Puchong: Sukree Othman entered the record books on Saturday en-route to claiming his third Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) title at the I&P Kinrara Classic.
Starting the final round with a healthy seven-stroke advantage, the 35-year-old closed with a solid round of five-under-par 67 for a four-day aggregate of 24-under-par 264 at Kinrara Golf Club, preserving his advantage over runner-up Nicholas Fung, who signed off with a three-under 69.
Fellow Sabahan Ben Leong showed signs of reaching his full potential once again, his fourth consecutive sub-par round of the week aiding him to a third place finish on 12-under-par 276 – his best finish to-date on the burgeoning domestic circuit. The trio of R. Nachimuthu (68), Md Rashid Ismail (67) and Mohd Iszaimi Ismail took a share of fifth on 283 while Asian Tour-winning duo Airil Rizman and Danny Chia were a further stroke back in seventh.
Sukree’s overall score usurped the previous best of 22-under-par set by Jonathan Moore at the Asian Development Tour co-sanctioned Impian Classic last year, earning him a second winner’s cheque of RM21,000 this season. He also picked up a bonus of RM10,000 courtesy of title sponsors I&P Group for setting a new course record of nine-under-par 63 during the second round on Thursday.
“I don’t think it was easy for me out there this week but that’s just golf – it happens when you’re most not expecting it,” shared Sukree, who persevered through a bad cold this week to lift the title.
“It is definitely the most memorable of my three victories so far on the tour as I not only shot my career best round but also netted a record winning total,” added the Kota Permai resident professional, whose previous victories came at the Kelantan Classic this year and the Harvard Classic in 2011.
Sukree traded six birdies including four consecutive gains from hole 13 to 16 before recording his only bogey of the round on the 18th. “I didn’t think I had sewed up the win until the closing hole. I think it was important that I was not complacent today and took it shot-by-shot and kept my focus in check.”
With two wins in the bag so far in 2012, Sukree was glad to move up to third on the current PGM Order of Merit with a haul of RM48,802.60 at the mid-point of the season. “It’s a dream to top the Order of Merit and I believe this win definitely puts me in the right state of mind to challenge for it come the end of the year,” he concluded.
An eagle on the tenth was the highlight of Fung’s round but the two-time PGM Tour winner was notably disappointed despite a flawless finish to his campaign. “I think my putting this week was below expectations. The birdies were out there for the taking but I just couldn’t drain enough to match a superb performance by Sukree,” admitted the good sport.
Leong on the other hand was taking much positives after his highest finish to date on the burgeoning domestic circuit. ” I hit it really week this and hung in there despite a couple of rough patches along the way.
“My long game was a revelation this week and going out on the final flight today proved to me that my practice is paying off. So, it feels great to be up there with the rest of the guys and I hope that is the first of more to come,” he commented.
The Tour will head to Ayer Keroh Country Club next for its eleventh stop at the PGM Melaka Classic from June 6 to 9.
Leading final round scores (top ten & ties)
264 Sukree Othman (69-63-65-67)
273 Nicholas Fung (65-69-70-69)
276 Ben Leong (70-72-66-68)
283 R. Nachimuthu (72-72-71-68); Md Rashid Ismail (71-71-74-67); Mohd Iszaimi Ismail (71-72-70-70)
284 Airil Rizman Zahari (75-69-70-70); Danny Chia (72-65-74-73)
285 Shaaban Hussin (71-71-70-73)
286 – Nicholas Pua (70-71-79-66); Akhmal Tarmizee (73-71-73-69), P. Gunasagaran (73-70-73-70)