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Seremban, Malaysia: Malaysia’s Akhmal Tarmizee is banking on his home course knowledge to spur him on to victory at the Negeri Sembilan Masters Invitational which starts on Thursday.
Akhmal, 20, is steadying himself as he prepares to play against defending champion Lam Chih Bing of Singapore, Unho Park of Australia and Aung Win of Myanmar, currently leading the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit at the Seremban International Golf Club, located about an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur.
Iain Steel, Shaaban Hussin and Ben Leong, a winner on the Asian Tour alongside Nicholas Fung and Haziq Hamizan will spearhead the local charge at the RM500,000 (approximately US$156,000) tournament which is the first Malaysian event to join the Asian Development Tour this year.
Akhmal is gearing up to mend his heartbreak of missing his Asian Tour card by one stroke at the Qualifying School earlier this year.
The top three of the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit will earn playing rights on the Asian Tour and Akhmal, currently tied second on the Order of Merit, knows a victory will be put him in good position for one of the tickets.
“It was disappointing when I missed my chance for my Asian Tour card but at least now I have an opportunity to earn my card,” said Akhmal who finished tied third in the first Asian Development Tour tournament in Myanmar.
Akhmal, who won the Bronze medal in the South East Asia Games (SEA Games) in 2007, believes his home course knowledge will be the key to success.
“The course is in great condition but the greens are tricky to read. I played this course so many times but it is always different when you play in a tournament. The set up is different and it is a lot more difficult. I shot a 62 here before on a normal day but I reckon if I maintain a 67 to 69, I will be able to win it,” said Akhmal.
Similar to Akhmal, England’s Nick Redfern is also determined for a good result at the Negeri Sembilan Masters Invitational as it will boost his chances for a top-three finish on the Order of Merit.
Redfern, who finished tied second at the King’s Cup in Thailand last year after losing in a play-off, has played in five Asian Tour Qualifying School but has never finished in the top-40. He sees this as a good opportunity to make amends.
“The fast track way to earn my card now is to play the Asian Development Tour and make it in the top three of the Order of Merit. I intend to play every Asian Development Tour event and that’s why I flew all the way from London for this event,” said Redfern, who is in tied sixth on the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit.
Redfern is confident of carding a good result should he manage to avoid the roughs.
“It is important to hit the fairways because of the type of grass. It is a tough and resilient grass and if you miss the fairway, especially on the longer par fours, you are going to struggle to make the green in regulation,” he added.
Title holder Lam is relishing a happy homecoming to Seremban. He has been riding a rich vein of form with two top-10s on the Asian Tour this season and winning a tournament in Singapore two weeks ago.
“I’m feeling pretty good. It is always good to go back to the place which brings back good memories,” said Lam, a winner on the Asian Tour.
“My game was good when I won the local event but I seem to be struggling a bit with my swing. Hopefully it will click the next few days. The course seems to be playing a little longer but I’m feeling good and looking forward to the week,” he added.
Lam believes the Negeri Sembilan Masters Invitational has grown tremendously since its inception in 2005.
“This tournament has definitely gone up a step by being part of the Asian Development Tour and the prize money is really good. It is really a good tournament to play in,” said Lam.

Asian Tour

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