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Veteran P. Gunasegaran believes he still has the game to roll out the right four numbers and challenge for the US$2 million Maybank Malaysian Open next week.
The 47-year-old came closest to being the first Malaysian to win the national championship all those years ago in 1994 when he lost in an epic eight-hole play-off to Sweden’s Joakim Haeggmann.
He will be amongst a strong Malaysian contingent who will feature at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club from March 4-7 in the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
“If I feel I can’t win anymore, I wouldn’t be practicing or would not have competed in the Asian Tour Qualifying School last month (which he earned his Tour card with a top-40 finish),” said Gunasegaran, known better as Guna amongst his peers.
There appears to be a lot of fire left in his belly. Apart from earning his Asian Tour card through the gruelling Q-school, Guna, a former Malaysian number one, qualified for the Open by finishing in the top-five in the local qualifiers.
He reckons his game has improved through a fitness regime which includes running three kilometres a day and lifting weights. The effort has given him extra distance off the tee which he acknowledges is vital in today’s modern era where bombers dominate the game.
“I feel my game is better now as I’m driving it 10 to 15 yards longer. I’ve changed my swing a little bit to get the distance and accuracy and I’m getting fitter. The game now is totally different where the young players are so fit and hit the ball a long way.
“I love this game and this is the only thing that I can do,” he said.
He still remembers every shot on that fateful day at Royal Selangor Golf Club where he had one hand on the famous Seagram Trophy. “I had a chance to win on two occasions during the play-off but missed putts from 12 feet. I made some mistakes,” said Guna.
“The KLGCC is a beautiful course but it’s tough as the newly laid bunkers come into play on most holes.”
If Gunasegaran is amongst the old brigade of Malaysian golf, 24-year-old Ben Leong represents the future and the talented youngster, who holds one Asian Tour victory, is hoping a new attitude will reap the rewards this season.
After winning the Worldwide Selangor Masters in 2008 where he defeated Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, a two-time Malaysian Open champion, in a memorable head-to-head duel, Ben’s game dipped dramatically.
He admitted that took his eye of his game. “I think I’ve not worked hard enough since winning and it showed. My attitude wasn’t right but I hope it’s now a thing of the past. I went to see my coach in Perth during the season break and we worked on a few things which was good as I did not have the chance to see him the whole of last year due to our schedule.”
The results have been encouraging so far as he has played in all four rounds at the season opening Asian Tour International and Avantha Masters in India, one of many new events to feature on the 2010 Asian Tour calendar.
Other Malaysians in the field at the Maybank Malaysian Open include Danny Chia, Iain Steel, Shaaban Hussin, Airil Rizman and Rashid Ismail.

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