Golf: Amir hopes to keep his nerves in check at star-studded Maybank Championship

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PETALING JAYA: Amir Nazrin Jailani’s ultimate goal as a professional golfer is to ply his trade on the European Tour one day.

But the 20-year-old probably didn’t think he would earn his European Tour debut just 13 months after he joined the play-for-pay ranks.

It will be a dream come true – of sorts – when Amir he tees off in the US$3mil (RM12mil) Maybank Championship at the Saujana Golf and Country Club from Feb 1-4.

He secured his spot in the 156-man field tournament by virtue of being among the top 10 finishers of last season’s PGM Tour Order of Merit.

Amir netted RM72,412 from 17 appearances – courtesy of four top 10 finishes – to be placed eighth on the money list. He was the best-performing rookie of the season.

The other nine qualifiers are Order of Merit champion Shahriffuddin Ariffin, R. Nachimuthu, Arie Irawan Fauzi, Sukree Othman, Khor Kheng Hwai, Kemarol Baharin, Airil Rizman Zahari, Muhd Wafiyuddin Abdul Manaf and M. Sasidaran.

Amir plans to make the most of his career’s biggest start in the tournament jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour.

“I’m so excited to be part of the Maybank Championship as it’s my first time playing on both the Asian and European Tours.

“So, it’s going to be the biggest tournament that I’ll be playing to date.

“Although it’s just a one-off appearance, I intend to enjoy and learn as much as I can that week.

“The European Tour, especially, is where I hope to earn my Tour card and play there regularly in the future,” added Amir, who idolises Rory McIlroy of Ireland and Martin Kaymer of Germany.

While admitting he will be overwhelmed by the big occasion, Amir hopes he can keep his nerves in check and make a strong impression in the star-studded event.

“I’m going to try to make the cut, and then shoot better scores to finish the tournament strongly,” he said.

“I think I can do it as long as I keep calm and stay relaxed,” he said.

Reigning Asian Tour No. 1 and Maybank ambassador Gavin Kyle Green will spearhead the local challenge alongside fellow Asian Tour regulars Nicholas Fung, Danny Chia and Ben Leong.

World No. 9 Henrik Stenson of Sweden has committed to the third edition and more big names are expected to be announced by the organisers in the coming weeks.

The 156-man field will also include five spots for South-East Asia’s up-and-coming golfers.

Australia’s Marcus Fraser won it in 2016 and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti clinched it last year.

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