KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Rashid Ismail battled through an injury to win the RM150,000 SapuraKencana National Qualifier on Wednesday, which earned him a maiden appearance at the lucrative CIMB Classic in October.
Rashid posted a two-under 70 to edge Shaaban Hussin by one shot with a two-under 214 total at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. Shaaban, who was chasing for a fourth appearance at the CIMB Classic, posted a final round 71.
Highly rated Rizal Amin carded a 70 to finish third on 218, four shots from the winner, while overnight leader Iain Steel was a further shot back following a disappointing 76.
The second local spot at the CIMB Classic will go to the highest ranked Malaysian on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) on October 6. Nicholas Fung, who settled for tied ninth, is currently ranked 509th in the world followed by Steel in 521st position.
Rashid’s season has been curtailed by a swollen tendon below his right hip and he was surprised to win the qualifier with an improvised swing which minimised the pain.
“This was unexpected. I tried to play and enjoy the tournament. I had to make changes to my swing because of the injury and I was lucky to play well. I had good luck since the start of the week and I had a good feeling that I would win today,” said the 40-year-old Rashid.
“I just concentrated on my game. I played very simple golf and I’m lucky that I won it,” added the Malaysian, who won RM22,000.
Rashid, who won two local titles in 2011, hopes to recover from the injury before the $7 million CIMB Classic, which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA TOUR from Oct. 24-27.
“I’m worried that I won’t recover from this injury. I’ll be going for a lot of physiotherapy. I want to play in the CIMB Classic so I want to keep myself healthy. To be honest, I wanted to rest this season and try to recover from the injury. Hopefully I can recover before October,” he explained.
Shaaban birdied the last hole for a 71 but it was not enough to pip Rashid to the title when the latter hit a sublime bunker shot to set-up an easy tap-in par for victory on the 18th hole.
“I’m not really disappointed because Rashid played well. I had my chance to play in three CIMB Classics so I’m happy someone else gets this opportunity,” said Shaaban.
The lanky Shaaban reckons he still has a fighting chance to qualify for the CIMB Classic through the OWGR if he wins the next two Asian Development Tour (ADT) events in Sabah and Sarawak. All ADT events afford valuable world ranking points.
“To be honest, we have two more ADT events before the OWGR cut-off date so I still have a 10% chance of qualifying. I need to win those two events. It won’t be easy but I will try,” said Shaaban, who is ranked 851st in the world.
Tan Sri Dato' Seri Shahril Shamsuddin, President and Group Chief Executive Officer, SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad, was delighted with the success of the SapuraKencana National Qualifier.
“SapuraKencana’s success as one of the world's largest integrated oil and gas services and solutions provider is the result of commitment, dedication and passion, the same principles which were demonstrated by all the players during the qualifier, and the same principles that will be required to ensure the continuous growth of the players in the country," said Shahril.
"As one of the main sponsors and premier partner for this event for four years running, and as we see the tournament growing in scale, we are encouraged by the players’ participation and proud to have played a key role towards facilitating the player’s ability to get together, build their capabilities and accumulate experience towards their journey of becoming internationally recognised," he added.
The CIMB Classic will be played from Oct. 24-27 and will offer FedExCup points for the first time since its inauguration in 2010.
Leading third and final round scores:
214 - RASHID ISMAIL 73-71-70
215 – SHAABAN HUSSIN 74-70-71
218 - MOHD RIZAL AMIN 75-73-70
219 - IAIN STEEL 75-68-76
220 - R. NACHIMUTHU 73-72-75
221 - LIM ENG SENG 74-71-76
222 - IYLIA JAMIL 77-74-71, AIRIL RIZMAN 77-74-71
223 - M. SASIDARAN 75-77-71, AZMAN BASHARUDIN 78-72-73, NICHOLAS FUNG 74-72-77