Friday, September 19, 2014

Shaaban in the hunt..

MALAYSIA’S Shaaban Hussin slam-dunked an eagle from 120 meters as he stayed within touching reach of second round leader Anirban Lahiri of India at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters at the Seri Selangor Golf Club yesterday.
   The home hero battled to a one-under-par 70 for a two-day total of four-under-par 138 to lie in tied ninth place, six shots behind the pacesetter at the RM1.3 million Asian Tour tournament.
    After snaring successive eagles during his opening round, Shaaban, who is playing on his home course, enjoyed another memorable moment when he holed out his approach shot for a delightful two on the par four first hole, his 10th of the day, with a wedge.
   “I’m definitely happy because I’m still up there on the leaderboard. I started off slowly but luckily I came back with my eagle on the first hole. I didn’t get off to a good start and my confidence went down,” said Shaaban.
   “I tried to stay focused and I started to fight back. The turning point was the eagle on one. It was an excellent shot with my pitching wedge and my ball went straight into the hole ... there was no bounce. I thought my ball had gone over the green but I saw some scratches on the edge of the cup and then I found my ball in the hole.”
    Much to his dismay though, he gave the two shots straight back on the second hole with a double bogey but the slender Malaysian finished strongly with three more birdies over his last five holes to trail his playing partner Lahiri, who leads on 132.
    “It was a simple double bogey. I wasn’t really in any trouble but walked away with a double,” he lamented.
    Five years ago, he was also in contention at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters before finishing tied 11th. He is fired up to improve on that showing this weekend.
   “I think I can do better. I want to finish lower than what I did previously. I think I’m in contention and anything can happen. Hopefully I can minimise my mistakes and avoid the bogeys and double bogeys,” he said.
    Ben Leong, the 2008 Selangor Masters champion, continued his comeback from injury with a second round 69 to safely make the cut with his 141 total while the other Malaysians who made the halfway cut were Hans Jamil (142), Danny Chia (142), Sukree Othman (143), Khor Kheng Hwai (143), Nicholas Fung (144) and Md Azman Basharudin (144).
    Iylia Jamil is even par for the tournament with several holes to complete while Kenneth De Silva is one-over with three holes to complete on Saturday morning following a weather delay in the afternoon.

Lahiri shows his class

INDIAN star Anirban Lahiri enjoyed a birdie binge en route to a seven-under-par 64 for a two-shot lead after the first round of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters at the Seri Selangor Golf Club yesterday.
The 27-year-old Lahiri, currently second on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, sank 10 birdies against three bogeys to put himself in prime position for a second win of the season.
Countryman S.S.P. Chowrasia carded a 66 to share second place with Taiwan’s Chan Yih-Shin while another Taiwan golfer, Hung Chien-Yao carded a 67 for fourth place in the RM1.3 million Asian Tour event.
Malaysia’s Shaaban Hussin emerged as the best home player, firing a 68 to share fifth position with, amongst others, Australian rookie Cameron Smith, Thailand’s Sattaya Supupramai and Chapchai Nirat and American Berry Henson.
Shaaban, who played alongside Lahiri and David Lipsky of the United States, made the most of his home course knowledge, firing successive eagles on the fifth and sixth holes.
“Making those two eagles was unbelievable but on the next hole, I pulled my tee shot and then made double!
“I was trying to go for a third straight eagle,” said Shaaban, who was in contention at the event in 2009 before settling for joint 11th place.
An in-form Lahiri, who finished tied fourth in Taiwan last weekend and was runner-up here last season, was delighted with his blistering start.
“I’m really happy with how I played. I got off to a good start and made a couple of good putts.
“It could have been even better. I missed some short putts but I hit it really good,” said Lahiri, who is a four-time Tour winner.

Arul: Four quarters fine with us..

By Devinder Singh

INTERIM national hockey coach Arul Selvaraj believes the new four-quarter format to be used for the Asian Games will play to Malaysia’s strengths.
The national team are looking to win the men’s hockey gold for the first time which also brings with it qualification for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
The new game duration — four quarters of 15 minutes each — compared to the usual two halves of 35 minutes will place a greater premium on speed.
Arul said that could work to Malaysia’s advantage as they look to press the opposition for shorter periods.
“It’s a format that is gaining acceptance in Europe though it is still new to Asia,” he said upon arriving in Incheon yesterday.
“We have tried it out a few times and the game I think will see more attacking play and goals.
“You will certainly see more opportunities and with 15 minutes in each quarter, you can go all out and send your subs in more often, unlike the 35-minute halves where the pace can be slower.”
With each team limited to a roster of 16 players, Arul decided to pick just one goalkeeper in S. Kumar.
“I don’t think of ‘ifs’ in making the choice or you will never be able to make a decision,” he said of the risk in bringing a solitary goalkeeper.
“The players are aware of their roles and they know they have to protect the goalkeeper. Hockey goalkeepers are the most protected anyway with all their padding.
“In this format, I need legs to win matches and the players know what they are capable of doing.”
Malaysia open against Singapore tomorrow before facing Bangladesh, South Korea and Japan in Pool A.
The national team won silver four years ago in Guangzhou, after a 2-0 defeat by Pakistan in the final, in their best finish at the Asian Games yet.

Guan Tianlang for CIMB Classic

THE CIMB Classic will also welcome its first Chinese national after 15-year-old Guan Tianlang (pic) accepted a sponsor’s invite to compete at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) on Oct 30 to Nov 2.
    Malaysia will have two representatives - Danny Chia who won the SapuraKencana National Qualifier, and the other spot going to the highest ranked local golfer in the world rankings as at Oct 20.
   Guan Tianlang, China’s golf prodigy, is considered one of the best amateurs in the world and will play at the CIMB Classic under a sponsor’s invite.
  Guan made global headlines when he became the youngest ever player to play and make the cut at last year’s Masters Tournament, earning rave reviews along the way.
     The other exciting confirmations are from Major champions, the reigning FedExCup champion, Ryder Cup team members, CIMB Classic past champions and fast rising Asian stars.
   Leading the early commitments is World No 3 Sergio Garcia of Spain, and he is joined by 2014 FedExCup champion Billy Horschel (US), as well as Asia's leading golfers Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa from Japan.
  Defending champion Ryan Moore (US) will return to KLGCC to defend his CIMB Classic title, and also returning to the country is Malaysian Open Champion Lee Westwood (Eng).
   Americans Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed, who will join Garcia and Westwood at the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland -- will also be in the exciting field.
   The Classic, now into its fifth year, will feature a 78-player elite field, comprising 60 from the PGA Tour, 10 from the Asian Tour and eight sponsor’s exemptions.
   “In just 5 years, the CIMB Classic has taken its place among the largest tournaments in the world and the stage is once again set for some world-class golf,” said Effendy Shahul Hamid, Group Chief Marketing & Communications Officer of CIMB Group.
    “If these early commitments are anything to go by, come October, Malaysia will once again showcase a stellar collection of the best players from across the globe."
   Garcia had three runner-up finishes on the 2013-14 PGA Tour season including the Open Championship and the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Garcia finished tied 11th at the 2013 CIMB Classic and finished the season ranked No 13 on the FedExCup standings.
   Also returning to the Classic is Horschel, the newly minted FedExCup champion. Despite missing the cut at The Barclays, Horschel rallied and delivered one of the best closing stretches in PGA TOUR history, finishing tied-second at the Deutsche Bank Championship and winning both the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, becoming the youngest FedExCup champion in history.
  Horschel’s win at East Lake moved him into the top-15 of the Official World Golf Rankings.
   Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa are two of the PGA Tour’s young and rising international stars and two of Japan's most recognised sportsmen.