Shah Alam, March 18: Malaysia’s Ben Leong claimed his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) title in the weather-shortened PGM Northport Championship, closing with a 70 for a seven-shot win at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club. He overcame contact lens problems on the front nine to finish with a 54-hole total of 20-under-par 196 at Glenmarie’s Garden Course, leaving England’s Steve Lewton a distant second on 203.
Starting the final round with an eight-shot advantage following a superb second round 62, Leong lost his right contact lens before teeing off and had to use one of a different degree from his friend for his first nine holes. The 31-year-old Sabahan obtained a correct replacement lens after making the turn and went on to complete a commanding wire-to-wire victory in the RM200,000 (approximately US$44,600) event.
“It has been an eventful day! I couldn’t find my right contact lens this morning and I was prepared to head out with my glasses. I can’t remember when was the last time I played with my glasses!
“I was lucky enough to get one from my friend although it was of a different degree. I managed to play through the first nine with that before getting a replacement for my correct lens,” said Leong, who fired three birdies against a one and only bogey of the week on fourth.
Leong, a one-time winner on the Asian Tour in 2008, regained his Asian Tour card at the 2017 Qualifying School in January after finishing fourth. He has been in impressive form with five straight wins on the local PGM Tour last season and was thrilled to finally win his first ADT title.
“I didn’t hit the ball as good today but I stayed patient out there and played one shot at a time. This win means a lot to me. Winning on the ADT was one of my goals for this year and I am glad to achieve it in my first ADT event this season.
“It’s great to see my hard work paying off. My short game has been superb this week but my long game could have been better. Hopefully this win will help me prepare well for the upcoming tournaments on the Asian Tour,” added Leong, who took home a winner’s prize purse of US$7,868 and received six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points.
Malaysian rookie Daeng Abdul Rahman surged up the leaderboard with a superb closing 64, finishing joint 10th with compatriot Nicholas Fung and Americans Blake Snyder and John Michael O’Toole on 10-under-par.
Results (Top 10 and ties):
196 (-20) – Ben LEONG (MAS) 64-62-70
203 (-13) – Steve LEWTON (ENG) 66-68-69
204 (-12) – Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN) 70-69-65, LIU Yan-wei (CHN) 71-66-67, Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA) 69-68-67, James BYRNE (SCO) 65-69-70
205 (-11) – Mathiam KEYSER (RSA) 69-67-69, Pannakorn UTHAIPAS (THA) 68-68-69, Jay BAYRON (PHI) 65-70-70
206 (-10) – Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 70-70-66, Blake SNYDER (USA) 68-68-70, John Michael O’TOOLE (USA) 69-67-70, Daeng Abdul Rahman (MAS) 72-70-64
<more to come>