KUALA LUMPUR: He is set to become the first ever Malaysian to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit. Gavin Green, who even upstaged World No 1 Dustin Johnson and other big names on the first day of this week’s World Golf Championships HSBC in Shanghai, talks with Timesport’s Farah Azharie about his life on the Tour.
Q: You must be on a high now. Three runner-up finishes (Hero Indian Open, Yeangder Heritage and Shinhan Donghae Open) and one title (Taiwan Masters) on the Asian Tour this year, and now the World Golf. How do you feel?
A: With this being my rookie year on the Asian Tour, there have been lots of new experiences and new golf courses. I definitely am getting more comfortable out there and it’s showing in my play.
Q: Outsiders see golfers earning good money and think it’s all glitz and glam. What’s the reality of being a professional on Tour?
A: It’s tough! Travelling on your own takes some getting used to – managing fluid travel plans, while keeping yourself busy, so you’re not getting lonely all the time while making sure your game is sharp, is not the easiest task.
Q: How long would it take for Malaysian golfers to be as good as, say, the Americans? What would it take? What are we lacking?
A: I think cost is probably one of the biggest drawbacks. I mean, compared to other sports where we can just buy a racquet or a ball to start off with, it is more costly when you have to invest in clubs, balls, gloves, practice balls at the driving range and even playing on the golf course.
That’s why it’s difficult for us to get the numbers. If there were more golfers, golf would be more affordable and it’ll be easier for us to grow the game. I guess it is a chicken and egg situation.
Q: Many aspiring local golfers always mention your name as the most decorated amateur (in the early days) in Malaysia. If you could have done anything differently when you were an amateur, what would it be and why?
A: I don’t think I would have done anything differently. I mean, junior golf was good and I had the opportunity to play quite a few international tournaments as my parents had the foresight that playing in such tournaments would help me improve.
My college years were good too. I played great golf, had a great college coach, played numerous amateur events, internationally and even had the chance to play in professional tournaments against top-ranked professionals. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more.
Q: Walk us through your short-term plans and long-term goals.
A: Short-term goals are focused on maintaining my good play on the Asian Tour. As for long-term goals, I have my eye set on international circuits and competing in major championships.
Q: If you could fast forward to 10 years from now, what do you ideally see yourself doing?
A: Still playing great golf would be awesome!
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring local golfers?
A: Get as much experience as possible playing internationally and plan your pro career. Turning pro is a big decision and it needs to be properly planned.
Q: Who do you attribute your successes to and why?
A: I think the main people would be my Dad and my Mom. They have been instrumental in my career. I can never thank them enough for the sacrifices they have made to ensure that we (my brother Galven and I) had the opportunities we needed to help us succeed.
They also set a very strong foundation for us in terms of our upbringing and the values they’ve instilled in us. I also have a great team who are extremely supportive.
Q: If you weren’t a golfer, what would you be and why?
A: I’ve been golfing for so long, since I was seven and I’ve always wanted to be a pro golfer. I just can’t imagine doing anything else.
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
A: Hahahahaha! I think I would like to be able to make things happen – like willing the golf ball into the hole.