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‘Jack Nicklaus of Malaysia’

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MALAYSIAN golf shed a tear yesterday.

One of its pioneering heroes, P. Gunasegaran died at Selayang Hospital at 10am. He was 53.

Gunasegaran’s son Yogendran, said his father passed away from multiple organ failure due to a stroke that he had suffered a few days ago.

Fellow professional Airil Rizman, said Gunasegaran suffered his first stroke a few years back.

Popularly known as P. Gunasegaran or Guna, he was best remembered for his heroics in the 1994 Malaysian Open at Royal Selangor Golf Club.

He played the best final round of his life when he got into an epic eight-hole playoff with Frank Nobilo and Joakim Haegmann.

In an exclusive interview with Golf Digest Malaysia in 2011, Gunasegaran finally told the nation what had happened that fateful Sunday.

“People were asking what’s going on, what happened to my life and how could I have missed that crucial putt in the playoff to lose the Malaysian Open title and where did I go from there,” Gunasegaran recalled.

“I had two chances to win during the playoff but I missed putts from 12 feet. I made some mistakes.”

He added: “At the end of the day, I could honestly say I had given my best shot, went all out in that tournament for the country and for myself.

“I kept my cool for that final putt but sometimes in golf, just like in life itself, things do not work out the way you planned and I missed the putt. Disappointed? Definitely.

“That was a big miss indeed. But, I wouldn’t cry over spilled milk and feel miserable my whole life.

“I shunned the media spotlight, because there was nothing to be told or glorified about that missed putt. To me, it’s just another game which I didn’t win.”

Together with former pro M. Ramayah, Gunasegaran brought golf into the forefront by regularly performing well on the local and international circuits.

They were the top two golfers in the country and were the go-to guys when the national team came calling.

During the 1990s when on the rare occasions golf events were televised, Malaysians loved to tune in and watch these two gentlemen play alongside the world’s best golfers.

Gunasegaran rarely disappointed.

Coming from a modest income family, Gunasegaran had to fight all his life to make a decent living.

He started as caddie in his hometown of Kuala Kubu Baru in 1972, earning a mere RM0.80 before getting a raise to RM2.50.

He turned pro 20 years later, but not before winning a SEA Games gold medal in 1989.

He was also planning to open an academy at his old club as a way of giving back to the game.

Before his death, there was uncertainty and confusion among the golf fraternity as it was initially reported he had died on Friday.

It turned out to be untrue as he was still on life support but by which time, many had paid tribute and expressed their condolences.

It all started on Tuesday when a relative went to check on him after friends and family were unable to reach him for almost three days.

They noticed he was alone at home and in distress. He could not move and had probably not eaten anything for the three days he was unreachable.

Paramedics were summoned and they rushed Gunasegaran to Kuala Kubu Baru Hospital on Tuesday night where he was placed under observation.

At 4am Wednesday morning, they moved the 1989 SEA Games gold medallist to Hospital Selayang where he had a stroke the following day.

He hung on for two more days before taking his last breathe.

Gunasegaran leaves wife N. Nalina, 38, son Yogendran, 21, and daughters, Thanusha, 18, and Thanushini, 14.

Patrick Ho is editor of
Golf Digest Malaysia