I still have chance to break into top 30, says Nicholas

PETALING JAYA: Nicholas Fung (pic) insists the door is still open for him to qualify for the lucrative US$5mil (RM21.2mil) Saudi International, the Asian Tour season-opener from Feb 3-6.

The 31-year-old golfer has three more tournaments to break into the top 30 of the Tour’s Order of Merit before the season draws to a close at the Singapore Open (Jan 20-23).

Nicholas is now ranked 60th in the money list with US$13,200 (RM56,000) from five starts, including US$6,800 (RM28,800) courtesy of a tied-36th finish at the just concluded Blue Canyon Phuket Championship.

The tournament marked the resumption of the Tour after being put on hold for 19 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Laguna Phuket Championship which begins on Thursday and the newly-formed Singapore International from Jan 14-17 are the other two meets added into the schedule to form an eight-event abbreviated 2020-2021 season.

The mega-rich Saudi International will then kickstart an exciting new season which could see a record-breaking combined prize-fund being offered in 2022, thanks to a fresh US$200mil (RM828mil) cash injection into the Tour by LIV Golf Investments led by Australian legend Greg Norman.

And Nicholas wants to be part of the new season.

“There’s still every chance for me to make the top 30 but I’ll need to deliver in the remaining three events starting this week,” said Nicholas, who won the 2017 Queens Cup for his sole Asian Tour victory to date.

“I’m targeting a top 20 finish in these events, hopefully that will be good enough to get me in.”

Nicholas said he has plenty of positives to build on from last week’s event.

“It feels really good to be back. A tied 36th to begin with after a 19-month hiatus wasn’t too bad,” said Nicholas.

“My game was rusty at the start but I managed to shrug it off to put together a few good rounds after that.

“I don’t think I have ever been away from competition this long in my entire career. So it’s really a challenge to get back to competitive mode.

“Hopefully things will get even better this week.”

Ben Leong, who finished joint 23rd in Phuket, is another Malaysian vying to crack into the top 30.

He sits 42nd after raking in US$20,100 (RM85,200) from four appearances.