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Singapore & Taipei qualify for World Cup

Singapore and Chinese Taipei earned their tickets to the Algarve World Cup after surviving a nerve-wracking finish in the Qualifier at Kota Permai Golf and Country Club on Sunday.

Singapore's Mardan Mamat and Lam Chih Bing, who had led the first three rounds, combined for a one-under-par 71 in the foursomes to finish joint winners with Wang Ter-chang and Chang Tse-peng of Chinese Taipei, who closed with an impressive 68 for a 19-under-par 269 total in the 12-nation Qualifier.

There was heartbreak for Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant and Prayad Marksaeng, the week's favourites, and the Malaysian pairing of Danny Chia and Iain Steel as they missed the boat to Portugal after finishing one and three shots respectively behind the joint top finishers.

Thailand made a brave bid with an outstanding 67 in the alternate shot format while Malaysia, who started the day in second place, stumbled down the stretch for a 73, dropping three bogeys over their closing six holes.

For Mamat, it was mission accomplished as he put up a courageous display with partner Lam as he has been fasting this week due to the month of Ramadan. "We came here with the aim of finishing in the top two and we've done it. Lam played great all week, I had a great partner."

They got off to a blazing start when Lam holed out from 120 yards with a sand wedge for an eagle two on the par four second hole. Further birdies on the fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth holes against a dropped shot on eight saw them turn in 31 and with what looked like a comfortable five-shot lead.

But the Singaporeans stuttered down the back nine with bogeys on the 10th and 17th holes and a double bogey on 12 before finally sealing their place with a composed par at the closing par five.

"We had several near heart attacks out there," said a relieved Lam, who will be making his second appearance in the World Cup with Mamat after qualifying together in 2002. "We were cruising and all of the sudden, we made some costly mistakes. I reminded Mardan that when we qualified three years ago, we also had a hiccup on the final day and just told him to hang on. He hit some solid shots in the closing stages."

Mamat, who played in the British Open in July, said Lam's stunning eagle proved to be crucial in the end. "It was the shot of the week. The pin wasn't an easy one to get to but Lam hit an unbelievable approach that spun back into the hole."

Chang, who will make his second World Cup appearance, said he was jittery coming down the last few holes.

"When we got to the 17th, we knew we were one ahead of Malaysia and Thailand was close. Then Wang hits this great five iron to five feet for a birdie chance but I was so nervous standing over the putt that I had to back off three times. That birdie gave us a cushion coming into the last hole," said Chang.

Wang said: "It's nice to qualify for my second successive World Cup (and career third). Our combination worked out perfectly this week."

Thailand's Prayad and Thaworn, the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader, came out with guns blazing with an outward 32 but their effort proved futile in the end. "We played so well together. We missed some putts on the back nine and our only bogey on 10 was unlucky as Prayad's drive clipped a tree," said Thaworn.

Home side Malaysia was poised to earn one of the two World Cup tickets available by going to two-under for the round through 11 holes but bogeys on the 13th and 14th holes after missing short par putts and another dropped shot at the last when Chia drove into the watery grave saw their hopes dip dramatically.

"It was always a struggle and we never really had it in play with poor drives and approach shots. It was the wrong time for us to not play well. I hit a weak drive on 13 for bogey and then we missed the green on 14 and that kind of stopped any momentum that we had, not that we had any great momentum going," said Steel.

The home side knew they needed to eagle the par five 18th to force a play-off but Chia found the water hazard with an errant drive. "It was one of those days when everything went sideways," said a disappointed Chia. "We had a chance to birdie 17 but I missed about a 20 footer. Then on 18, I blocked my tee shot into the water and that was it."

The Algarve World Cup in Portugal will be held at Victoria Clube de Golfe Vilamoura from November 17-20.

FINAL RESULTS

269: Singapore (Mardan Mamat, Lam Chih Bing) 64-70-64-71, Chinese Taipei (Wang Ter-chang, Chang Tse-peng) 67-69-65-68

(Singapore and Chinese Taipei qualify for the Algarve World Cup in Portugal)

270: Thailand (Thaworn Wiratchant, Prayad Marksaeng) 69-68-66-67

272: Malaysia (Iain Steel, Danny Chia) 66-69-64-73

273: Philippines (Angelo Que, Gerald Rosales) 66-70-67-70

276: Finland (Janne Mommo, Ari Savolainen) 65-74-64-73

281: Pakistan (Muhammad Munir, Muhammad Shabbir) 70-70-68-73

289: Myanmar (Kyi Hla Han, Zaw Moe) 67-73-66-83
292:
Hong Kong (Derek Fung, Dominique Boulet) 71-75-68-78

293:  Fiji (Krishna Singh, Mira Singh) 73-77-69-74

295: Slovenia (Daniel Kraljic, Damjan Murgelj) 70-76-73-76

301: Mauritius (Billiy Narraina, Vishnoo Seeneevassen) 76-72-73-80

Note: First and third rounds – fourball better ball format, second and final rounds – foursomes (alternate shot) format

 

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