Tuesday April 17, 2012
Top golfing stars fail to inspire local pros to excel in Open
By LIM TEIK HUAT
KUALA LUMPUR: The Maybank Malaysian Open reaffirmed its status as one of the top events on the Asian golfing calendar with spectacular action on the fairways and good crowd attendance.
But, sadly, having world class players like Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer and Charl Schwartzel for company did not inspire the locals to rise to the occasion at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Only one Malaysian made the cut for their home Open for the second year running and this does not augur well for the development of local golf.
Shaaban Hussin was the only Malaysian to play all four rounds from the 22-strong local cast, including four amateurs, given the opportunity to compete in the 51st edition of the Open.
Golf is a game where one battles against the course and nature, not against a rival, so it is puzzling why no Malaysian has managed to come out on top in their home tournament all these years.
Most of the top local pros even had the opportunity to practise on the course in the buildup to the Open but failed to convert the birdies where it mattered most.
The Malaysian Open may not be the richest event on the continent but the prize money of US$2.5 million is still huge and the locals are certainly aware that a top 10 finish earns one a very handsome pay cheque.
A player does not even have to go on a birdie binge. If the scores in the just concluded edition are any indication, playing steady golf of two-under per day is more than sufficient for a top 15 finish.
The local pros can learn a thing or two from Oosthuizen’s remarkable three-stroke win.
The 29-year-old South African, winner of the British Open two years ago, defied the psychological blow of being pipped to a second Major by Bubba Watson at the US Masters a week ago and the physical tiredness of a 30-hour journey to win his first title on Asian soil.
There were no complaints about being tired or the crowd or the course, unlike some of the whinging by the local pros.
And not to forget the frustrating weather delays on Friday and Saturday, which left Oosthuizen with 26 holes to play on the final day.
Scotsman Stephen Gallacher, who claimed the runners-up spot, was impressed with how Oosthuizen handled himself en route to finishing 17-under.
“It was a phenomenal performance by Oosthuizen after the previous week at Augusta. I thought he may get tired and obviously he didn’t. Fair play to him, he played great,” said Gallacher.
The Malaysian Open looks to have won Oosthuizen over and he is keen to return to defend the title.
“My schedule is worldwide and I play all over the place. I enjoy coming to Asia and it is nice to play in the heat. If this week is the same week next year, then I would be happy to make a stop here before taking some time off after Augusta. That would be fine by me,” said Oosthuizen, who had his family with him in Kuala Lumpur.
The Malaysian Open next year will likely attract the world’s best again. And it’s also likely to see the locals faltering by the wayside — again.