KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Asian Tour Order of Merit leader David Lipsky has already secured European Tour playing privileges this year but the American is eyeing an even grander ticket to his home PGA Tour at this week’s CIMB Classic in Malaysian.
The 26-year-old Californian made the most of the Asian Tour’s co-sanctioning tie ups to seal a European circuit card until the end of 2016 with victory in Switzerland last month at the European Masters.
The lucrative win rocketed him to the top of the regional money list and helped book one of the 10 spots for Asian Tour players at the U.S. PGA Tour’s $7 million CIMB Classic which begins on Thursday and offers an even greater prize.
The $1.26 million winner’s cheque would all but end the annual earnings race in Asia but the two-year exemption on the world’s most prestigious and lucrative tour would be far more valuable.
“Being from the United States, definitely, getting to the PGA Tour at some point is one of my goals,” Lipsky told reporters in the Malaysian capital on Monday.
“So you know, I’ve been progressing every year with my game and developing everything so hopefully the next couple years, I’ll be able to take that next step and play the PGA Tour.”
The Northwestern University graduate has not looked back since trying his luck on the Asian Tour in 2012 after winning the qualifying school.
He won the Handa Faldo Cambodian Classic on his third start before returning to the Asian Tour’s winner circle this year with a $500,000 first prize in Switzerland.
India’s Anirban Lahiri has won twice on the Asian Tour but in smaller events, meaning he sits second in the standings, around $165,000 behind Lipsky’s tally of $669,170 with eight events left this season.
“Obviously, Anirban is playing well but as long as I take care of business and do what I need to do, then everything should take care of itself,” Lipsky said of his chances of staying top.
No Asian Tour player has won the co-sanctioned CIMB Classic in its four previous years but Lipsky was quietly optimistic after a venue switch from the short and tame Mines Country Club to the more testing Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
“I’ve played well here in the past and I have good memories, so I‘m looking forward to the week,” Lipsky said, adding his local caddie was arguably more excited to be back in Kuala Lumpur than he was.
”It’s my fourth event here. I’ve played ten rounds here. So I know the course quite well.
“I finished third here in a European Tour event a few years ago, so I know I can play well around this course. It’s just a matter of executing the shots I need to see.”
Writing by Patrick Johnston; Editing by John O'Brien