Rashid Ismail became the match-winning Malaysian hero in a thrilling denouement to the second edition of the Prudential Causeway Trophy. Forced to sit out the opening-day foursomes due to a jarred back, Rashid had the distinction of securing the half-point that gave the visitors a 12½ – 11½ victory in the Ryder Cup-style team match play event at Laguna National Golf and Country Club.
In the last of the 12 singles matches out on the course, Choo Tze Huang needed to defeat Rashid to tie the overall score, in which case Singapore would have retained the Trophy by dint of being the defending champions. But Rashid, who went ahead for the first time at the 12th, completed a fairytale comeback with a stunning birdie at the par-four 16th where he struck a majestic nine-iron approach from 117 metres to within a yard of the cup.
As his ball disappeared below ground for a birdie to guarantee Malaysia victory, Rashid was mobbed by his jubilant team-mates. Dato Husni Zai Yaacob, Malaysia’s High Commissioner in Singapore, applauded from the gallery.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said 41-year-old Rashid, whose match with Choo will be entered into the record books as a half. Two-up after 16 and with team success assured, Rashid conceded the final two holes, meaning the singles were squared 6-6.
Rashid, who lost his fourball match on Saturday, said: “I have a swollen tendon (in lower back) which is very painful, especially hitting iron shots.
“I had physio and treatment to help me play in the fourball, but I was worried I wouldn’t make it for the singles. This morning I took a pain killer and I managed to get through, even though I think I was only able to swing at about 60 per cent.
“This is certainly a highlight in my career. I’m very proud to win the Causeway Trophy for our country.”
Ahead 6½ – 5½ at the start of the singles, Malaysian non-playing captain CM Chong watched his team endure a roller-coaster ride on what proved to be a thrillingly unpredictable day of wildly fluctuating fortunes.
Malaysia stormed out of the blocks and appeared set for an overwhelming victory with blue numbers dominating the leaderboards. But Singapore’s middle order fought back courageously to ensure the outcome remained in doubt right to the last.
“I’m almost speechless,” said Malaysian captain Chong. “After last year’s defeat, we were determined to win. It was a real ding-dong match and a memorable week.”
Mohd Said bin Abdul Latif, Singapore’s non-playing captain, was magnanimous in defeat. “I congratulate my team for the way they battled and I also congratulate the Malaysians. They were a strong team and much better prepared than last year.”
The tone for a topsy-turvy final day was set in the opening match with S. Sivachandhran sprinting into a three-up lead through three holes against Singapore veteran Madasamy Murugiah and coasting to a 6&5 triumph.
Behind him, in-form Malaysians Nicholas Fung and Danny Chia easily outgunned Singapore’s top two players Mardan Mamat and Lam Chih Bing. Mardan lost each of the opening three holes to Fung. It was too much ground to make up and he eventually succumbed 3&2 to Fung, the only Malaysian to post three wins out of three games during the week.
It was a similar story for Lam Chih Bing who went from all-square after two to four-down through seven holes. With Chia playing steadily, there was no way back for the Singaporean.
Further bad news for the home team came when Goh Kun Yang was comprehensively thrashed by Iain Steel, 7&6.
Among the early carnage, the shining lights for Singapore were Quincy Quek and Marc Kawasoe. Having combined to win both their foursomes and fourball matches earlier in the week, the duo were responsible for keeping alive Singapore hopes with impressive singles successes.
In the second match out against Kemarol Baharin, Quek recovered well after losing the first hole. All square at the turn, Quek ramped up the pressure at the start of the back nine, winning the 10th, 11th and 13th with pars and the long 12th with an eagle to set up a 4&3 win.
Kawasoe was also in inspired form in a 4&3 trouncing of Hans Jamil, while Lam Zhi Qun, Chang Ren Chiat and Koh Dengshan all contributed to the Singapore cause.
With Sukree Othman getting the better of Poh Eng Wah it looked as if Shaaban Hussin would deliver the winning point for Malaysia. But Singapore left-hander Justin Han denied him in dramatic fashion, snaring a downhill 30-footer on the undulating 18th green to secure a hard-earned half. That meant it all came down to Choo and Rashid in the last match.
PRUDENTIAL CAUSEWAY TROPHY, SINGLES RESULTS (Sunday, June 22)
Madasamy Murugiah (Singapore) lost to S. Sivachandhran (Malaysia) 6&5
Quincy Quek (Singapore) beat Kemarol Baharin (Malaysia) 4&3
Mardan Mamat (Singapore) lost to Nicholas Fung (Malaysia) 3&2
Lam Chih Bing (Singapore) lost to Danny Chia (Malaysia) 5&3
Lam Zhi Qun (Singapore) beat Khor Kheng Hwai (Malaysia) 2&1
Poh Eng Wah (Singapore) lost to Sukree Othman (Malaysia) 3&2
Justin Han (Singapore) halved with Shaaban Hussin (Malaysia)
Goh Kun Yang (Singapore) lost to Iain Steel (Malaysia) 7&6
Chang Ren Chiat (Singapore) beat Iylia Jamil (Malaysia) 3&2
Koh Dengshan (Singapore) beat Kenneth de Silva (Malaysia) 3&2
Marc Kawasoe (Singapore) beat Hans Jamil (Malaysia) 4&3
Choo Tze Huang (Singapore) halved with Rashid Ismail (Malaysia)
Score: Singapore 6 Malaysia 6
Overall Score: Singapore 11½ Malaysia 12½