Gavin Green rubbed shoulders with three-time major champion Jordan Spieth in college and is hoping to emulate the American by soaring up the golfing world.
Green, the highest ranked Malaysian golfer in the world at No 225, plays in the Maybank Championship which starts tomorrow – a tournament considered his ‘home event’ as the bank has been a loyal supporter since his early days.
But the 25-year-old does so after an average start to his second season on the European Tour as he has missed the cut in three of his six tournaments.
Asked about his season thus far, Green, who finished 47th at the 2016 Rio Olympics said: “It’s been up and down. There’s a couple of top 30 stuff between (the missed cuts) but it’s getting better.”
In his debut season a year ago, Green showed his potential when he finished 84th in the Race to Dubai standings.
He collected €548,819 (RM2.5 million) from 30 European Tour starts and his 84th placing meant he has access to bigger European Tour tournaments this year.
While admitting he has more control over his schedule this year, Green said he would still play in as many tournaments as possible.
“Yeah, it makes it easier because you know I get to plan my whole year basically. I’m still going to play most (of the events) but I can actually pick and choose some events and can take more breaks,” said the 2009 100Plus Malaysian Junior Open champion.
“I took last week off to prepare for this event. It’s always good to come home and I’ve not played here for nearly a year so I wanted to be prepared.”
“The schedule will fluctuate a bit as there will be months where it is packed but I now have access to bigger tournaments (which offer higher ranking points), so I need to get the points there and manage my schedule better.”
Green had some help last week as his coach, Chris O’Connell, flew in from the United States to give him some pointers ahead of this week’s challenge.
“It was good to have him here. It was time for a touch-up and having the week off meant it was a perfect opportunity for us to have some practice together,” said Green, the Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, topping the 2017 season with US$585,813 (RM2.3 million) from 17 tournaments.
Meanwhile, Miguel Angel Jimenez, 55, is also looking forward to making his mark at Saujana Golf and Country Club.
In his 31st season as a professional, the 21-time winner on the European Tour still has the burning desire to reach greater heights.
Known for his love for wine and cigars, Jimenez said he has to work even harder now to ensure he is in shape to match the young bucks on the tour.
“I’m still competitive and I still believe I can challenge and win tournaments. If not, I wouldn’t have flown all the way to Malaysia to play,” said the Spaniard.
“As you get older, your fitness regime changes. I still drink and smoke but the people (fans) don’t get to see me working very hard in the gym. In fact, I’m training even harder now to stay in shape.
“But I still enjoy my cigars and wine.”