Sharp Shaaban shares first round lead at Clearwater

Batu Gajah, Perak; June 20: Shaaban Hussin (pic) overcame fatigue and jetlag en route to a shared first round lead at the RM150,000 Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Clearwater Classic today.

The 31-year-old carded a superb six-under-par 66 to match Mohd Rashid Ismail’s bogey-free effort at the Tim Woolbank-designed Clearwater Sanctuary Golf Resort.

Akhmal Tarmizee Mohd Nazari laid third with a flawless round of 67 while Danny Chia was placed fourth on three-under-par 69. Hanafiah Jamil and Anis Helmi Hassan were among four players bunched up in tied fifth place on 70.

PGM Terengganu Classic winner Shaaban was on top of his game despite just arriving from holiday isle of Samui yesterday evening, after completing his campaign in the Asian Tour’s Queen’s Cup.

After a gruelling four rounds at the challenging Santiburi Samui course, Shaaban was visibly relaxed and less tense in the green surroundings of the resort course.

“I just played my normal game and the course’s good condition definitely helped. Familiarity also aided in club selection, as we just played here a month ago in the Professional Golf Association of Malaysia (PGAM)-organised Clearwater Classic,” explained Shaaban, who only managed a few practice shots at the driving range in the driving range before teeing off this morning.

“The course was much open compared to (Samui) over the weekend and there wasn’t much wind interfering in play either. Overall, I had easy opening round,” added Shaaban, who mixed seven birdies against a sole bogey on the par-four 14th.

While admitting that fatigue will come into play over the course of tournament, Shaaban is taking in his stride. “Obviously, the mind is saying it’s tired but this is my job. As a professional golfer, you just have to suck in it and get on with the job. Hopefully, another few good rounds and God willing, I will be within a shout for the title on Thurday,” he concluded.

Rashid, who was first on the tee this morning, credited a new putting drill for his clean scorecard. “The weather has been good and with the greens rolling well, I had a great time putting today. I’ve been trying out a new putting drill ahead of the tournament and seemed to worked perfectly. I just want to keep the momentum going,” explained Rashid, who is still looking for a victory on the circuit.

A total of 84 players, including two amateurs – Ng Choo Teck and Damian Chin are in the field for the ninth leg of the burgeoning PGM Tour.

Leading first round scores
66 – Shaaban Hussin, Md Rashid Ismail
67 – Akhmal Tarmizee Mohd Nazari
69 – Danny Chia
70 – Redzuan Kamaruddin, Hanafiah Jamil, Shaifubari Muda, Anis Helmi Hassan
71 – V. Jeganathan, Ali Reza Khairuddin, Haziq Hamizan, Wilson Choo, Nicholas Pua

Click to download full scores (in pdf)