PIC: SHAABAN HUSSIN
MALAYSIAN Golf Association (MGA) turned out to be the biggest winners of the Maybank Malaysian Open, when they received a grant of RM2 million from the government for the development of junior golfers.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made the the announcement when he presented the Seagram Trophy to tournament winner Louis Oosthuizen on Sunday.
The fact that only Shaaban Hussin made the half-way cut in the Malaysian Open, while 21 others fell by the wayside, paints a perfect picture of the current local golf scene.
The smile on MGA president Tan Sri Mohamed Anwar Mohamed Nor’s face after hearing the announcement said it all, but he should know that getting the grant is just the beginning of a long uphill battle to produce a local champion.
MGA recently announced the formation of a Junior Club to register all juniors under 18 years old with the governing body and among some of the benefits or joining with a fee of RM20 are:
Free Handicap from the National Handicapping System.
Invitation to attend golf clinics conducted by MGA.
Invitation to attend National Golf Camps.
Be included in the Order of Merit to represent Malaysia in the local and international events.
Play at some MGA affiliated clubs at special rates.
. Special rates on golf apparels and equipment at selected shops.
That move to register all juniors under one umbrella is long overdue, and was refreshing considering that not a single Malaysian has won the Malaysian Open since its inception in 1962.
Even golfers from the Philippines, Ireneo Legaspi (1967) and Ben Arda (1970) have won the Malaysian Open. Not to mention, the six Japanese, three China, two South Korean Malaysian Open champions who showed that Asians can compete against the rest of the world.
Thailand golfer Thongchai Jaidee deserves special mention as he won back-to-back in 2004 and 2005.
History also has witnessed China’s Lu Hsi-chuen winning a hat-trick of titles in 1979, 81 and 84.
So, when Shaaban came close to tears after signing in his card at joint-57th, Malaysian golf fans were crying their hearts out at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
They have resigned to the fact that it is a near impossible task for a Malaysian to be atop the podium in the next decade -- and nasty jokes were flying around the greens as well as the many sponsors marquees.
Money is never a problem, as even the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour, in its infancy, has attracted 19 sponsored legs which offers a total of RM3 million in prize money.
But while the MGA money will go towards developing the youth, the rich PGM Tour might just make local golfers lazy to venture beyond our shores as the pickings are easier here.
Shaaban was spot on, when he blasted some golfers who were handed the Asian Tour cards on a platter but refused to get out of the local comfort zone.
“How are they going to improve their game if they do not venture abroad but keep on playing at home? lamented Shaaban.