Malaysia’s teen sensation Daeng Abdul Rahman underlined his immense potential with an impressive comeback victory in the MPI Saujana Amateur Championship.
Starting the final round three shots back of Singapore’s Johnson Poh, Daeng kept his composure and closed with a solid 72 to claim his first senior amateur title as Johnson suffered a late meltdown. The 15-year-old Malaysian finished with a three-day total of five-under-par 211, two shots ahead of Kevin Caesario Akbar of Indonesia.
Kevin closed with a 74 which proved good enough to steal second place from Johnson, who stumbled to a final round 78 which included five dropped shots in his last three holes – thanks largely to a triple bogey at the par-three 17th when he hit his tee shot into the water.
“I’m very happy as this is my first amateur title and it’s a big one,” said Daeng, who made history in April when he became the youngest winner on the local PGM Tour with a one-shot win in the Danau Closed Championship.
“My game plan today was to just hit fairways and try to make birdies but somehow I couldn’t make any on the first nine – and it was the same story on the second nine. So I told myself just make par and Johnson ended up blowing the last three holes.
“On the last hole I felt a bit of pressure as the pin placement was very tough – I pulled my second shot over the bunker on the left but managed to save par. My short game helped me a lot these last few days,” added Daeng, who will be making his debut as a member of the Malaysian team for the South East Asia (SEA) Games in Singapore in a couple of weeks.
Daeng paid tribute to his father, Abdul Aziz, who taught him the game when he was four and has been his coach ever since.
“My father has played a very important role in my golf career. As I grew, my swing changed as my body developed and he helped me adapt and progress. He’s been a strong pillar of support,” said Daeng.
While obviously disappointed, Johnson noted that he would take this week as part of the learning process.
“I think I have to learn how to stay focused better as I lost a bit of focus during the round today. I guess it was because of the weather but that’s no excuse because we are from this part of the world,” said the 23-year-old.
“I just need to be stronger and treat this week as a good learning experience. I’ll need to get over this and move on and hopefully I’ll do better in the SEA Games,” added Johnson, who plans to turn professional after the SEA Games.
RESULTS (Malaysian unless stated):
211 – Daeng Abd Rahman Abd Aziz 71-68-72
213 – Kevin Caesario Akbar (INA) 70-69-74
214 – Johnson Poh (SIN) 69-67-78;
216 – Genki Okada (JPN) 71-74-71
217 – Amir Nazrin Jailani 70-74-73
218 – Marc Ong (SIN) 70-78-70
219 – Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 71-78-70; Abdul Hadi (SIN) 73-74-72
220 – Sangchai KAewcharoen (THA) 72-71-77; Harrison Endycott (AUS) 73-76-71
222 – Chi Huang (TWN) 72-73-77; Yongxuan Yin (CHN) 71-73-78; Gregory Foo (SIN) 75-72-75
223 – Fadhli Rahman Soetarso (INA) 74-77-72; Tirto Tamardi (INA) 76-71-76