Big Ben aims to set new Malaysian milestone

Ben Leong

Ben Leong

KUALA LUMPUR – Ben Leong is longing to become the first Malaysian to win multiple Asian Tour titles when the new season begins at the Avantha Masters in India next week.

Leong, nicknamed “Big Ben” for his height of 6 feet, 1 inch that towers over his peers, will be joined by countrymen Danny Chia and Iain Steel at the U.S. $2.3 million tournament Feb. 17-20 at DLF Golf and Country Club.

One of the most promising prospects to emerge from Malaysia, Leong broke through in 2008 when he defeated Thongchai Jaidee at the Selangor Masters for his maiden Asian Tour title.

No Malaysian has won more than once on the Asian Tour, but the 25-year-old is hoping to change that.

“I need to get another win, if not two wins,” he said.

Leong struggled in 2009, making only five cuts but he bounced back last season. He secured two top 10s, at the Brunei Open and Yeangder Tournament Players Championship, and finished as the highest-ranked Malaysian on the Asian Tour Order of Merit at No. 36.

“It was a solid year,” Leong said. “I didn’t make too many mistakes; the only thing that was missing was that extra sixth gear. I didn’t have that, as well as those stretches of birdies that win you tournaments.

“But overall, I hung in there and stayed patient. I’m looking forward to the start of the new season. I was hitting it good last year, and there’s always room for improvement in my short game, but overall, I’m very satisfied.”

He credited his return to form to Perth-based coach David Milne.

“I’ve been seeing David quite often since last year, and it has been paying off. I’ve been making a lot of cuts, and that’s the important thing for me,” said Leong, who is the third Malaysian to win on the Asian Tour.

The emerging golf nation enjoyed arguably its top milestone in 2010, when Chia became the first Malaysian to make the cut at the British Open.

Information from the Asian Tour was used in this report.

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