Professional golfer Ervin Chang is understandably overjoyed at having achieved his target sooner than expected when he finished 10th in the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit, earning himself full playing rights on the 2024 Asian Tour.
Ervin had given himself four years to make the grade since turning pro after the Hanoi Sea Games in the middle of last year. Last week he teed up at the ADT’s season-ending Aramco Saudi Invitational and finished a commendable solo third, after leading the first three days. The top 10 on the ADT OOM gain automatic entry to the Asian Tour.
It has indeed been an incredible short journey for the 25-year-old Seri Kembangan lad who has fulfilled his ambition of getting to play on the Asian Tour “full time”, two and a half years ahead of schedule.
But Ervin would not have turned professional and be where he is today, if not for the gold medal performances in Hanoi last year. He revealed that just a day before the golf competition began, he had texted his father explaining that he felt he should return to the United States to look for a job in the golf industry.
Recounting his situation before the Sea Games, Ervin said he hadn’t played in a tournament in the four months prior to Hanoi and thus wasn’t in the right frame of mind. “Having worked in golf club operations in the US I felt I should return there after the Sea Games as I wasn’t confident of a good performance,” recalled Ervin over lunch at the golfer’s terrace, Saujana Golf & Country Club recently.
All that changed when Ervin created history by becoming the first Malaysian to win an individual gold in golf. He went on to add the team gold as well.
Things began to progress quickly for Ervin. His style, performances and mannerisms won over the Asian Tour who then presented him with the Kyi Hla Han Future Champions award in January this year. He was its first recipient. “It was quite an honour and I never expected it,” said Ervin. The award enabled him to play six events on the Asian Tour.
Then in early May in the Toyota Tour’s stop in Kuching, Ervin secured his first professional win when he grabbed the Mirai Cup by a sensational six strokes at the Sarawak Golf Club. In July at the Mines Resort Golf Club, he putted his way into contention in the Supra Cup but lost in a two-way playoff. It was crystal clear that Ervin had his sights for more success.
Ervin (fourth from left) with other pros who gained their Asian Tour cards following the Aramco Saudi Invitational.
Ervin’s immediate goal is to perform well enough on the 2024 Asian Tour to keep his card for the following year. Winning a tournament would perhaps be the ideal target, but Ervin is taking a realistic approach when he walks onto Asia’s biggest golf stage.
“I realise there is a big difference in standards between the ADT, the Asian Tour and the International Series. However, I enjoy competing at higher levels and that is what I’m looking forward to on Tour. I tend to get comfortable in uncomfortable situations.
“The Toyota Tour has been great not just for me but for Malaysian pros and amateurs. I’ll never forget my first professional win at the Mirai Cup. The Toyota Tour is set up very professionally and it offers us an exciting platform to compete against one another and to advance to the next levels.”
But what motivates Ervin to compete? “The camaraderie I feel with other players when I'm on a golf course makes me excited to come to work every day,” said Ervin. “I'm really passionate about helping players improve their game, especially when others have
helped me at the beginning, like Danny Chia and the late Arie Irawan.
“In fact I still spend time on the course with Danny who I look to as an older brother. He may be over 50 but he’s still playing good golf. Impressive stuff!”
Ervin’s entry into the golf world began when his father brought him to the driving range. He was six at that time. “Dad was just starting to play, but I was hooked.”
The beginning of a career is always tough and for Ervin it was no different. “But I’ve been very fortunate and blessed that there were quite a number of people – players and coaches who helped me as I progressed from my junior days.”
Ervin rattled off names like Lim Siew Ai, Chong Chee Ming, Steven Guiliano, Shane Gillespie, Travis Fulton, Tony Maloney, Stewart Ginn and Dean Hartman as the coaches who helped develop his swing. “Stewart actually helped me with my mental conditioning during the four rounds in the Aramco Saudi event last week. He wasn’t there but we exchanged texts every day. He helped me stay calm, stay relaxed, especially after the third round when I was leading.”
Ervin recalled the moment when he made the final putt at the Rolling Hills course. He had about three feet from the cup and looking at a left-to-right break. Ervin had the night before calculated that a top three finish would earn him an Asian Tour card. Getting that little white ball into the cup would guarantee him third placing. That’s when he felt his hands shaking a little.
“Just then there was some noise due to someone testing the microphone in preparation for the awards presentation. It forced me to step back and regroup. I tried to make a good putt and saw the ball lip around on the low side and it dropped in. It was sheer relief for me and I yelled out quite a bit!’”
Ervin is grateful to his parents for their support. They helped send him to college in Virginia, USA where he enrolled at the Liberty University. He managed to get into the college team in his second year and that earned him a full scholarship in the remaining two years.
“Education is very important for all athletes and I would urge junior golfers to further their studies, whether or not they intend to turn professional. I have to thank Ung Su Ling for helping me get to Liberty University where I gained my Master’s degree in Player Development/Athletics Management.”
A typical day in the life of Ervin when he’s not in a tournament begins at 5.45 when he wakes up. He leaves home at 6.15 in order to beat the jams and heads to either Royal Selangor Golf Club or Saujana GCC. He spends two to four hours putting before taking a break. Then its chipping and pitching followed by hitting balls at the range. The day ends at 4.30 for him and some days it might include a round of golf.
When playing a round he usually teams up with Danny, Khor Kheng Hwai and Justin Chin.
Ervin’s favourite golfer is Jason Day and the player he enjoys watching is Cameron Smith. His favourite courses in Malaysia are RSGC and Saujana of which he is also a club ambassador. Outside Malaysia his favourite course is TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Verda, Florida – home of The Players Championship.
While Ervin is pretty happy with the recent turn of events, he’s not lowering his guard.
“This new chapter, playing on the Asian Tour is not going to be easy. Golf is going to be even more challenging for me. Sometimes it’s not about making the best putt or hitting the longest drive. It’s really about making every shot count.”
LIV Golf announced that two-time major winner Jon Rahm, the reigning Masters champion, has joined LIV Golf. Rahm will compete in the LIV Golf League beginning next season, which kicks off February 2-4, 2024, at LIV Golf Mayakoba in Mexico.
“I am proud to join LIV Golf and be part of something new that is bringing growth to the sport,” said Rahm. “I have no doubt that this is a great opportunity for me and my family and am very excited for the future.”
“When I first met Jon at the age of 17, I knew then that the golfing world was about to witness the birth of a new star. Jon has consistently validated that he is one of the top players in the world. He’s a generational talent who has proven his merit as a multiple major champion and tremendous ambassador for global golf by placing the game ahead of himself,” said LIV Golf Commissioner and CEO Greg Norman. “There are very few athletes with his pedigree of talent, leadership, poise, and commitment to bringing progress to the sport on a worldwide stage. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Jon to the LIV Golf family as the league continues preparations for a huge 2024 and beyond.”
Added Lawrence Burian, LIV Golf Chief Operating Officer: "LIV Golf is here to stay. The addition of Jon reemphasizes that our League is not slowing down. We are continuing to invest and build aggressively for LIV's long-term and exciting future."
Rahm’s impact as one of the most dominant players of the past decade spans the globe. The 29-year-old has amassed 20 wins, including the 2023 Masters, 2021 U.S. Open, and the DP World Tour Championship three times (2017, 2019, 2022). The Spaniard has played in three consecutive Ryder Cups, helping lead Team Europe to victory in 2018 and 2023. This year, Rahm won four times while also finishing tied for second in the 151st Open Championship and tied for fifth in the DP World Tour Championship.
Throughout his career, Rahm has earned 93 top-10 finishes with accolades including 2021 PGA of America Player of the Year, two-time European Tour (DP World Tour) Golfer of the Year, and 2019 European Tour Race to Dubai Winner. Before turning pro, Rahm was the world’s No. 1-ranked amateur for a record 60 weeks, and twice won the Ben Hogan Award at Arizona State University as the nation’s top collegiate golfer.
Details on Rahm’s team will be announced at a later date. He joins LIV Golf’s star-studded, international field returning in 2024 with many of the sport’s biggest names including 2023 Individual Champion Talor Gooch (Smash GC), 2020 U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau (2023 Team Champions Crushers GC), 2022 Open Champion Cameron Smith (Ripper GC), 2023 PGA Championship winner and five-time major champion Brooks Koepka (Smash GC), six-time major winner and World Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson (HyFlyers GC), two-time major winners Dustin Johnson (4Aces GC), Bubba Watson (RangeGoats GC) and Martin Kaymer (Cleeks GC), and many more.
LIV Golf competition tees off in February and features 12 regular season tournaments, an Individual Championship and Team Championship in new and returning markets across the world. Fans are encouraged to sign up for free to LIV X to receive exclusive updates and access, including information on hospitality tickets and grounds passes for LIV Golf events which include live music and fan activities for all ages.
Throughout the season, LIV Golf League competition will air in the U.S. on Saturdays and Sundays on The CW, The CW App and LIV Golf Plus, with Friday rounds carried on The CW App and LIV Golf Plus. In addition, LIV Golf tournaments are carried globally on LIV Golf Plus, the LIV Golf YouTube channel and on more than a dozen international broadcast partners, delivering league broadcasts in over 180 territories to more than 380 million homes worldwide. For more information on how to watch the LIV Golf League, visit LIVGolf.com/where-to-watch.
LIV Golf is owned and operated by LIV Golf Investments whose vision and mission are centered around making holistic and sustainable investments to enhance the global golf ecosystem and unlock the sport’s untapped worldwide potential.
Malaysia's Shahriffuddin Ariffin has climbed up 31 spots on the Asian Tour Order of Merit list to 60th place, following his tied runner-up finish in the USD 400,000 Taiwan Glass Taifong Open at Taifong Golf Club.
Shahriffuddin carded rounds of 65, 73, 66, and 69 to grab a share of second place with Thailand's Atiruj Winaicharoenchai on 15-under-par 273. The Malaysian's final day scorecard featured four birdies and one bogey.
The duo finished four shots behind victor Suteepat Prateeptienchai of Thailand.
Having taken giant steps to securing his Tour card for 2024, the 24-year-old was elated with his game this week and will be looking forward to the season-ending Saudi Open presented by Public Investment Fund.
“It’s a big relief. The top five was my target so I am really happy to have done better than that. When he [Suteepat] made those five birdies in a row I knew we were playing for second. Just need to play well in Saudi," said Shahriffuddin.
The top-65 earn their playing rights for the new season, with just one more event remaining, the Saudi Open presented by Public Investment Fund at Riyadh Golf Club from December 14-17.
Top 10 & Ties
269 (-19) - Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA) 68-67-66-68.
273 (-15) - Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 69-71-67-66, Shahriffuddin Ariffin (MAS) 65-73-66-69.
275 (-13) - Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 69-67-71-68, Seungtaek Lee (KOR) 69-68-70-68.
276 (-12) - Hanmil Jung (KOR) 69-71-68-68, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 66-71-68-71.
277 (-11) - Lee Chieh-po (TWN) 74-65-70-68, K.P. Lin (TWN) 68-72-67-70, Hung Chien-yao (TWN) 72-66-68-71.
The PGA TOUR announced nominees for the Jack Nicklaus Award (Player of the Year) and the Arnold Palmer Award (Rookie of the Year) for the 2022-23 season as finalized by the PGA TOUR Player Directors and members of the Player Advisory Council (PAC).
The five nominees for the Jack Nicklaus Award as the 2023 PGA TOUR Player of the Year are (alphabetically) Wyndham Clark, Viktor Hovland, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler. The four nominees for the Arnold Palmer Award as the 2023 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year are Ludvig Åberg, Eric Cole, Nico Echavarria and Vincent Norrman.
The Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards are determined by a member vote, with PGA TOUR members who played in at least 15 official FedExCup events during the 2022-23 season eligible to vote. The voting will close on Friday, December 15, at 5 p.m. ET. The winners will be announced in January at The Sentry, the first event of the 2024 FedExCup Season as the PGA TOUR returns to a calendar-year schedule.
Player of the Year nominees (alphabetical)
Wyndham Clark, 29
• Entered 28 events with wins (2) at the Wells Fargo Championship (first career PGA TOUR title) and U.S. Open (first career major championship title)
• Finished No. 3 in the FedExCup
• Finished 13th in Scoring Average (69.642)
• Recorded a total of eight top-10s and made 25 cuts
Viktor Hovland, 26
• Entered 23 events with wins (3) at the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, BMW Championship and TOUR Championship
• 2023 FedExCup Champion
• Finished fourth in Scoring Average (69.123)
• Recorded a total of nine top-10s and did not miss a cut
Rory McIlroy, 34
Holywood, Northern Ireland
• Entered 18 events with wins (2) at THE CJ CUP in South Carolina and Genesis Scottish Open
• Finished No. 4 in the FedExCup
• Finished second in Scoring Average (68.777)
• Recorded a total of 13 top-10s and made 16 cuts
Jon Rahm, 29
• Entered 20 events and led the TOUR with four wins (The Sentry, The American Express, The Genesis Invitational and Masters Tournament)
• Finished No. 18 in the FedExCup
• Finished third in Scoring Average (69.037)
• Recorded a total of 10 top-10s and made 18 cuts
Scottie Scheffler, 27
• Entered 23 events with wins (2) at the WM Phoenix Open and THE PLAYERS Championship
• Finished sixth in the FedExCup
• Winner of the Byron Nelson Award for low Scoring Average (68.629)
• Recorded a TOUR-best 17 top-10s and did not miss a cut
Rookie of the Year nominees (alphabetical)
Ludvig Åberg, 24
• Joined the PGA TOUR in June as the No. 1 player in the PGA TOUR University Ranking, making his professional debut at the RBC Canadian Open
• Entered 13 events (11 as a professional) and won The RSM Classic, the final event of the season
• Finished No. 53 in the FedExCup Fall standings
• Finished 12th in Scoring Average (69.604)
• Recorded a total of four top-10s and made 10 cuts in 11 events as a professional
Eric Cole, 35
• Entered 37 events with runner-up finishes at The Classic in The Palm Beaches and the 2023 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP
• Finished No. 43 in the FedExCup
• Finished 15th in Scoring Average (69.758)
• Recorded a total of seven top-10s and made 27 cuts
Nico Echavarria, 29
• Entered 31 events and earned his first PGA TOUR title at the Puerto Rico Open
• Finished No. 120 in the FedExCup Fall standings
• Finished 153rd in Scoring Average (71.588)
• Recorded a total of three top-25s and made eight cuts
Vincent Norrman, 25
• Entered 29 events and earned his first PGA TOUR title at the Barbasol Championship
• Finished No. 82 in the FedExCup Fall standings
• Finished 81st in Scoring Average (70.755)
• Recorded a total of three top-10s and made 17 cuts
Malaysia's Ervin Chang posted a final round of one-under-par 71 to earn outright third position at the Aramco Invitational Tournament.
He carded rounds of 68,68,68 and 71 at Rolling Hills Golf Club for a 13-under-par 275 total, just three shots shy of a playoff won by Order of Merit winner Denwit Boriboonsub.
The Malaysian's final haul of USD30,544.82 for the year after the season-ending Aramco Invitational Tournament saw him surge up the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit to secure both the 10th place and playing rights on the Asian Tour next year.
From becoming the first recipient of the inaugural Kyi Hla Future Champions Award to achieving his maiden professional win on the domestic Toyota Tour, the 25-year-old's elevation to the top tier of Asian Golf for next year is a testament to his determination and desire to improve.
The next best-placed Malaysian in the field this week was Galven Green who finished in T39 on two-under-par 286, followed by Daeng Abdul Rahman one shot adrift in T40 on one-under-par 287. Rounding up the Malaysians was Khor Kheng Hwai in T42 on even-par 288.
Top 10 & Ties
272 (-16) Denwit Boriboonsub 68-70-66-68, William Harrold 73-69-64-66
275 (-13) Ervin Chang 68-68-68-71
276 (-12) Minhyeok Yang 67-74-68-68, Aaron Wilkin 69-68-68-71
277 (-11) Chi Quan Truong 72-68-67-70
278 (-10) Sarun Sirithon 74-71-68-65, Charng-Tai Sudsom 73-67-71-67, Shinichi Mizuno 70-70-70-68 Pattaraphol Khanthacha 69-69-71-69