By Jugjet Singh
MALAYSIAN golf professionals are set for another bumper year as the Professional Golf of Malaysia yesterday unveiled 19 tournaments and an increase of prize money to RM3 million next year.
This year, PGM organised 16 tournaments with a total purse of RM2.6 million, and their last leg will be the PGM Kinrara Masters starting on Monday, and offers a purse of RM300,000.
The 2012 calendar was unveiled by PGM chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club yesterday.
“Next year, we will be much stricter with the entries and a Qualifying School will be held on Jan 3-5 to maintain a high standard in the 16 legs,” said Ahmad Sarji.
The 50 top PGM Order of Merit golfers will receive automatic sanction to play next year, while the rest will have to qualify. There will also be a one-day qualifier before all 19 legs to give more members a chance to play in the PGM tournaments.
“Malaysian tournament winners on the Asian Tour will also receive a three year exemption while Malaysian winners in the Asian Development Tour will be granted a two-year exemption,” said Ahmad Sarji.
This year, out of the 16 legs, three were Asian Development Tours (ADT) but will be increased to next year.
“ADT tournaments will be increased to six and this will give our local professionals a chance to test their skills against 60 foreign Asian Tour players.
“We need to expose our players more often against ADT foreign players as this will only make them stronger in the sport.”
The biggest winner on the PGM Tour, before the Kinrara Masters, is Rashid Ismail who has earned a total of RM117,571.
Second on the Order of Merit is Nicholas Fung on RM100,676.
“When we started the PGM Tour, the winners were quite predictable and the scores were quite high. However, after a short span, it is hard to predict who will win as the younger professionals are fast moving up the leaderboard and winners keep changing at every leg.
“The scores are also much more respectable now, and that is why we will be holding a Qualifying School to take it to the next level,” said Ahmad Sarji.
And the target of PGM in the next few years is to have at least 20 Malaysians in the Asian Tour and five in the European Tour.
“That is our target, as I believe by playing more domestically, and also against foreign pros in the six ADT legs, our locals have what it takes to break into the Asian Tour in big numbers, and a select few look promising enough to break into the European Tour in the next few years,” said Ahmad Sarji.