Arie Irawan won his first professional title in the RM350,000 PGM Maybank Players’ Championship, edging veteran Airil Rizman by two shots at Impian Golf & Country Club.
Just a year-and-a-half after turning professional, Arie secured a wire-wire triumph in the PGM Tour’s season-ender by closing with a 69 for a a 14-under-par 274 total. Airil finished with a 65 to secure second place and the PGM Order of Merit title.
“It feels surreal to stand here and speak about having won this tournament,” said Arie. “It is the biggest event on the PGM Tour and I am absolutely happy to have managed to pull it off. It is not easy to win on this tour as there are maybe 15-to-20 players in each field who stand a good chance of winning.
“I started today with a four-stroke lead and knew that if I played positive and also aggressively, I could do it. I came close a few times before today but did not manage to go all the way and I think in some ways that helped teach me to focus on the right things,” added the 24-year-old, who picked up a cheque for RM60,000.
“My goal this year was to finish in the top-five on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), but I fell just short of that, missing out by one spot. Still I’m happy with how this season went and I can best describe it as being very good.”
Airil said he was pleased with how his campaign as a whole unfolded – winning in his home state Perlis in June – and with a number top-10s, claimed the Order of Merit crown. His runner-up cheque of RM40,000 took his season haul to RM218,921, some RM35,000 ahead of R. Nachimuthu who had led for a long period of time following his two victories earlier in the season.
“I could not ask for more,” said Airil. “Today I tried to push Arie for the win but he did well to stay in front. I played very well today and was really zoned in. But in the end it was not enough.
“But I’m still very happy with how 2014 turned out for me. To win the Order of Merit is very nice and I am honoured and hope to continue with this next season.”
Ben Leong, who won the PGM I&P Group Closed Championship at Kinrara Golf Club in Puchong in August, finished third, three strokes off the lead on 11-under 277. He collected RM24,147.
“This was my comeback campaign,” said Leong, in reference to a back injury that required surgery and kept him out of the game for almost two years. “And I am just happy to be playing again and competing each week.
“Of course, I am also very happy that I have been able to get my game to a winning level, which is something that I did not expect so soon after the injury.”
274 Arie Irawan 64-70-71-69
276 Airil Rizman 69-70-72-65
277 Ben Leong 72-69-68-68
279 Mohamad Azman Basharudin 72-68-72-67, R. Nachimuthu 67-72-70-70
279 Sukree Othman 70-71-68-70
280 Kemarol Baharin 73-65-73-69
282 Akhmal Tarmizee 72-72-67-71
283 M. Sasidaran 71-73-72-67, Wilson Choo 70-71-71-71
Leading PGM Final Order of Merit Standings
1 Airil Rizman Zahari – 218,921.83
2 R. Nachimuthu – 185,129.19
3 Arie Irawan – 145,549.33
4 Shaaban Hussin – 124,666.36
5 Sukree Othman – 121,416.80
6 M. Rizal Amin – 114,081.58
7 Kemarol Baharin – 113,803.08
8 Khor Kheng Hwai – 112,421.58
9 Ben Leong – 109,510.67
10 Danny Chia – 92,542.92
11 Shaifubari Muda – 78,130.73
12 Nicholas Fung – 76,591.25
13 Hans Jamil – 65,625.94
14 S. Siva Chandhran – 65,075.50
15 Wilson Choo – 62,831.36