Star-struck Shaaban won’t let Woods distract him from top 10 goal

Tips from the top: Defending champion Bo Van Pelt (left) speaking to some of the junior golfers during the pro-am Wednesday.

IT WILL be his third outing in the third edition of the CIMB Classic and all Malaysian pro Shaaban Hussin is hoping for is a happier ending.

Admitting that he might be a bit star-struck when he sees his idol Tiger Woods in the fray, Shaaban was quick to point out that “it will not distract me from my goal of finishing in the top-10”.

“My target is to do better than last year (joint 45th). Actually, I’d prefer to finish in the top-10 or top-15. I’m looking forward to that,” said Shaaban, who qualified for the CIMB Classic by virtue of being the second highest ranked Malaysian on the Official World Golf Ranking.

The prospect of playing alongside Woods and having his photograph taken with the 14-time Major champion will, he said, serve as an inspiration for him.

Like everyone else, local hope Shaaban is eager to be paired with Woods at the US$6.1mil event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.

The Asian Tour regular had the local media in stitches when he revealed that he tried stalking Woods at the Westin Hotel, the tournament’s official hotel, on Tuesday but without success.

“I waited for him yesterday at the hotel’s lobby but I didn’t see him. I didn’t know which door he went out from. I wanted a picture with him. The only way I can see him now is if I play well and get paired up with him. Tiger is my idol ... he is a legend,” said Shaaban.

“My game on the Asian Tour is always very strong in the first two days. But I always blow up during the weekend. I’m still not comfortable with the crowd following me. I need to control my emotions and not think about the crowd. If I can do that, then I can play well.”

Shaaban’s also hoping that the presence of his wife and young son in the galleries will serve as a motivation for him to have a good outing at the Mines Resort and Golf Club although he conceded they were coming out to watch Woods.

“My wife and son are here along with some other relatives. They are not only supporting me but Tiger as well! It is not cold in Malaysia but they will come and walk the course. That gives me the confidence and inspiration. I think they just want me to play well,” said the lanky golfer.

“My form is good. I played well in Macau and India the last two weeks (finishing 21st and 79th). The course this week is in good condition. If my driving and short irons are good, then I think I can do well.”

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