Sidelined through injury at the start of the tournament, Rashid Ismail became the match-winning Malaysian hero in a thrilling denouement to the second edition of the Prudential Causeway Trophy.
Forced to sit out the opening-day foursomes due to a jarred back, Rashid had the distinction of securing the half-point that gave the visitors a 12½ – 11½ victory in the Ryder Cup-style team match play event at Laguna National Golf and Country Club.
In the last of the 12 singles matches out on the course, Choo Tze Huang needed to defeat Rashid to tie the overall score, in which case Singapore would have retained the Trophy by dint of being the defending champions.
But Rashid, who went ahead for the first time at the 12th, completed a fairytale comeback with a stunning birdie at the par-four 16th where he struck a majestic nine-iron approach from 117 metres to within a yard of the cup.
As his ball disappeared below ground for a birdie to guarantee Malaysia victory, Rashid was mobbed by his jubilant team-mates.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said 41-year-old Rashid, whose match with Choo will be entered into the record books as a half. Two-up after 16 and with team success assured, Rashid conceded the final two holes, meaning the singles were squared 6-6.
Rashid, who lost his fourball match on Saturday, said: “I have a swollen tendon (in lower back) which is very painful, especially when hitting iron shots.
“I had physio and treatment to help me play in the fourball, but I was worried I wouldn’t make it for the singles. This morning I took a pain killer and I managed to get through, even though I think I was only able to swing at about 60 per cent.
“This is certainly a highlight in my career. I’m very proud to win the Causeway Trophy for our country.”
Ahead 6½ – 5½ at the start of the singles, Malaysian non-playing captain CM Chong watched his team endure a roller-coaster ride on what proved to be a thrillingly unpredictable day of wildly fluctuating fortunes.
Malaysia stormed out of the blocks and appeared set for an overwhelming victory with blue numbers dominating the leaderboards. But Singapore’s middle and lower order fought back courageously to ensure the outcome remained in doubt right to the last.
“I’m almost speechless,” said Malaysian captain Chong. “After last year’s defeat, we were determined to win. It was a real ding-dong match and a memorable week.”
Mohd Said bin Abdul Latif, Singapore’s non-playing captain, was magnanimous in defeat. “I congratulate my team for the way they battled and I also congratulate the Malaysians. They were a strong team and much better prepared than last year.”