KUALA LUMPUR: Mohd Shaaban Hussin produced a sparkling performance on the final day of a national qualifying tournament yesterday to claim the prized spot for a Malaysian professional to compete in the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in October.
A gruelling three-day battle involving 100 local pros at Mines Resort and Golf Club in Seri Kembangan culminated with a thrilling sudden-death playoff that ended with Shaaban prevailing over crowd favourite Danny Chia to win the ticket to the US$6mil event.
The 30-year-old missed the chance to sink a birdie on the last hole to take an outright victory. But he regained his composure to birdie in a 30-foot putt to become the first confirmed player who will feature in the region’s richest golf tournament of the year.
For his efforts in the qualifiers, carding 67-68-69 for a total of nine-under 204, Shaaban walked away with the winner’s purse of RM22,000.
Shaaban, who was placed second after the first and second round of play, was delighted to have managed to raise his game when it counted.
And he is looking forward to playing in the company of world-class golfers in the Classic where he is assured of a purse of at least US$50,000 in the field of 40 golfers. But for Shaaban it is not all about the money.
“I wanted to qualify outright and become the first confirmed participant for a first US PGA Tour sanctioned event in this region,” said the Asian Tour professional.
“It is already an honour to fly the Malaysian flag and at least I don’t have to worry about waiting for the sponsors’ exemption.
“In a playoff, everyone has a chance and the only thing you can do is try not to make mistakes. I’m glad everything turned out well for me today.”
Shaaban added that he planned to use the prize money he won yesterday to send his mother on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Danny carded a five-under 66 to tie with Shaaban at the end of third-round regulation play while overnight leader M. Sasidaran was placed joint third with Iain Steel on eight-under 205.
“I was really disappointed with my putting. It’s just the wrong place to be. If it doesn’t happen for me, I can’t do anything about it. Everything went according to my plan at the beginning but it went downhill from there,” said Danny.”
But the British Open-bound Danny remained hopeful and optimistic about earning a place in the Classic. He may receive a sponsors’ exemption if he maintains his position as the highest-ranked Malaysian in the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
The top 25 available players from the PGA Tour’s final FedExCup standings qualify for the Classic offering the winner US$1mil in prize money.
They will be joined by the top 10 players from the current Asian Tour Order of Merit. The remaining five players will come under sponsors’ exemptions.