Shaaban Hussin hopes to play his way back into the CIMB Classic by winning the SapuraKencana National Qualifier which tees off today at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC).
The slender Malaysian featured in the CIMB Classic for three successive years but was denied a fourth appearance when he finished one shot behind Rashid Ismail at last year’s SapuraKencana National Qualifier.
With a prize purse of RM150,000 on offer at the qualifier, Shaaban knows he must be on top of his game to earn a quick return to the CIMB Classic which will be held this October 30-November 2. Sanctioned by the PGA Tour and Asian Tour, the CIMB Classic offers a lucrative purse of US$7 million.
“My goal will be to win the SapuraKencana National Qualifier. Playing in the CIMB Classic was one of the best experiences in my golfing life and I missed being in it last year after losing to Rashid,” said Shaaban.
“Every player wants to have the opportunity to compete against other players from the PGA TOUR and with the event being held in Malaysia, I want to take up the opportunity. I will be trying my best next week.
“When the CIMB Classic came around last year, I was very frustrated sitting at home and not being at the KLGCC. Hopefully it does not happen again this year.”
With a fourth place finish at the PGM Terengganu Championship and a joint sixth outing at the PGM Vascory Templer Park Championship on the Asian Development Tour recently, Shaaban feels his game is in good shape despite not winning a title yet on the domestic circuit this season. A return to the West Course is also giving Shaaban plenty of confidence ahead of the SapuraKencana National Qualifier, which is sanctioned by the PGA of Malaysia.
“I enjoy playing on the West Course which is a tough course. You need to hit it long and straight there to have the chance to score. If you’re wayward off the tee, you’ll have no chance of playing well. You’ll need to execute a good strategy on this course,” he said.
“I’ve been hitting it good recently and I have posted some good results on the Asian Development Tour. Hopefully I will have the game to compete next week.”
Meanwhile, rookie professional Abel Tam is dreaming of a spot at the CIMB Classic through the SapuraKencana National Qualifier but expects competition to be tough.
“It’s going to be a strong field as there is only one spot available for the winner,” said the 22-year-old, who was one of the mainstays of the Malaysian national amateur team before he joined the paid ranks in March.
“I hope things will click for me next week. I enjoyed my best finish on the Asian Development Tour in Terengganu by finishing sixth recently and that’s given me a lot of confidence.
“To win on the West Course, you need to play some very good golf. It’s a tough track and it punishes you when you don’t play well. It’s not been too kind to me when I’ve played there during the Malaysian Open in the past but hopefully it will change.”
The SapuraKencana National Qualifier, returning for its third consecutive year, is sponsored by the world’s leading integrated oil and gas services and solutions provider, SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad which is also the lead partner in the CIMB Classic 2014.
The CIMB Classic will be the fourth event of the 2014/15 FedExCup Season on the PGA TOUR. Offering full FedExCup points, it will feature 78 players – 60 coming from the PGA Tour, 10 from Asian Tour and eight sponsor’s exemption.
Out of the eight sponsor’s exemptions, CIMB Classic accords two spots for Malaysians. The second spot will be accorded to the highest ranked Malaysian golfer on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) as at October 20. If the winner of the SapuraKencana National Qualifier is also the leading Malaysian in the OGWR, the second spot for the CIMB Classic will automatically go to the next best-ranked Malaysian on the OGWR.