SINGAPORE - Singapore trail Malaysia by a mere point after the second day of the Prudential Causeway Trophy.
And with 12 singles matches to go, one would think the hosts need not press the panic button.
But Singapore should be worried.
For based on the strength and form of the Malaysian players, and the fact that luck seems to be favouring them, resulting in the sinking of long eagle putts and improbable approaches, the task is huge.
On Friday, Malaysia's Shaaban Hussin chipped in for eagle on the last hole for victory, and yesterday, Iain Steel snared a decisive monster eagle-putt from 50 feet again on the final hole.
That left Malaysia with a 6½-5½-lead in the Ryder Cup-style showdown at Laguna National's World Classic course.
Contrast the scoreline at this stage last year when the hosts held a 8½-4½ lead that eventually turned into a 15½-8½ final triumph.
Faced with the enormity of the Malaysian challenge, the Singapore Professional Golfers' Association (SPGA) have tossed an incentive for the hosts by way of a $22,000 carrot, if they win.
The SPGA have offered $12,000 and convinced benefactor David Lam - boss of Goodpack Ltd - to put up $10,000, with the total to be shared by the 14-member team if Singapore retain the trophy.
It is a tall order.
For aside from Quincy Quek, Choo Tze Huang, Lam Zhiqun, Lam Chih Bing and Chang Ren Chiat, the other Singaporeans have not lifted their game on the treacherous world-renowned course.
The usually reliable Mardan Mamat and Koh Dengshan have yet to contribute anything. And in singles players M Murugiah and Poh Eng Wah, the hosts have two 50-somethings who will not enjoy the walk at the undulating Classic course.
Singapore will need a Herculean effort from Marc Kawasoe, Goh Kun Yang and Justin Han to subdue their Malaysian opposition. That leaves the Republic with a mountain to climb today.
The Classic course, which has tamed many big regional names, is also one that demands luck for errant shots, which can easily inflate scores.
Judging by the two days' play, that element of luck seems to be with the Malaysians.
After sinking the monster putt yesterday, Steel said: "You don't expect to make putts like that. I guess it was mainly down to luck."
That magical putt saw Koh and Mardan bow out to Steel and the popular Danny Chia 1-down when only moments earlier, it seemed that the teams would go into the final day all square at 6-6.
Chong Chee Ming, Malaysia's non-playing captain, said: "It was a tough, hot day and my team hung in there. We expected a close match and that's the way it's playing out. It's going to be a thrilling finish."
Yesterday's Fourball results (Singaporeans first):
Lam Chih Bing/Lam Zhi Qun bt Rashid Ismail/Hans Jamil 1-up.
M. Murugiah/Goh Kun Yang lost to Nicholas Fung/Khor Kheng Hwai 4&2.
Koh Dengshan/Mardan Mamat lost to Danny Chia/Iain Steel 1-down.
Quincy Quek/Marc Kawasoe bt Sukree Othman/Shaaban Hussin 2&1.
Choo Tze Huang/Chang Ren Chiat bt Iylia Jamal/Kenneth de Silva 3&2.
Poh Eng Wah/Justin Han lost to S. Sivachandhran/Kemarol Baharin 4&3.
Today's singles draw:
7.30am: M Murugiah v S Sivachandhran.
7.40am: Quincy Quek v Kemarol Baharin.
7.50am: Mardan Mamat v Nicholas Fung.
8.00am: Lam Chih Bing v Danny Chia.
8.10am: Lam Zhi Qun v Khor Kheng Hwai.
8.20am: Poh Eng Wah v Sukree Othman.
8.30am: Justin Han v Shaaban Hussin.
8.40am: Goh Kun Yang v Iain Steel.
8.50am: Chang Ren Chiat v Iylia Jamil.
9.00am: Koh Dengshan v Kenneth de Silva.
9.10am: Marc Kawasoe v Hans Jamil.
9.20am: Choo Tze Huang v Rashid Ismail.
This article was first published on June 22 , 2014.
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