Nachimuthu rules the roost in Sabah

Winner R. Nachimuthu with PGM chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid (left) and Datuk Sari Suhut of Sabah Tourism (right) © Eddie Putera/PGM

Kota Kinabalu: The final round of the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Sabah Classic went down to the wire but as expected a familiar face once again prevailed as R. Nachimuthu grabbed his second Tour title of the season.

The 41-year-old reigning Order of Merit champion continued his recent run of form,, closing with a flawless round of three-under 69 to clinch a slim one-stroke victory over defending champion and local darling Nicholas Fung

Totalling five-under 283 over four rounds, Nachimuthu picked up a cheque for RM33,600 and further strengthened his grasp on the current Order of Merit leaderboard.

Seven strokes adrift in third was S. Sivachandhran, who managed a closing one-under 71 for a two-over 290 aggregate. Despite garnering his best finish of the year, the 32-year-old was nonetheless disappointed with a double bogey on the 14th and a bogey on the 16th , which cost him a under-par finish for the tournament.

Birdies on the first, sixth and the 10th helped Nachimuthu maintain his one-shot overnight lead for much of the round and while Fung proved a tough challenger, a dropped shot on the 16th proved the 22-year-old Sabahan’s only undoing in the end.

Despite a late trot of birdies on the 17th and 18th, Fung could only watch in anguish as the four-time PGM Tour winner once again displayed his superiority on the burgeoning domestic circuit with a calm finish.

“Today, I just went out there to play one shot at a time and protect my lead. Fung played brilliantly except for his mistake at the 16th, “said Nachimuthu, who was the sole player to card four sub-par rounds all week.

“Right now, my game feels good and I’m playing with real confidence,“ added Nachimuthu, who just recently inked a sponsorship deal with property conglomerate I&P Group.

Buoyed by his family and friends, Fung had an audacious eagle attempt on the 18th but left it short. “I tried my best. I shot the same score that I did last year (when he beat Danny Chia to win the tournament) but it wasn’t good enough,” said Fung.

“It was a bit of struggle in the front nine where I only made two birdies because my iron play was not so good but if I had one regret, the bogey on the 16th kind of change things.”

Final round scores & ties
283 – R. Nachimuthu 70-72-72-69
284 – Nicholas Fung 68-75-72-69
290 – S. Sivachandhran 68-76-75-71
292 – Mohd Rizal Amin 75-71-73-73
293 – Airil Rizman 76-73-76-68; Haziq Hamizan 72-75-76-70; Wilson Choo 74-75-73-71
294 – Khor Kheng Hwai 75-72-73-74
295 – Kalana Ibrahim 71-75-74-75; Kalana Ibrahim 71-75-74-75
296 – Anis Helmi Hassan 76-73-75-72
299 – Md Rashid Ismail 74-79-72-74; S. Murthy 73-77-76-73; M Rusli Johari 72-78-76-73; Akhmal Tarmizee 77-73-74-75
300 – Kenneth Tobuse 75-72-79-74; M. Ramayah 77-74-77-72; Dinata Abdillah 74-77-74-76; P. Gunasegaran 73-77-75-76; Zurie Harun 73-7577-76