Thailand’s Nirun Sae-ueng ended a four-year title drought on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) after defeating local hero Gavin Green on the first extra hole at the PGM Maybank ADT Championship.
Nirun and Green both staged remarkable comebacks from six and eight shots back respectively at the start of the final round to end regulation play tied on 15-under-par 273. Nirun carded a closing 66 while Green signed in a superb 64 at Saujana Golf & Country Club’s Palm Course.
While Green impressed with his flawless round of eight birdies to claim the clubhouse lead, it was Nirun who made heads turn when he holed his third shot for eagle at the last hole to overturn a two-shot deficit and force extra-time. The duo returned to the par-five 18th hole for the play-off battle where Nirun pipped Green with a par against a bogey to triumph at the US$54,000 event.
Thai overnight leader Atiruj Winaicharoenchai failed to convert his commanding four-shot advantage into victory after battling to a 74 to finish sole third on 275, while Malaysia’s Amir Nazrin finished one shot further back after closing with a 71.
Nirun admitted that he was left in disbelief when he eagled the last hole. “I knew it was going to be tough to overtake Gavin, who was two shots clear at the top. For the last hole, I was just trying to finish with a flourish by aiming for a birdie.
“I hit my shot to about 75 yards and tried to chip onto the green. I didn’t think it would go in! I didn’t notice it went in as the pin was behind the hill. I only realised I made the eagle when I heard the loud cheers and fellow players came to congratulate me as I approached the green,” said Nirun, who pocketed US$9,529 to move from 51st to 19th on the ADT Order of Merit.
Having collected US$14,842 from nine starts, Nirun has set his sights on claiming a big share of the season-ending US$160,000 Taifong Open in Chinese Taipei next month to make his last-ditch bid to crack into the top-seven.
“The victory has opened up the opportunity for me to try sneak into the top seven.. The Taifong Open is a big money event and I can still earn my Asian Tour card if I could finish top three there.
“Winning my first ADT title in four years has restored my confidence and ambition,” he said.
Maybank ambassador Green was meanwhile philosophical in defeat, where he missed a short putt to extend the playoff. “I’m disappointed in the playoff of course but I had a good final round. Putts went in and I hit it great to make 17 out 18 greens, I would say it’s still a solid week.
“I have been working really hard on some stuff with the swing and I’m liking the way I’m striking it. It’s a great preparations for the next year’s Maybank Championship, that’s for sure,” said Green.
Meanwhile, Genevieve Ling picked up her fourth professional title and third in a row at Saujana by winning the concurrent PGM Ladies Championship.
ADT Order of Merit leader Naoki Sekito of Japan could only manage to finish tied 30th but it was good enough for him to keep himself at the top on US$50,278, giving him a US$21,000 cushion over second-placed Pannakorn Uthaipas of Thailand (US$29,794).
Leading final round scores
273 – Nirun Sae-ueng (THA) 72-66-69-66, Gavin Green (MAS) 71-68-70-64
275 – Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 66-70-65-74
276 – Amir Nazrin 68-69-68-71 (MAS)
278 – Ryuichi Oiwa (JPN) 69-68-73-68, Seung Park (KOR) 71-68-70-69, Matt Killen (ENG) 68-68-72-70, Suttijet Kooratanapisan (THA) 68-68-72-70
279 – Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 68-69-69-73
282 – Oscar Zetterwall (SWE) 72-71-69-70. Wolmer Murrilo (VEN) 69-69-73-71
283 – Choo Tze Huang (SGP) 66-77-68-71, Ben Leong (MAS) 74-68-69-72
284 – Shinichi Mizuno (JPN) 66-70-72-76
285 – George Gandranata (INA) 70-73-72-70, Adam Blyth (AUS) 71-72-70-72