Second time lucky for Kemarol

Wilson Choo, Kemarol Baharin, MGA president Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor, Maybank chief marketing officer Mohammad Adam Wee, Ben Leong & Kenneth De Silva
Wilson Choo, Kemarol Baharin, MGA president Admiral (R) Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor, Maybank chief marketing officer Mohamed Adam Wee, Ben Leong & Kenneth De Silva

Kuala Lumpur: In-form Kemarol Baharin clinched a start at the Maybank Malaysian Open after topping the two-day national qualifiers, which concluded Wednesday at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

Kemarol overcame a poor opening round of two-over par with a solid three-under 69 to top the field with a one-under 143 overall at the challenging West Course. Joining him in the tournament proper are Sabahan Ben Leong, Wilson Choo and Kenneth De Silva, who were four strokes behind in a tie for second.

“This is the second consecutive year I have qualified for the Maybank Malaysian Open and I have set my sights on making the halfway cut this year,” said the winner.

“Last year I didn’t play as well as I would have liked and missed the cut, but the experience was simply amazing and I believe it has made me a better player. “If possible, I want to finish among the top 10 this year. It is a tall order, but not an impossible dream,” add Kemarol, who has a win and a third-placed finish to show from his last two tournaments.

Kenneth, who led the 49 hopefuls after the opening round, carded a poor 74 which nonetheless proved enough for him to hang on for a berth at the national Open.

“I had a poor start today as I was nervous. It is not easy to qualify for such a prestigious tournament and the nerves got the better of me at the start,” said Kenneth. “I’m delighted to have made it through and will start preparations for the tournament.”

Ben, who has just returned from a serious back injury, said: “It has been a long way back and I’m delighted to have sealed my place in the Maybank Malaysian Open. I would like to thank the sponsors for giving us a chance to qualify.”

Wilson said: “This is the first time I have qualified for the Maybank Malaysian Open and I will enjoy myself. It was not easy, but I did it.”

The quartet will join a local line-up that already includes Malaysian number one Nicholas Fung, R. Nachimuthu, Arie Fauzi, Rizal Amin, Airil Rizman, Sukree Othman, Iylia Jamil, Khor Kheng Hwai, Shaifubari Muda, Danny Chia, Shaaban Hussin, Iain Steel, S. Murthy, S. Sivachandhran as well as amateurs Gavin Kyle Green, Ervin Chang and Solomon Emilio Rosidin.

Tournament custodians the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) will announce another player from the national team at a later date to compete the list of 22 Malaysians who will bid to become the first local player to win the prestigious US$2.75 million European and Asian Tours co-sanctioned event.

Maybank’s chief marketing officer Mohamed Adam Wee congratulated the winners and wished them all the best in making the nation proud during the tournament, which tees off on April  17-20.

“The top four kept their cool in the searing heat to deservedly claim their tickets to the Maybank Malaysian Open. A bigger challenge awaits them in April as many of the world’s best golfers from the Asian and European Tours will be eyeing the coveted Seagram trophy,” said Adam.

“I hope all the Malaysian golfers who have already qualified, will stay focused and make the country proud in April,” he added.

MGA president Tan Sri Dato’ Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor lauded the four qualifier, saying: “The quartet have showed over the past two days why they deserve to qualify by playing excellent golf. They must remember they will be carrying the nation’s hopes with them and I wish them the very best.”

Leading final round scores
143 – Kemarol Baharin 74-69
147 – Ben Leong 76-71, Wilson Choo 75-72, Kenneth De Silva 73-74
149 – Tommy Chin 74-75, Mohd Amli Mohiyadeen 73-76
150 -Zen Dharmaratne 75-75
152 – Marcus Low 80-72, Nicholas Pua 79-73, Dino Abdillah 76-76, Akhmal Tarmizie 76-76, Chong Chee Ming 75-77