Maiden victory for Kenneth

Kenneth De Silva

Kuching: Rookie Kenneth De Silva carded a spectacular seven-under-par 65 to secure his maiden professional title at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Sarawak Masters on Sunday.

Starting the final round three shots off the lead, the 21-year-old former national birdied his opening three holes at the Sarawak Golf Club and did not look back with a flawless front nine 30. He becomes only the second Malaysian after S. Sivachandhran to win on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), which was launched by the Asian Tour in 2010.

PGM ADT Masters @ A’Famosa winner Peter Richardsan finished runner-up after closing with a solid 67 while Filipino Charles Hong signed off with a 69 to come in third in the RM180,000 (approximately US$60,000) co-sanctioned event, which was the 15th leg of burgeoning domestic circuit’s 2012 schedule.

Overnight leader Choo Tze Huang ended with a 73 to settle for tied sixth place with countryman Quincy Quek and local Akhmal Tarmizee.

The Malaysian got out of the blocks superbly with three opening birdies, firing an approach to five feet on the first hole, chipping in on the second and draining a 10-footer at the third hole. But the most important birdie putt came at the last when he drained a 15-foot curler from the fringe on the closing hole to seal a morale-boosting victory in his young professional career.

“This feels so good. It’s my first win as a professional and the best score in my life. My putting was so good … I took less than 25 putts,” said De Silva, who accumulated a four-day total of five-under-par 283 and earned RM31,500 (approximately US$10,500) for his breakthrough.

“I told myself that I needed to birdie the last to win,” said De Silva. “My caddie was giving me a lot of good lines and I felt confident with the last putt.

“When I got up this morning, I somehow felt good to play and I just got off to a really good start. I was really relaxed on the back nine and I drew on my experiences of winning (12) amateur events.”

The victory provided a silver lining for De Silva who suffered the agony of missing out on an Asian Tour card at Qualifying School in January with a heart-wrenching quadruple bogey nine on the 72nd hole. He was in position to earn his playing rights on Asia’s elite circuit but he sent two shots into the water to miss out.

“That was my worst experience and it took me a few months to get over it. But I think I learned a lot from that. Now that I have won my first ADT event, I’m going to try to win another tournament and try to finish in the top-three of the ADT Order of Merit (which rewards players with Asian Tour cards for 2013).”

Leading final round scores
283 – Kenneth De Silva 71-75-72-65
284 – Peter Richardson (ENG) 75-72-70-67
285 – Charles Hong (PHI) 71-69-76-69
286: Lindsay Renolds (CAN) 75-76-69-66
287: Sukree Othman 72-74-72-69
288: Quincy Quek (SIN) 76-73 -72-67, Akhmal Tarmizee Nazari 70-73-73-72, Choo Tze Huang (SIN) 71-70-74-73
290: Jeremiah Kim 71-72-74-73, Mitsuhiko Hashizume (JPN) 72­-74-71-73, Jhonnel Ababa (PHI) 75-71-70-74, Go Nakauchi (JPN) 71-72-78-70
291: Ryan Bulloch (AUS) 76-77-71-67, James Lam (PHI) 70-74-77-70, Mhark Fernando (PHI) 73-73-75-70, Lim Eng Seng 76-75-69-71, Michael Moore (AUS) 71-74-73-73