OMAN champion Wong Hung Nung qualified for this year’s Astro Masters grand final when he topped the gross category in the eighth qualifying round, hosted by Palm Garden Golf Club in IOI Resort in Putrajaya.
The 4-handicapper had no fewer than six birdies on his card as he strode to a three-over-par 75 after 18 holes, played in good, clear and cool weather.
A professional golfer from 1989 to 1994, Wong also came close to securing the hole-in-one prize, a Mazda CX-9 2.5-litre SUV, after his ball ended up just six inches from the flag stick.
Wong, who said he was returning from spine surgery, added that he registered for the tournament a month before the event.
“It is a slow process of recovery and my golf is slowly progressing, so, I am very happy to have won here and I am looking forward to competing in the grand final, ” added the player who is also a former footballer and turned out for national team from 1977 to ’86.
“I hit the ball solid and I also know the course well, but somehow I left a lot of putts out there, ” said the 61-year-old who won the Astro Masters grand final in Oman two years ago.
Accompanying Wong on the trip to the grand final in Taipei, Taiwan from Sept 17 to 20 will be 11-handicapper Shahrizan Ahmad.
He won the nett category with a five-under-par 67, based on the tournament’s Unique Rules of a maximum five-under nett.
The gross and nett winners of each of the qualifying rounds earn tickets to the grand final.
While Wong came agonisingly close to acing the designated hole, Mahyuddin Zainy did hit a hole-in-one on No 7.
The A Medal title went to 10-handicaper Mohd Kasim Mat Adam who signed for four-under 68 nett score.
Abdul Aziz Hassan (11 h’cp) clinched the B Medal honours with a five-under 67 nett, while Mohd Yusaa Mohd Noor (17) won the C Medal with an identical 67 nett.
The Nearest-to-Line prize at the 320-metre par-4, 16th hole was won by four golfers - a first for the Astro Masters. Amran Ariffin, Abdul Latiff Jamin, Abdul Razak Azhari and Onn Chuan Tham were all on the line and each received an Aldila driver shaft for their efforts.
The Longest Drive prize was captured by Jacky Tan Jin Hong who set a tournament record after sending his ball 288 metres down the fairway on hole No 6.
The Sure-to-Win Nearest-to-Pin prize was collected by Low Teck Poh. His tee shot on the 166-metre par-3, 2nd hole came to rest a mere two feet from the cup.
The Astro Masters, now in its 22nd season, had a field of 128 players on the Ted Parslow-designed Palm Garden course.
With the ninth leg scheduled for Meru Valley Golf & Country Club in Ipoh, Perak yesterday, the remaining two qualifiers are set for the Els Club Desaru Coast in Johor on Aug 17 and Tropicana Golf & Country Club in Petaling Jaya, Selangor on Aug 21.
The event is open to Astro subscribers for a fee of RM400, while non-subscribers pay RM600.
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