KUALA LUMPUR: Amateur golfers Nathan Hauser and Im Man O can look forward to rubbing shoulders with top professionals like Thongchai Jaidee and Padraig Harrington in the US$1.25mil Maybank Malaysian Open, which will be held at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club from Feb 16-19.
Australian Hauser carded a sizzling five-under 67 at the venue yesterday to emerge as the winner of a special qualifying round to determine the two spots reserved for amateurs. Korean-born American Man O shot a three-under 69 to make the grade.
It is the first time that the Malaysian Open held a qualifying round to determine the spots for amateurs because it was felt that the golfers in the country should be given the chance to fight for places.
Malaysians Mohd Shukree Othman, Edmund Au and Akhmal Tarmizee fell short, finishing joint third with a score of one-under 71.
The 32-year-old Hauser, who custom fits golf clubs for a living, said: “I have only played here a few times and I did not expect to make the cut.
“The tees were well-positioned andwhen I started getting the birdies, I knew I would have a good round (he signed off with five birdies and a bogey).”
The two-handicapper, who has been based in Malaysia for seven years, will be playing in a top professional event for the first time.
The 34-year-old Man O, who has been living here for the past three years, said: “There are not that many golf tournaments for amateurs in this country. This is a special chance for us to play in a professional event.”
Apart from the two places for amateurs which were decided yesterday, the organisers have 11 places reserved for Malaysians – seven professionals and four amateurs from the national team. Six professionals have confirmed their places – Airil Rizman, Mohd Rashid Ismail, Steven Tan, M. Sasidaran, R. Nachimuthu and Shaaban Hussin. The final spot will be confirmed after the Malaysian PGA championships on Feb 11.