Shah Alam: Title holder Angelo Que amazingly shot two holes-in-one today in preparation for his defence of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters which starts tomorrow.
The affable Filipino, who has never produced an ace in his career previously, fired the magical shots at the par three sixth and 14th holes at Kota Permai Golf and Country Club, which is hosting the US$400,000 Asian Tour event for the first time.
Que was thrilled with his sterling effort with a six iron and pitching wedge respectively, which officials believe was a first in Asian Tour history.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start. I’ve never had a hole-in-one in my life and all of the sudden, I have two in one day! The funny thing was we were talking about it on the 14th tee and said what if I had another hole in one here and I did it. It could be a good omen or a bad omen. When you’re so lucky on one day, the next day might be different. Hopefully it’ll continue for the whole week,” said a delighted Que.
Whether it was sheer luck, Que knows he must be at his best form to defend his Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters title against the likes of Bangladeshi sensation Siddikur, ranked second on the Order of Merit and South African Jbe Kruger, who is fourth on the rankings.
Malaysia’s Shaaban Hussin, Danny Chia, Iain Steel and Ben Leong, winner of the event in 2008, will spearhead the local challenge while India’s Anirban Lahiri and American Berry Henson, two of this season’s winners, are also in this week’s elite field.
“Malaysia is like my second home. I always play well here. I have luck here and whenever I’m over, I’m so relaxed. I could have won a car (if it was done during the tournament) but I’m not complaining. I rather win the tournament again,” said Que.
“I’ve had good experiences at Kota Permai. I’ve always made the cut here and also qualified for the World Cup at the qualifiers here. The greens are nice, the fairways are beautiful. There are no reasons to not play well. It’s just a matter of putting everything together. You just need a bit of luck.”
Two years ago, Shaaban contended at the Selangor Masters when it was staged on his home course at Seri Selangor Golf Club. The slender Malaysian is ready to throw in his challenge again starting tomorrow but knows he must tame the slick greens at Kota Permai.
“My game feels good now. I’ve got my confidence back. In my last few tournaments, I’ve played a lot of under par rounds. I’m striking the ball good. My putting seems to be working which is going to be important. I heard the green speed was 12 today. If we’re on a slope, or when you putt downhill, it could be as fast as 13 or 14!” said the Malaysian.
“I’ve shot a 67 here in the Malaysian Open (in 2008). I’ve shot a 64 at practice here previously, so it’s okay. I’ve got confidence here. Hopefully I can keep my focus more on my putting.”
A return to Malaysia has brought back good vibes for Henson, who triumphed at the Clearwater Masters in a neighbouring state of Perak on the Asian Development Tour in May before going on to win the ICTSI Philippine Open two weeks later on the Asian Tour.
“I love it in Malaysia. It’s a great golf course this week, a good test. You have think quite a bit around here. I think preparation and course management will play a big role,” said the 32-year-old Californian.
He said that a summer break at home has recharged his batteries and he credited his sports psychologist Dr Jay Brunza for giving him “the balance in my life.” Brunza has worked previously with former world number one Tiger Woods.
“I didn’t think my win would come that early. I think the preparation I put in with my sports psychologist back home has paid off tremendously. I start working with Dr Brunza since high school. He was Tiger’s psychologist and caddied for him at the amateurs and at the Masters. He knows about golf and knows what he’s talking about.”
Lahiri was triumphant at the inaugural Panasonic Open (India) earlier in the season and after taking a well deserved break to rest his injured shoulder, the young Indian is ready to compete for a second Asian Tour title.
“The shoulder is feeling much better. It’ll be a challenging week as we’ve got a good field.My game is feeling good and I’m feeling quite confident. I feel my ball striking is improving after working with my coach in Bangalore. I think I’m moving in the right direction. I just have to be more patient to let the results come,” said Lahiri.