Sungai Petani: Seven years after claiming his last professional victory at the Sime Darby Masters, Shaifubari Muda has his eyes firmly set on lifting the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Sime Darby Harvard Classic.
The 39-year-old seasoned professional notched a stunning round of six-under 66 to lead overnight joint leader Mohd Amli Mohiyadeen by two strokes at the halfway point of the RM125,000 season-opener at Harvard Golf & Country Club.
Shaifubari drained a personal best of nine birdies against bogeys on the second, fourth and 17th, en route to a two-day total of ten-under 134 to raise his hopes of a maiden title on the burgeoning domestic circuit.
Surprise package Amli continued his youthful surge with a three-under 69, mixing five birdies and three birdies to stay one stroke ahead of veteran S. Murthy, who also managed a 69. A round of 70 saw Danny Chia lead a quintet of players on five-under 139, including first round leader Wilson Choo.
The trio of Airil Rizman Zahari, S. Sivachandhran and Solhairy Sharif are a further two shots off the pace as defending champion R. Nachimuthu improved to two-under for the tournament with a 70 today.
Shaifubari, who arrived in Sungai Petani on a high after his tied-sixth finish at the Kinrara Masters in December – his best performance all year, was pleasantly pleased with the way he was playing this week.
“You have that ups-and-downs in your career and I guess I have been really struggling over the last three to four years. I’ve just put in the hours and waited patiently for the rewards to follow. Finishing well in Kinrara really helped with my confidence and I just strengthen my resolution in the new year to haul myself back into winning ways,” said the Saujana touring professional.
“My short game has really worked for me at this tournament and to be honest, after twice winning the Sime Darby Masters in 2002 and 2005, I pretty much felt in the zone when I saw the Sime Darby banners and boards around the golf club,” he added.
When asked if he felt the pressure building, Shaifubari admitted that it was all part of the game. “I know that many people out there are hoping that I would stride to victory here – my wife, children, friends and fellow professionals included have all told me that I can do it. The PGM Tour has been a second chance for me. It’s really now about sticking to what I’ve been working on, not to get overawed by the occasion and try not to change things that are working. I think I can handle the pressure.”
An excited Amli nonetheless acknowledges that there’s much more work to do if he is to maintain his great start at the tournament. “I think I’m playing alright and if I can just maintain the pace and not get big ideas. I’m still getting to terms with my own performance this week,” said the former national junior amateur.
Fourty-five players made the halfway cut, which came at seven-over 151, with all four amateurs failing to make it into the final two rounds.
Leading second round scores
134 – Shaifubari Muda 68-66
136 – Mohd Amli Mohd Mohayideen 67-69
137 – S. Murthy 68-69
139 – Danny Chia 69-70, Nicholas Pua 70-69, Wilson Choo 67-72, Haziq Hamizan 70-69, P. Gunasegaran 71-68
141 – Airil Rizman Zahari 71-70, S. Sivachandhran 74-67, Solhairy Sharif 70-71
142 – R. Nachimuthu 72-70, M. Adam Shafiq 70-72
143 – Khor Kheng Hwai 68-75, Azman Basharuddin 71-72, Shaaban Hussin 71-72, Md Rashid Ismail 70-73
144 – Lam Yu Shuen 73-71, Zurie Harun 72-72, Anis Helmi Hassan 69-75