All eyes will be trained on the fairways of A’Famosa Golf Resort as it plays host to the much-anticipated 109th Malaysian Amateur Open Golf Championship (MAO) from May 19-22 with top amateurs from all over the Asia Pacific region, ready to give all for the coveted title.
The championship, organized by the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA), has received participation from 15 countries – Australia, Bangladesh, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Laos and host Malaysia.
A total of 108 participants will be competing in the men’s category. One of the leading foreign contenders is 2008 champion, Koh Deng Shan from Singapore who will be returning in hopes for another glorious outing.
Filipino Jobim Carlos, 18, who captured the Sabah Amateur Open crown last month, has also confirmed his participation for a chance to continue the reign of The Philippines. In last year edition, The Philippines’ Mhark Fernando won the title ahead of local Mohd Iylia Jamil. Both players have joined the professional ranks.
The Malaysian challenge will be carried by 47 men and 23 ladies who have earned the rights to contest in the nation’s oldest golf championship. These players have truly proven themselves worthy to compete based on their performance in the qualifying rounds – the Malaysian Amateur Close, Sabah Amateur Open and Sarawak Amateur Open. Except for the national players, local players no longer enjoy an automatic entry to the Malaysian Amateur Open field.
No doubt, the nation’s challenge will be headed by the young national team with 18-year old Gavin Kyle Green a top contender. Gavin has shown great form this year, with victories at the KL Amateur Open and the Malaysian Amateur Close, which he won for the third time in a row last month.
Fellow national team member, Kenneth de Silva is also in fine form with his success at the Selangor Amateur Open earlier this year. He also came second behind Gavin at the KL Amateur Open and in partnership with Tan Wei Chean, led the Kuala Lumpur team to the Etiqa Malaysia Cup success.
Meanwhile, in the Ladies division, Isza Fariza Ismail is one to watch out for. Victories already came her way twice this year with her success at the National Trials Finals and the Malaysian Amateur Close. Compatriot, Iman Ahmad Nordin also had her fair share of success, being crowned as the ladies champion at the KL Amateur Open eleven strokes ahead of the runner-up.
The girls will have to work twice as hard this year with the absence of the country’s number one lady amateur, Kelly Tan who is currently based in the States and with Ainil Johani Abu Bakar joining the paid ranks earlier this year.
“It has been a long while since we’ve had a Malaysian name engraved on the Warren Shield. There was Sufian Tan in 1985, then R. Natchimutchu in 1997 and of course, last year’s near miss when Mohd Iylia finished runner up to Fernando,” said Dato’ Tan Yan Fatt, the Tournament Director who is also the MGA’s Competition & Rules Sub-Committee Deputy Chairman.
Meanwhile, the magnificent championship layout of A’Famosa Golf Resort will take center stage during the four-day tournament. The staff of the award-winning resort has been working around the clock to ensure that the layout is ready to challenge the region’s top amateurs.
“It is an honour for us to be given the opportunity to host the Malaysian Amateur Open for the first time,” said Julian Lau Joo Liang, Chief Operating Officer of A’Famosa Golf Resort. “We started priming the 6,397-metre, par-72 combination of Rocky and Palm Courses since late 2010 to ensure it is in tip-top condition, befitting the stature of the tournament.”
The Malaysian Amateur Open has been a fertile ground in producing top players as evident by its list of past champions that include the likes of Australians Robert Allenby and Andrew Dodt, Singapore’s Mardan Mamat, Filipino Juvic Pagunsan and India’s Shiv Kapur.
Initiated in 1894, the championship has survived the colonial era, two World Wars and many ups and downs to become a major amateur golf championship. It’s steady rise in stature was further cemented in 2006 when it was included as an event in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, which rank’s the world’s top amateur golfers.