Thailand made a clean sweep of the top-three places in the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour’s Sabah Championship today.
In a gripping finale to the RM200,000 event that is co-sanctioned with the Asian Development Tour and staged at Sabah Golf & Country Club, Nirun Sae-Ueng beat compatriot Pavit Tangkamolprasert in a playoff after both finished the tournament with eight-under 280 totals. The champion fired a closing round seven-under 65, while Pavit shot a 66.
Sixteen-year-old Phachara Khongwatmai, who won at Rahman Putra in March, was joint third after shooting a last round 67 and finishing just one stroke behind the top-two, on 281. He was tied with compatriot Danthai Boonma, who carded a 71.
Malaysia’s Ben Leong was fifth, making up 25 places with his final round 66. He was four-under-par 284.
Thailand took the next two places as well, with Pasamet Pogamnerd (68) and Sutijet Kooratanapisan (72) tied for sixth on 285.
After registering his first win on the PGM and ADT Tours, Nirun said he was delighted that his efforts in training had come to fruition.
Adding that he liked the Sabah GCC layout, the 20-year-old who resides about an hour from Bangkok and won in his homeland just a month after turning pro in April 2014, said: “This is a very special win for me and I am very happy.”
Turning to his game, he added: “I am also very happy with how I played, especially today. And to win it in a playoff, against Pavit was tough, as he also played very well.
“The competition is stiff in these tournaments as there are many good players in the field.”
Nirun started with a bogey on his first hole and gave no indication of what was to follow. But after he birdie the second, he strung together four-in-a-row from the 4th hole. He added another birdie at the 10th before picking up another two strokes at the 15th and 16th holes.
Pavit’s round, meanwhile, was almost as sharp. In a blemish-free display, he had two birdies on the front nine and then another four on the back nine.
He too said he was pleased with his week’s work in Sabah, but disappointed somewhat to lose out in a playoff.
Leong’s fourth and final round was marked by an explosive opening. After six holes he was five-under, thanks mainly to an eagle on the par-5 2nd hole. He picked up another three strokes before giving one back at the 7th. Two more birdies followed, before another bogey at the 14th and a birdie at the 18th hole.
The next stop on the PGM Tour is the MNRB Sarawak Championship, also co-sanctioned with the ADT Tour and to be played at Kelab Golf Sarawak from May 13-16 (next Wed-Sat).
Leading Fourth Round Scores
280 Nirun Sae-Ueng (Tha) 73-69-73-65, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (Tha) 70-69-75-66
281 Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha) 68-72-74-67, Danthai Boonma (Tha) 72-69-69-71
284 Ben Leong (Mas) 75-71-72-66
285 Pasamet Pogamnerd (Tha) 74-71-72-68, Sutijet Kooratanapisan (Tha) 70-70-73-72
286 Charles Hong (Phi) 73-73-70-70, Brett Munson (US) 74-71-70-71, Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (Tha) 72-68-74-72
287 Jordan Irawan (Ina) 74-71-73-69, Gyeongjun Lee (Kor) 72-69-75-71, Lam Chih Bing (Sin) 74-71-73-69, Rizal Amin (Mas) 74-72-70-71, Koh Deng Shan (Sin) 70-71-72-74, Thammanoon Sriroj (Tha) 74-72-66-75, Danny Chia (Mas) 67-72-72-76