Dream victory for Bulloch in Kijal

Ryan Bulloch © Arep Kulal/PGM

Kijal: Australia’s Ryan Bulloch had to sweat it out before clinching his maiden professional title with a wire-to-wire victory at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Terengganu Masters on Thursday.

The former greenskeeper from Perth closed with a battling one-under 70 at the Awana Kijal Golf, Beach and Spa Resort for a two-stroke victory over the pair of S. Murthy (67) and Canada’s Lindsay Renolds (66) in the seventh edition of the annual tournament organised by the Terengganu Golf Association (PGT).

Scotsman Derek McKenzie slipped out of contention with a poor closing three-over 74 to finish third  while Yang Fei-hao and Shakhawat Sohel were tied for fifth on five-under 279. The Malaysian trio of Shaaban Hussin, Zurie Harun and R. Nachimuthu totalled 280 to take a share of seventh in the RM220,000 (approximately US$70,000) Asian Development Tour (ADT) co-sanctioned event.

Bulloch, who made a dramatic career u-turn 18 months ago when he decided to re-join the paid ranks, could hardly believe his good luck in only his fourth start on Asia’s leading secondary Tour.

“Feels a little crazy and unbelievable to be honest. It was just a week ago that I wasn’t really playing that well back home in Perth, so I came here with little less expectations of my own,” admitted Bulloch, whose initial target was to better his tied-18th finish at ADT @ A’Famosa tournament last month.

He credited his good start on Tuesday when he notched an opening seven-under 64 which set him up for the week.

“It was hard work today. I was just very consistent and plodded along. I knew if I hit fairways and greens and tried to eliminate any stupid mistakes, I would have a chance. I took it one shot at a time and my putter has been behaving all week,” said the patient Bulloch, who had only birdie to show in a flawless display.

“I didn’t come in here with a lot form so to have won by leading all four days its quite surreal. It’s a good feeling and I know my family back home is going to be happy,” added the winner, who walked home with a cheque of RM38,500.

Bulloch hung up his clubs in 2004 after failing to make impact as a professional but rekindled his love for the game after feeling unsatisfied with a 9-5 job.

“I didn’t have a lot of motivation with the job I was doing back home and regardless of the fact that I was making a stable income, I wanted a challenge and the love for the game came back. So be able to say I have finally won gives that good feeling and extra ounce of confidence. Hopefully, the second win is going to be easier,” shared the confident 34-year-old.

Murthy who began the day five strokes off the pace, moved into a share of the lead on ten-under-par after a solid first nine of three birdies but his only bogey of the day on the par-three 14th put paid to hopes of a local victory.

“It was surprising as it is my favourite hole on the layout but I was caught out by the wind. I thought I could make up ground with four holes to play but I ended up with four straight pars,” shared Murthy, who was nonetheless pleased with his form this week.

“I told my wife that if I could get into double figures today I would give myself a glimmer of chance and I did but sometimes in golf it just doesn’t happen,” added the 41-year-old, who now has two runner-up finishes to show on the burgeoning domestic tour this year.

Final leading scores
273 – Ryan Bulloch (AUS) 64-71-68-70
275 – Lindsay Renolds (CAN) 73-70-66, S. Murthy (71-71-66-67)
278 – Derek Mckenzie (SCO) 69-66-69-74
279 – Yang Fei-Hao (TPE) 71-70-69-69, Shakhawat Sohel (BAN) 67-72-69-71; 280 – Shaaban Hussin 70-72-73-65, Zurie Harun 68-70-73-69, R. Nachimuthu 76-68-66-70
281 – Nicholas Fung (69-71-73-68), Grant Jackson (ENG) 67-74-70-70, Gavin Flint (67-73-70-71)