Ben all smiles despite missing out on top-10 finish in Phuket

PETALING JAYA: Golfer Ben Leong (pic) could only close with a modest one-under 71 thus missing out on a top 10 finish at the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship.

The 35-year-old, tied 13th in the third round, mixed his scorecard with three birdies and two bogeys to finish tied 23rd on nine-under 279 yesterday.

There was also no final flourish from Nicholas Fung as he signed off with a 72 to finish joint 36th on six-under 282.

Taiwan’s Chan Shih-chang claimed his third Asian Tour title with a one-shot win over Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana and South Korea’s Kim Joo-hyung.

Shih-chang carded his third straight 68s for an 18-under 270 total and walked away with US$180,000 (RM763,000).

Ben was pleased with how things panned out on his first competitive return after 19 months.

Ever since the Tour was put on hold last year due to Covid-19, Ben said he was living through the pandemic as a “part-time golfer and a full-time dad”.

“It’s great to be back playing again,” said Ben, who pocketed US$10,000 (RM42,400) for his efforts.

“Making the cut this week is a big, big bonus plus playing under-par in all four rounds really caught me by surprise.

“I came into this tournament with zero expectations because there was absolutely no match practice.

“I’m pretty much a part-time golfer at home and a full-time dad. Practice three to four hours a day and after that just look after my kids.”

The Blue Canyon Phuket Championship marked the resumption of the Tour, which was suspended following the completion of the Malaysian Open in the first week of March last year.

The next tournament is the Laguna Phuket Championship which tees off on Thursday. The event which also offers a prize money of US$1mil (RM4.24mil) will be followed by two events in Singapore in January that will bring to a conclusion the 2020-21 season.

The 2022 season will start with the US$5mil (RM21.2mil) Saudi International at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from Feb 3-6.