Shaaban banks on Kota Permai boost

Shaaban Hussin in action last year © ArepKulal/Asian Tour

Shah Alam: Shaaban Hussin hopes to boost his rankings on the Asian Tour Order of Merit with a strong showing at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters next Wednesday.

Shaaban, who is currently in 69th place on the Merit list, plans to put his local knowledge of the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club to effective use in his plan to break into the top-60 of the rankings, which is required at the end of the season to earn a full Asian Tour card for 2013.

As he has competed at the award-winning golfing layout on numerous occasions, Shaaban knows the RM1.2 million (approximately US$395,000) Asian Tour event from September 5 to 8 will be the ideal platform to fulfil his ambitions. “I know the course very well and can plan my shots but the greens are tricky and fast, so that will be a big challenge for the players,” said Shaaban.

“The are many big tournaments after the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters and I think I have a strong chance of earning my Asian Tour card. I’m quite confident of achieving this dream,” he added.

Shaaban has enjoyed a solid season on the Asian Tour so far. He led going into the last round at the weather-shortened ISPS Handa Singapore Classic before finishing in tied 13th place. “Every year that I play on the Asian Tour, I gain a new experience. Last year I played with Lee Westwood in Indonesia and this year I was in the final group in Singapore. These experiences have really helped in my career,” said the former national amateur number one.

“The exposure you get from playing on the Asian Tour is different compared to playing on the local circuit. There is more pressure and you can’t afford to play badly even on one hole as there are many talented players who can cut or overtake your lead,” said Shaaban.

As an amateur, Shaaban represented the country at the Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games but his ultimate goal is to fly the country’s flag at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He knows that he must start playing in more tournaments on the Asian Tour and also Asian Development Tour, which the latter will be afforded with Official World Golf Ranking status in 2013.

The lanky Malaysian said the two Tours will be the key routes for Asian golfers to play their way into the Olympics, where golf makes a return to the programme after a lapse of nearly 100 years.

“Who doesn’t want to play in the Olympics? Every golfer wants to play in it. I’ve represented my country as an amateur and this is the only opportunity to play in the Olympics and fly the Malaysian flag. It will be an honour for me to put Malaysia on the golfing map,” said Shaaban.

Local star Danny Chia, Sukree Othman, Kenneth De Silva and S. Sivachandhran will also feature in the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters which will be beamed live to a global audience in the last two rounds. Finland’s Joonas Granberg will be defending his title next week.