Shaaban fights to stay in Iskandar Open

Local hope Shaaban Hussin is playing at the Iskandar Johor Open against doctor’s advice as a solid result this week will earn him an Asian Tour card for next season.

Shaaban Hussin, Golf

Shaaban injured his shoulder in October and will play through the pain barrier at the US$2 million Asian Tour season-ending event which features Major winner Ernie Els of South Africa, Sergio Garcia of Spain and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand.

Shaaban insists he will not be distracted by the starry line-up assembled at the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club as he is focussed at the important task of securing full playing rights on the 2013 Asian Tour season for the second time since 2010.

He is currently in 79th position on the Order of Merit with earnings of US$30,755 courtesy of a tied 13th result at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic in April. The Malaysian needs at least a top-15 finish this week to reach his goal as the top-60 players on the Order of Merit earn playing rights next season.

"This is an important week for me. I had full playing rights previously and that was wonderful. I hope I can reprise those memories and do well here. If I can get inside the top-60, it will be great for my career because I will qualify for all the big Asian Tour events," he said.

"I went to see the doctor this week and he asked me to rest but I told him I can't. That's how important it is for me. I injured my shoulder in India (Hero Indian Open) and it hasn't recovered since then. I know I should really think about resting but there's just too much on the line.

"My shoulder still hurts at impact so it is still okay. My back swing is fine so I'm quite happy about that. I still feel the pain so I'll just need to bear with it until this week," added Shaaban.

Chiragh Kumar of India, who has one top-10 finish at the Hero Indian Open in October, hopes to overcome the pressure-packed situation by keeping things simple as he needs to move nine ranks up the Order of Merit.

"Yeah, I have to play well to keep my Asian Tour card. I'm going to go out there and play my game. I can't give myself extra pressure to perform well and keep my card. If I play well then I deserve to keep it. Otherwise, I'll try again next year," said the 28-year-old.

"Early on in the year when I wasn't playing too well, I was putting a bit of pressure on myself to keep my card. I tried pushing myself to play well in the big events and that kind of got to me. I had some injuries early in the year which I couldn't get fit enough to play. I feel a little better now and playing better," said Kumar.

At the top of the Order of Merit, current leader Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand aims to fend off the challenges for Marcus Fraser of Australia, currently second on the Order of Merit, Jbe Kruger of South Africa, Indian star Gaganjeet Bhullar, Masanori Kobayashi of Japan and Thailand's Prom Meesawat, who all have a mathematical chance to become Asia's number one.

Meanwhile, highly rated Malaysian amateur Gavin Kyle Green will enjoy a dream pairing with Els and Garcia in the opening two rounds of the Iskandar Johor Open.

The 18-year-old, who is playing on a sponsor's invitation, is one of the most talked-about amateurs in Malaysia, having won countless titles in the country and became the first local in 15 years to win the Malaysian Amateur Open. He also qualified for the US Amateur Open in August.

Green, who is studying at the University of New Mexico, where he is a member of the college team said, "I'm feeling excited. This is the biggest moment in my career. I'm not feeling nervous yet but it might be different when the time comes. I'll just need to concentrate on my own game."

The Iskandar Johor Open is presented by Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd, which is a government-linked company specifically incorporated to take on the role of master developer of prime waterfront properties in Johor Bahru.



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