Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, November 20: Read what players have to say ahead of the inaugural Sabah Masters which gets underway at the Sutera Habour Golf and Country Club on Thursday.
Joohyung Kim (Kor)
Feels great to be here in Sabah as an Asian Tour week. Getting my first win on the Asian Tour in India last week was a dream come true. A lot of players came up and congratulate me when I got here. It feels great definitely but this is a brand new week. I think I need to take my mind off the win for awhile as it’s back to business this week.
I have been playing well the whole year. My iron game has been great and that’s been the strong part of my game. I was able to drop a few putts too and I think that was what I did well this season. I was pretty fortunate too. I worked very hard for it to click this year.
I don’t like to take all the time to warm up. I normally take like 50 mins, just hit a couple of balls, chip and putt and straight to the first time. I try to keep it simple and not take everything so serious.
I just want to make the cut first this week, stick to the game plan and see how it goes. The playing standard on the Asian Tour is definitely different from the Asian Development Tour which is where I came from.
But I have gained a lot of experiences from playing on the ADT and that has helped me a lot. I have been in contention for a couple of times this year too so I know what it feels like to be in there. I am still trying to learn. I am just really fortunate.
I actually played with Jazz (Janewattananond) in Indonesia earlier. That was the highlight for me really. He’s won so many events this year and he played the PGA Championship and is ranked 59th in the world right now. I asked him a lot of questions.
This is only my fourth event on Tour this year. I haven’t played much but playing with Jazz in Indonesia was memorable for me. It’s only my second year as a professional. I am trying not to get ahead of myself. There’s still a long way to go. My ultimate aim in golf is definitely to play on the PGA Tour. That’s my aim but I’m trying to take it step by step and stay in the moment.
I haven’t got to celebrate yet. I came straight here from India. I just sat in the plane and thought through what happened on the final day and then it’s straight back to business. My dad just told me ‘good job’.
He’s been caddying for me since I turned professional and the week I won my first Asian Tour event, he was sick and he wasn’t there. I called him after I won and he came straight to the club from the hotel. My dad is my coach and my caddy. He’s with me all the time.
The course looks pretty demanding off the tee this week but it’s not long. We don’t have to hit driver all the time. The greens are firming up too. Sometimes you might hit good shots and get unlucky breaks and go off the greens so I think short game will be key as well.
Siddikur Rahman (Ban)
I had a great week in India. My hitting was good and my short game was much better too. It’s nice to come into this week with a top-10 finish. I’m really very comfortable with my game now. This is my first time in Sabah so I’m looking forward to the week.
I am happy with my season so far. I had a good start to the season. I played really well in Malaysia. But my performance hasn’t been that good after that. I am not disappointed though. There are still a lot of tournaments to play.
I know I just need to continue doing the things I need to do and I will be fine. Last week’s result really gave me a boost in confidence. I played badly in Thailand and I worked on my swing after that. I am glad the results showed in India. Lots of positives to take away from there.
I am focusing on my swing again this week. If my swing is ok, I think I can easily score out here. I have played a lot of golf in Malaysia and I really like it here. I am used to the hot weather here.
Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha)
I played well at the Thailand Open. It was nice to get another top-10 finish this year. I think I should be able to keep my card for next season. But I want to do better. Lesser pressure for sure but I think it can be better.
This course, you don’t have to hit a lot of driver. You hit a lot of two-iron and three-iron here. You need to hit it good off the tees. That’s the key this week. My aim is to shoot under-par every round.
A lot of young players have won on Tour this season and that really inspires me to play well. I feel really happy for Joohyung Kim who won in India last week. I got to know him since last year.
We practiced at the same place so I am pretty close with him. We have dinner together back home in Bangkok when we are free too so I felt really happy to see him win on Tour.
Rory Hie (Ina)
Obviously I’m on a high now, having claimed a top-10 finish in India last week. It’s good to play well again after winning in India earlier. Went back to India last week, rode on the good vibes and played well again. Hopefully I can continue the good form this week.
It’s a great course here in Sabah. I love the weather here. The sceneries are so beautiful too. Unfortunately, I hurt my thumb and wrist two weeks ago in Thailand. Still recovering from it but hopefully it will get better and I can play well this week.
My mindset changed before the win in India. That helped me a lot and I’m just trying to keep things the same for the rest of the season. It’s definitely better, I’m happier playing golf now. I’m just looking forward to the rest of the season with all the opportunities that I am getting.
Hopefully I can win one more time before the season ends so I can get the three-year membership. It would be nice. It’s good playing with the local juniors in the pro-am tournament today. I get to teach them a bit here and there. It’s fun. Hopefully they can take something out from this for their future careers.
Ben Leong (Mas)
It was great to finish top-10 in Thailand. Lots of positives and confidence. It’s going to be a home game for me this week. The course is looking great. They are doing a good job with the fairways and greens so looking forward to the week.
It’s nice to be playing on home soil. I can sleep on my own bed. Definitely higher expectations for me but I’ll just take it as if I am playing elsewhere. I’ll just tell myself there’s no expectations although there will be at the end of the day.
I’ll just go out there and have fun and just focus on the process. It’s good to find some good form recently. I haven’t been working on anything specific but I guess it’s just about peaking at the right time. I have been playing consistently for the past couple of weeks.
It’s a tough golf course. The layout is pretty straightforward but the greens are tough and tricky. Keeping the ball on the greens would be key this week. The fairways are pretty tight so it will be difficult around the greens.
I have been playing consistently. I struggled at the start of the year but it’s all in the past now. I am looking forward to this week and the rest of the year. Definitely hoping to win again. That’s always my goal but I try not to get ahead of myself. The aim is to put the ball on the fairway and green and try to make the putt, control what I can control.
Yikeun Chang (Kor)
I flew here from the States and I practiced a lot over there. Game is trending in the right direction again. It’s been great since I won in Chinese Taipei two months ago. I played in some big tournaments, like the WGC-HSBC Champions and the CJ Cup.
I was kind of struggling in those big events but it’s all good experiences. Game’s feeling good again and it’s trending in the right direction. I got through to the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School Final Stage in December so I hope to stay consistent and keep my game in good form heading into that.
It’s a pretty nice course here. It’s fun. If the pins are going to be in front, it’s going to be a pretty hard test. Nothing has change for me since I won in Chinese Taipei but I do hope to win again before the season ends.
Itthipat Buranatanyarat (Tha)
This is my first time playing at the Sutera Harbour Golf Club this week. It’s my second time in Sabah. I have played an ADT event in Kota Kinabalu before but that was a few years ago.
The game’s feeling good now. I played well in India last week and I shot a 64 to take the opening round lead. That gave me a lot of confidence.
I feel happy to play here in Sabah at the Sutera Habour. The views are really nice and the course is looking good. The fairways are in good condition too. I have played well on the ADT this year. I got off to a good start by winning the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship.
But my ultimate goal is still to win an Asian Tour event. There have been a lot of new winners on Tour this season. I hope to get mine soon. The focus is more on the Asian Tour now for sure. I will try my best this week.
Amir Nazrin (Mas)
The course is in a good shape. I will have to work more on the greens this week. The greens are pretty tricky here. It’s also quite windy out here. I haven’t played here for a long time. I think I last played here when I was still a junior 10 years ago. It’s been a long time but I can still recall.
The main goal for me is to keep the ball on the fairways this week. If I can do that, I should be able to play well. This is my third year as a professional. It’s been good so far, I have learned a lot and I hope to gain some momentum and put myself in a better position for next year.