Fung dreams of Olympics as Hend clinches Maybank Championship crown

Soctt Hend and Al-Sultan Abdullah Shah

Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung and Gavin Green finished in the top 30 at the Maybank Championship today as Scott Hend of Australia clinched the title in dramatic fashion.

Hend, who was battling Spain’s Nacho Elvira, endured a 101-minute weather delay before winning the title on the first playoff hole.

Elvira forced the playoff by sinking a monster putt to finish on 15-under 273. Hend two-putted to par the hole.

Elvira forced the playoff by sinking a monster putt to finish on 15-under 273. Hend two-putted to par the hole.

In the playoff, Hend kept his cool to birdie the 18th hole to clinch the US$500,000 first prize for this third European Tour title and 10th Asian Tour crown. Elvira pocketed US$333,330.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah handed the trophy to Hend.

For Fung, his tied 15th position gave him his best finish at a European Tour event and gave him hope of catching Ben Leong and Shahriffudin Ariffin in the race to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Green, Malaysia’s No 1 golfer at world No 225, is almost certain to make the cut for his second Olympics – he finished 47th in Rio three years ago.

Fung, who is world No 641, needs to catch Leong (448) and Shahriffudin (588) to join Green in Tokyo.

“It was important to get the (ranking) points on the board as the Olympics is one of the targets this year.

“This is my best finish in a European Tour. My previous best was at this event three years ago (tied 24th),” said Fung.

Nicholas Fung
Fung is also playing to earn his card on the Asian Tour.

With the Maybank Championship co-sanctioned by both tours, the Sabahan, who is getting married to Suki Loh in December, knows he has to be on his toes from now until the end of the year.

“My exemption (for winning the 2017 Queen’s Cup) ends this year. If I want to keep my card on the Asian Tour, I need to finish among the top 60 (in the Order of Merit),” said Fung, who is now ranked 34th.

“I also plan to play on the Japan Tour this year but it would be good to also keep my Asian Tour card.”

Meanwhile, Green was delighted to end the tournament joint 30th on five-under 283.

“I made up the numbers and moved up the leaderboard which is good, but I wish I had played better,” said Green, who like Fung, heads to India for next week’s Indian Open.

“I’m striking the ball well but just not sinking the putts. The finish was great after a poor first day. It’s frustrating but that’s golf. It is what it is.

“It’s something to work on and hopefully fix before my next event.”

For full results, visit the Asian Tour website.