Malaysia’s Ben Leong is riding high on confidence ahead of the US$3 million Maybank Championship which starts on Thursday.
The 32-year-old safely made the weekend rounds in Singapore and Myanmar in his last two tournaments and aims to build on his good start at the Saujana Golf and Country Club.
Leong, who holds one Asian Tour victory where he famously defeated Thongchai Jaidee at the 2008 Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters on home soil, plans to adopt a relaxed approach this year.
He admits that he has been struggling with his golf swing but hopes to bounce back and make an impact in front of the home crowd at the Maybank Championship where he finished tied-12th last year.
Leong will be among 15 Malaysians in the elite field this week which includes Gavin Green, the reigning Asian Tour number one and Maybank ambassador, Nicholas Fung, Danny Chia, Arie Irawan and Sukree 0thman .
Did you know?
- Ben Leong won the 2008 Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters where he beat Thai great, Thongchai Jaidee in a head-to-head battle. He won by one stroke.
- He finished in XX position at the Maybank Championship last year. It could have been better if not for a missed eagle putt on the 72nd hole. The result virtually sealed his Asian Tour card for 2018.
- Leong was sidelined by a serious back injury in 2012 where he suffered a disc prolapse. The injury curtailed his career and he is looking to rediscover his best form and return to winning ways on the Asian Tour.
- Leong tied the knot with long-time girlfriend Chai Kai Nee in June of last year which gave him the motivation he needed to work harder.
- As an amateur, Leong dominated the Malaysian amateur circuit and spent several years in the United States on a government scholarship where he was attached to the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Florida.
- Leong qualified for the prestigious US Amateur Championship in 2005 and 2006.
Ben Leong (Mas)
I had a week off before the Maybank Championship last year. I got off to a poor start in Singapore and Myanmar and I took a week-off to reflect on my performances (last year). I knew that I just had to make the cut to add money on the Order of Merit but I exceeded my expectations. I just stayed positive, worked hard and gave a 100% on every shot, that’s all I can remember from 2017.
The game is feeling okay. I just want to stay healthy. I withdrew a couple of times last year and I was sick at the Royal Cup in Thailand and the Indonesian Masters. I wasn’t playing too well in Singapore and Myanmar. So, I have just need to take it one shot at a time. It’s a new year and a new start so I just want to keep all the bad things that happened to me in the past.
I did not play much at Saujana during my amateur days so the highlight has to be last year’s Maybank Championship. I could have done better but I missed my eagle putt on the last hole of my last round and settled for birdie. I have no expectations for this year. You feel different every year and I want to better my performance from last year but all in all I just want to go out there and give it my best.
I have no complaints about how I started this new year too. I just realized a lot about myself these last couple of weeks, I wasn’t playing how I wanted to and I just went with it. I wasn’t in my comfort zone and I wasn’t playing well. I struggled with my golf swing and the ball isn’t doing what I want it to do. I don’t ever play with a draw and I have been playing with a draw the past two tournaments. I’m proud of myself for having to adjust my game with how I’m swinging it and still trying to get my way back to hitting it like how I used to for 10 years.
But this year so far, I have made two cuts out of two tournaments, I would say it would be one of my best starts in the recent years. The goal is to build on it and the schedule looks good on the Asian Tour and hopefully I can peak at the right time.