Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung hopes to spring a surprise at the inaugural US$1.5 million Ho Tram Open which starts on Thursday, saying he feels at home at the award-winning The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip course.
Following several strong performances in recent weeks, the 25-year-old is shooting for a maiden Asian Tour title against a stellar field which includes Major winners Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland, Y.E. Yang of Korea, Australian Geoff Ogilvy and world number 12 Sergio Garcia of Spain.
“The course is not overly long which suits my game. But we’ll have to deal with the wind where we need to be careful. I’m comfortable in these conditions. You don’t really need to hit it low all the time as it’s a fairly undulating course. Just need to put the ball in play as birdie chances will be high,” said Fung.
“It’s my second last event for the year and I just want to go out and have some fun. Don’t need to put pressure on myself.”
Ranked 36th on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, Fung is desperate to launch a late push to secure a spot in Team Asia for the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM against Europe next month.
With a winner’s purse of US$270,000 on offer here, a victory or top-three finish will give Fung a fighting chance to represent Team Asia again after being a captain’s pick in the inaugural edition last year. Fung he needs to finish amongst the top four Asians on the Order of Merit by December 14.
“I’m also thinking about the EurAsia Cup. If I can finish well over the next two weeks and earn some world ranking points, maybe I’ll have a chance. Danny (Chia) is also in the running to make the team. Unless I win this week, I could get up on the Order of Merit but it’s not going to be easy,” he said.
“It’ll be good to represent Asia. It’s not easy to get into the team and it’s our only chance to represent the region. Everybody is aiming for a spot in the team over the next two weeks. It’s also good exposure for Malaysian golf if I can make the team again. I learned a lot from the first EurAsia Cup, it gave me a lot of confidence and made me a better golfer in many ways,” Fung explained.
After taking a week’s break from golf, Chia, who ended a 13-year title drought in October, currently occupies the fourth and final position on the Order of Merit to qualify for the EurAsia Cup.
He knows a good result at the Ho Tram Open, which is the richest full-field Asian Tour event this season, will hand him a dream debut.
“It is definitely on my mind. I would like to finish as the fourth highest ranked Asian. I have two more events to play so I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Chia.
Similar to the other golfers in the elite field this week, Chia was awestruck by the beautiful and picturesque The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip course.
“This is a different experience. I don’t think I’ve played on any courses like this before. It gets really windy here and it has been a while since I played in such windy conditions. It will be a challenging week. It is a shot-making golf course and I enjoy the scenery here. I need to make a lot of adjustments in my swing to overcome the wind. It will be interesting to see how I play this week,” said Chia.
Since opening in October 2014, the links-style layout, located two hours southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, has been hailed by many of the world’s leading authorities on golf. In January, GOLF Magazine named it one of the world’s best new courses. In July, the Australian Financial Review called it “as pretty a course as you’ll find on the entire Asian continent.” Last month, it was named the “World’s Best New Course” at the World Golf Awards ceremony in Portugal.