Showing the composure of a seasoned pro, top-ranked amateur player Low Khai Jei held his nerve to shoot a fourth and final round three-under 69 and win the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour’s Orna Closed Championship in Melaka today.
The 19-year-old, who finished in a tie for third at the PGM Northport Glenmarie Championship two weeks ago, an event co-sanctioned with the Asian Development Tour, secured his maiden Tour victory after finishing 14-under 274 at Orna Golf & Country Club this afternoon.
Starting the day with a three-stroke cushion over Nicholas Fung, Khai Jei was flawless over the first nine as he made the turn in three-under. After the 10th hole he was six shot clear of Fung. Indeed, the young man, who was in the tournament on merit, having earned his Tour card earlier in the season, had a back nine that was characterized by a disciplined even-par 36, picking up a birdie at the 16thhole and then giving the shot right back on the next.
Beaming with delight, the Taiping teenager said of his win: “It feels unbelievable. I’m very, very happy to have won on the PGM Tour here today.
“The competition in these events is stiff as there are many good players. But today I made sure that I tried to play my game without watching the others,” he added, to playing in the championship group with Fung and Khor Kheng Hwai.
“I had three birdies and pars through the first nine and that settled my nerves. I believed that I could do it. And after I birdied the 16th hole, the bogey at the next did not worry me as I had a good lead with one hole to go.”
Asked when he turn pro, given this latest development, which has proved that he can mix it with the pros and win, Khai Jei said: “I would still like to play in the Asia-Pacific Championships (an amateur event) so I will maybe turn pro next year.”
PGM Tour chairman, Tun Ahmad Sarji Abd Hamid, said they were pleased to see that their efforts of trying to help develop Malaysian golf were bearing fruit.
“We have an arrangement with the Malaysian Golf Association for them to send their National team to our Tour events, with a view to giving their players a chance to develop their game on Tour. And today’s result shows that it is good for golf in this country.”
Fung shot a 71 that left him on nine-under 279. He picked up what would have been the winner’s cheque RM30,600, given that Khai Jei as an amateur is not eligible to pocket the cash.
Ben Leong’s 70 propelled him to third place on seven-under 281, for which he collected RM20,340. Meanwhile, Khor had a 73 and finished on 282 – a massive eight strokes behind the winner in fourth place.
Wilson Choo carded a 73 for a 283 total and fifth spot, while Shaifubari Muda (71) and Mohd Amli (73) were tied for sixth, another shot back on four-under 284.
Leading Fourth Round Scores
274 Low Khai Jei (A) 69-70-66-69
279 Nicholas Fung 68-69-71-71
281 Ben Leong 70-70-71-70
282 Khor Kheng Hwai 70-69-70-73
283 Wilson Choo 68-73-69-73
284 Shaifubari Muda 70-73-70-71, Mohd Amli 76-71-64-73
285 Akhmal Tarmizee 68-76-73-68
287 Mohamad Azman Basharudin 76-73-73-65
289 Sukree Othman 71-73-76-69, R. Nachimuthu 72-74-74-69, Kim Leun Kwang 73-71-70-75
290 Keegan Kam 74-74-71-71, Airil Rizman 73-76-68-73
291 Lam Yu Shuen 67-73-75-76
292 Lim Eng Seng 72-71-75-74
294 Kenneth Tobuse 69-75-76-74, S. Siva Chandhran 69-77-77-71, C. M. Chong 74-74-76-70