The Junior Presidents Cup participants will now get a chance to watch the main Presidents Cup match, which starts tomorrow at Quail Hollow Golf Club.
"I'm so looking forward to watching the Presidents Cup! I think it's a 50-50 game," said Yeo.
In his earlier matches, Yeo partnered Aldrich Potgieter of South Africa in a 3&2 fourballs win over Clark and Preston Stout, and then teamed up with Colombian Juan Velasquez in the foursomes to tie Eric Lee and Aaron Pounds.
“To see these teams come out and to see how much it meant to both sides is really something special,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. “I think this event is an important part of the Presidents Cup.
"When you think about the future of golf, it is these players. Many of them will be playing in the Presidents Cup in the future and we are happy to help prepare them for it with this event.”
Inaugurated in 2017, the Junior Presidents Cup is a two-day, team match-play competition featuring 24 of the world’s top junior boys aged 19 and younger – 12 from the United States and 12 from around the world, excluding Europe – that takes place just days before the start of the biennial Presidents Cup.
Since its inception in 2009, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) has served as a springboard to great success for its participants. Next month, a new group of players will look to establish their legacy at the AAC from October 27-30 and follow the footsteps of elite players that have competed over the years.
Among the achievements by past competitors: two major championships; 102 victories across the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour; five players on top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) and 11 climbing into the top-50 of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).
A whole ecosystem needs to collaborate to produce a champion, but certain ingredients can serve as a catalyst to the process. From the days of Peter Thomson and Isao Aoki, the Asia-Pacific region has been a hotbed of golf talent, but most players either bloomed late in their careers, or they did not venture out of their geographical territories, usually due to a lack of opportunity.
When the AAC was established in 2009 by the Masters Tournament, The R&A and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), it was a game-changing moment for a majority of amateurs in the region. Playing at the Masters and The Open was just a dream. The AAC helped turn that into a reality. The players now had a chance of playing in a Championship that drew the attention of golf officials, fans, media and college coaches worldwide early in their careers.
Current Malaysian number one Gavin Green was among the players who teed up in the inaugural AAC at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, China. Then only 15, he missed the cut but nonetheless holds the Championship in high esteem.
“I think the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship is an event that everyone should play in during their amateur careers, if they are given the opportunity to do so. The AAC gives you a rare chance to test yourself against the best in the world,” said Green, who became the first and to-date only Malaysian to top the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2017.
Joining the paid ranks in 2015 following a standout U.S. collegiate golf career with the University of New Mexico, Green has four international professional titles to his name including the 2017 Mercuries Masters in Chinese Taipei. The long-hitting 28-year-old recently came close to winning his maiden title on the DP World Tour (European Tour) with a runner-up finish in the Czech Masters.
The end of the 2000s was a defining moment for the region. More players from the Asia-Pacific region started making their mark on world golf. Many metrics exist for gauging success, including international wins. Intangibles stemming from the creation of the AAC, including a surge in motivation and confidence, were also a factor.
It did not take long for the AAC to find its first star. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama earned back-to-back wins at the 2010 and 2011 AAC on his way to becoming the No. 1 amateur in the world, the first Japanese player to reach the pinnacle of amateur golf. Matsuyama’s story so far has been inextricably linked to the AAC. His 2010 win earned him a spot into the 2011 Masters, and he immediately made an impact by earning Low Amateur honours.
Soon after, Matsuyama won a professional title on the Japan Golf Tour as an amateur, and while he has won seven other PGA Tour events since, his crowning achievement was his emotional win at the 2021 Masters, making him the first Asian-born player to don the Green Jacket and bring his AAC journey full circle.
“I don’t think I would have made it to the Masters without the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship,” said Matsuyama, who is looked upon as the “senpai” (leader who motivates) by young Japanese players. “I was upset I did not win it for a third time [in 2012 at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand, host venue of this year’s Championship], but I think that frustration kind of gave me the motivation to play professionally the following year.”
Less than 15 months after Matsuyama’s Masters triumph, another AAC alumni made his country proud by becoming a major winner. Australia’s Cameron Smith put together a clutch performance on the back nine on Sunday to win the historic 150th Open at St Andrews.
In 2011, Smith had finished fourth in his AAC debut, three shots behind champion Matsuyama, his playing partner in the final round. He was tied seventh at the 2012 edition in Amata Spring.
“I remember my first Asia-Pacific Amateur; I played with Hideki in the last group and he ended up winning the tournament,” recalled Smith. “He was probably the first player I played with that I really thought was the best player in the world. He was hitting iron shots, shaping it into different pins. He was really the first guy that I saw doing that. Lots of good memories there.”
The player who denied the two superstars with a victory in 2012 was 14-year-old Tianlang Guan of China. When Guan became the youngest-ever player to make the cut the following April at Augusta National – despite enduring a one-shot penalty – he further legitimized the efforts of the founding partners in creating the AAC.
In 2021 alone, three AAC alumni – Korea’s Kyoung-Hoon Lee (AT&T Byron Nelson), Australia’s Cameron Davis (Rocket Mortgage Classic) and Australia’s Lucas Herbert (Bermuda Championship) – added PGA Tour wins to their resume. Lee and Davis will make their debut at the Presidents Cup later this month, alongside fellow AAC alumni Matsuyama and Si Woo Kim.
“The AAC has helped me grow for a long period, and it was also part of my foundation to be able play solid on the PGA Tour now,” reflected Chinese Taipei’s C.T. Pan, who was runner-up to Guan in 2012 and went on to win on the PGA Tour and earn a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. “The AAC has become the most influential amateur tournament in the Asia-Pacific region and I am very happy to see that today's generation get such an amazing opportunity to play on such a big stage and shine.”
While both Matsuyama and Smith have risen to as high as No. 2 in the OWGR, equally impressive is the fact that five players – Matsuyama, Takumi Kanaya, Keita Nakajima, Curtis Luck and Chun An Yu – have become top-ranked amateur players in the world after their appearances in the AAC. Pan also spent time as the top-ranked amateur prior to his debut at the AAC.
Rookie professional Ervin Chang jointly holds the Malaysian record for best finish in the AAC, thanks to his seventh-place performance in the 2018 Championship at Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore. Having played in four AACs (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019), he describes the Championship as the “ultimate event” for amateurs.
“There are so many things that I like about the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. It always showcases awesome hospitality, challenging course set-ups, committed volunteers, a top-class field, and, most importantly, gives us a chance to play in The Open and the Masters Tournament,” said the 24-year-old, who played on the U.S. collegiate golf circuit with much success for Liberty University from 2016 to 2020.
Chang, who won two gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games before turning professional in June, recently chalked up his best finish on the Asian Development Tour with a runner-up performance at the OB Golf Invitational in Indonesia.
“The Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship helped prepare me for professional golf, as I was able to compete against world-class players in an environment that matches the top professional events,” noted Chang.
When the 2022 AAC is played at Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi, the field will not be short on inspiration.
For more information about the AAC, visit AACgolf.com.