Shaaban the best bet for weekend action

Shaaban Hussin speaks to the media after the first round yesteday

Kuala Lumpur: Shaaban Hussin remains the sole Malaysian likely to survive the halfway mark at the Maybank Malaysian Open this year after the 22-strong local challenge fizzled out.

The 31-year-old Maybank ambassador battled his way up the leaderboard, going to four-under for the championship through nine holes before play was called off by officials. He will resume his second round tomorrow at 7.45am on the 10th fairway of the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

With the projected cut coming at one-over 145, only Shaaban and Ben Leong (+2 through 8 holes) are in the running to make the weekend rounds. Danny Chia fought tooth-and-nail but could only muster a second consecutive 73 for a two-over-par 146 total alongside promising amateur Low Khai Jei.

Shaaban admitted that he needs to find his momentum early on tomorrow morning if he is to carry the Malaysian challenge into the final rounds. “I felt like I was on a momentum and if the round did not stop, I would have gone lower. My rhythm and tempo was good. I need to come early and practise and try to get back into the groove,” said Shaaban, who is five shots back from the clubhouse leaders Hennie Otto and JBE Kruger.

“If I don’t keep focus, I will be in trouble. After looking at the scores, I think I have a good chance of closing the gap. There’s a chance but I will not be aggressive. I think the goal is to stay calm and score whenever I can,” said the slender Malaysian.

He was disappointed to miss two five-foot par putts on holes two and six. “It was disappointing or I would have been closer to the leaders but I’m happy with my fighting spirit,” said Shaaban, who was the lone Malaysian in red numbers during the second round.

Chia was lost for words after his dismal performance at the 51st edition of the national Open. “I fought hard but it’s quite a disappointing result. My approach shots was way off. My partnership with my caddie wasn’t good as well. A lot of times, we couldn’t figure out the breaks. Looking forward to the next event already,” said Chia, the first Malaysian to win on the Asian Tour.

“I felt a bit unlucky on a few occasions. I don’t think there’s much I could learn from the last two days. I just misjudged my second shots, misjudged the wind a few times and did not make enough putts,” he lamented.