Singapore move clear in Asian Qualifier as locals stutter

Mardan Mamat & Lam Chih Bing / © Khalid Redza (Asian Tour)

Petaling Jaya: Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat of Singapore recovered from their early blemishes with a one-under-par 70 to take the second round lead at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup Asian Qualifier.

The duo bogeyed three of their opening four holes but bounced back superbly in the foursomes format to open up a three-shot lead over Indians Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri at the Seri Selangor Golf Club.

Bhullar and Lahiri, teaming up for the first time, battled to a solid 69 for a 136 total to lie in second place while Kim Hyung-sung and Park Sung-joon of Korea are three shots back in third.

The top three teams of the Asian Qualifying will earn elusive tickets to the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China in November.

Unheralded Anura Rohana and Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka posted a second consecutive 70 to lie in tied fourth with New Zealand’s Michael Hendry and Gareth Paddison on a 140 total.

The home team of Iain Steel and Shaaban Hussin returned with a 77 in tough scoring conditions and will have an uphill task of narrowing the eight-shot gap on Singapore.

Lam and Mardan, aiming to qualify for the biennial Omega Mission Hills World Cup for the fifth time, bogeyed holes one, two and four before recovering with two straight birdies from the fifth hole.They steadied ship in the homeward nine where they had three birdies on holes 10, 12 and 14 against one bogey on 11 to return with a two-day total of nine-under-par 133.

“We were a bit messy in the first few holes but overall it was okay. We have to keep doing what we have been doing. We are playing very well and our mission is to get the job done,” said Mardan, a two-time Asian Tour winner.

Lam was delighted to extend their lead in a round where only four teams returned with an under-par score.“We knew this format wasn’t easy and we told each other we could get more birdies out there. I told Mardan not to worry (after the early bogeys) and that we will bounce back from our score. We are very happy to finish in red,” said Lam, who qualified for the World Cup with Mardan at Seri Selangor in 2006 and 2009.

Lahiri and Bhullar endured a mixed round of six birdies against one double bogey and two bogeys.”You always walk away from a round thinking you could do better and today was one of those rounds. Both of us deserved to play a better round. We made a lot of ground and we knew this was going to be a tougher format,” said Lahiri, who won his maiden Asian Tour title on home soil earlier this year.

Bhullar, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, said they were confident of going low in the third round fourball format.“We made a couple of mistakes yesterday but after playing 36 holes, we are quite comfortable with each other and our yardages. We can go really low in the fourball format,” said Bhullar.

Shaaban Hussin & Iain Steel / © Khalid Redza / Asian Tour

Few things were working right for the Malaysian combo today at the challenging par-71 with Steel and Shaaban struggling in the alternate play format, managing only three birdies against eight bogeys and an unfortunate double bogey on the tough finishing hole.

“We have to look ahead. Tomorrow is a new 18 holes. I’m looking forward to that. The better ball is always more enjoyable. It’s the nature of the beast. We played well yesterday and hopefully we can play well again tomorrow. We got nothing to lose and will be aiming to be aggressive. We have to try and give ourselves a good position for the last day and hopefully some cushion. We got to make some birdies and make up for some ground that we lost today.”

Shaaban was equally disappointed but was eager to make amends with a good round tomorrow. “It was quite a disappointing round but we are confident of making a charge up the leader board tomorrow. We did very well in the opening round and there’s no reason why we can’t do that again. This is golf you have your ups and downs. Hopefully we can card a good score and give ourselves a chance on the final day. Our main goal is to finish in the top three,” said the 31-year-old

A total of 16 teams are vying for the three tickets to the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in Haikou, China from November 24 to 27.

Second round scores
133 – Singapore (Lam Chih-Bing, Mardan Mamat) 63-70
136 – India (Gaganjeet Bhullar, Anirban Lahiri) 67-69
139 – Korea (Kim Hyung-Sung, Park Sung-Joon) 70-69
140 – Sri Lanka (Anura Rohana, Mithun Perera) 70-70, New Zealand (Michael Hendry, Gareth Paddison) 65-75
141 – Malaysia (Iain Steel, Shaaban Hussin) 64-77
143 – Philippines (Mars Pucay, Antonio Lascuna) 70-73
144 – Pakistan (Muhammad Munir, Mohd Shabbir Iqbal) 68-76
147 – Chinese Taipei (Tseng  Hua Yen, Lin Kuan Po) 68-79
148 – Indonesia (Burhan Bora, Hardjito) 73-75
150 – Myanmar (Zaw Moe, Nay Bala Win Myint) 66-84
151 – Hong Kong (Wong Woon-Man, William Fung) 73-78
153 – Ghana (Stephen Kwame Klah, Godwin Sai) 77-76
154 – Vietnam (Michael Tran, Nguyen Thai Duong) 76-78
157 – Senegal (Gueye Diadji, Niang Samba) 74-83
161 – Brunei (Pengiran Hassanal, Moksin Jinaidi) 78-83