Seremban: Sabahan Nicholas Fung snapped his winless streak with a strong final round display to triumph at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Negeri Sembilan Classic on Saturday.
Nicholas, who notched six runner-up finishes including four on the burgeoning domestic circuit this year, bettered Iylia Jamil on the first extra hole at Seremban International Golf Club after both players had finished level on ten-under 278.
Airil Rizman Zahari, who started the final round at five-under moved into contention when he went up to nine-under through seven holes but dropped four shots around the turn to finish 6-under 282 together alongside joint overnight leader S. Sivachandhran (73) and Mohd Azman Basharuddin (71).
Veteran M.Ramayah, who had inspired run at the RM125,000 tournament, closed with an even-par 72 to total four-under 288 in joint sixth place with Akhmal Tarmizee and S. Murthy.
Iylia thought he had done enough clinch his second professional win of the season by setting the clubhouse lead with a closing six-under 66. But Nicholas drained a birdie putt on the 18th hole to force a sudden-death shoot-out after missing a glorious chance to seal the outright win with a 12-foot eagle chance.
The play-off proved to be a damper after Iylia pulled his tee-shot right into the trees while Nicholas eased into the first cut with two shots. With the former only finding the green with his fourth shot, the 21-year-old from Kota Kinabalu had the luxury of two putts to claim a moral-boosting victory and take home his share of RM21,000.
“Delighted with the finish because as I was a bit nervous going into the play-off. I have not been putting well this year and have struggled to convert my chances in a few events, so I am just glad that I’ve brought the barren run to an end,” shared a relieved Fung, whose last victory came at the PGM Sarawak Classic in September last year.
“I know I had a good chance coming into the final round but I only managed two birdies coming into the final hole, so I knew that I had to finish strongly,” he added.
Iylia was pleased with his effort despite missing out on his second PGM Tour title. “I can’t really complain [about the outcome] because I played a really fantastic round. To be honest, I thought I had done enough to claim the win and my batteries were running low when I went back to the 18th teebox again,” stated the 21-year-old, who won the PGAM-KRPM Classic in July.
Leading final round scores
278 – Nicholas Fung (72-67-70-69), Mohd Iylia Jamil (73-68-70-67)
Nicholas wins on first playoff hole
282 – Airil Rizman Zahari (70-68-73-71), S. Sivachandhran (66-74-69-73), Azman Basharuddin (70-73-68-71)
284 – Md Rashid Ismail (65-71-76-72), Akhmal Tarmizee Nazari (71-66-74-73), S. Murthy (76-69-67-72), M. Ramayah (67-76-69-72)
285 – Daniel Ng (72-69-67-72)