Thailand teenager Phachara Khongwatmai became the youngest winner on the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour when he won the CCM Rahman Putra Championship by a comfortable four strokes today.
Phachara, who came into the fourth and final round with a share of the lead, fired an impressive six-under-par 66 to finish with a 20-under 268 total at the RM200,000 tournament at Kelab Rahman Putra Malaysia.
In an event co-sanctioned with the Asian Development Tour and one that carries world ranking points for the top-six, joint overnight leader Malaysian Danny Chia and American Shane Smith were tied for second place on 16-under 272, while Sutijet Kooratanapisan, also of Thailand, carded a 69 to take third place, another stroke back.
Quincy Quek of Singapore, who led after the second round, was fourth, having closed with a 69 for a 274 total. Another American Brett Munson (73) was sixth and Thammanoon Sriroj, of also from Thailand, seventh on 277.
Another teenager in the field to make his presence felt was Malaysian amateur Ervin Chang, who signed for a closing 68 and was eighth on nine-under 279 for the tournament. He was followed by a four-way tie for ninth on 280 that included his compatriots Khor Kheng Hwai (71) and Abel Tan (72).
Phachara, who already has a pro win in his homeland, became the youngest winner on the PGM Tour at the age of 15 years eight months.
Delighted with his success that came at the expense of some seasoned pros, Phachara said: “I am very happy that I played that well. My game was good from tee box to green and I was able to win.”
The young budding Thai star, who made the grade at this year’s Asian Tour Qualifying School, added that he was planning to be well-prepared for the regional Tour when it starts next month.
Turning to his form that made the win possible, Phachara said: “I kept the ball in the fairways, hit some good approach shots to the green and putted well.
“I started off well with an eagle at the par-5 3rd hole before bogeying the 6th and then birdied the 9th hole to make the turn in two-under. And then on the back nine I eagled the 10th and birdied the 15th and 18 holes.”
Phachara played the last 52 holes of the Rahman Putra Championship at 19-under-par, to clearly show that he has immense talent and will be one player to watch out for in the future.
The next PGM Tour stop is UMW Impian Championship, co-sanctioned with the Asean PGA Tour and to be held at Impian Golf & Country Club from April 1-4.
Leading Third Round Scores
268 Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha) 71-66-65-66
272 Shane Smith (US) 68-69-71-64, Danny Chia (Mas) 68-68-66-70
273 Sutijet Kooratanapisan (Tha) 68-69-67-69
274 Quincy Quek (Sin) 67-67-71-69
276 Brett Munson (US) 68-69-66-73
277 Thammanoon Sriroj (Tha) 68-73-68-68
279 Ervin Chang (A) (Mas) 70-69-72-68
280 Lindsay Renolds (Can) 71-69-72-68, Casey O’Toole (US) 69-73-69-69, Khor Kheng Hwai (Mas) 70-67-72-71, Abel Tam (Mas) 72-67-69-72
281 Pavit Tangkamolprasert (Tha) 71-71-69-70
282 Sean Riordan (NZl) 72-71-70-69, Settee Prakongvech (Tha) 68-71-74-69, R. Nachimuthu (Mas) 71-72-69-70, Jordan Sherratt (Aus) 67-72-72-71, Koh Deng Shan (Sin) 73-69-69-71
283 Sam Cyr (US) 74-69-69-71, Dominic Foos (Ger) 69-68-74-72