Nachi strikes late at Impian

R. Nachimuthu looks on after rolling in a tricky birdie putt on the closing hole to cap a two-shot win ©Arep Kulal|PGM
R. Nachimuthu looks on after rolling in a tricky birdie putt on the closing hole to cap a two-shot win ©Arep Kulal|PGM

Saujana Impian: R. Nachimuthu extended his lead on the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Order of Merit with a richly-deserved two-shot victory at the Impian Championship on Saturday.

The seasoned campaigner returned with a flawless four-under 68 at Impian Golf & Country Club, totalling 13-under 275 to snuff out a late charge by Sukree Othman, who blitzed around the layout to close with a stunning seven-under 65.

A second consecutive 72 saw joint overnight leader Mohd Rizal Amin slip into a share of third on 279 alongside reigning Merit champion Nicholas Fung (71) and a resurgent Danny Chia, who continued on his comeback trail after a long injury lay-off with a strong five-under 67.

Wilson Choo (66) and Rahizam Ramli (69) were a further stroke adrift in tied sixth at the RM160,000 championship.

Dubbed the burgeoning domestic circuit’s Mr Consistent, Nachimuthu had one victory and five top-five finishes to show from his six  previous starts this year and his confident play was there for all to see as he rolled in back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th to seal the victory.

“I did not push myself too hard this week, just stayed patient and put up a decent number every day. I’m happy to head into the Maybank Malaysian Open on a winning note,” said the now seven-time Tour winner.

“My ball-striking has been good and it is a result of the hard work I have put in over the last six to seven months. I’m not getting any younger and the competition is increasingly stern, so I’ve dedicated many hours on my fitness and game. If I had one complaint, it would be my putting – which I feel can still be improved. I left a few out there this week but luckily, it didn’t cost me the title,” added Nachimuthu, who tops the money list with RM107,082.

Sukree was not thinking off a title charge at the start of the round but a run of five birdies in seven holes through 15th pushed him into contention. “I was tied for eighth at the start of the round, so to finish second on 11-under after a round of 65 is really very good for me,” he said.

“I am happy with the way things fell in place. I was confident with my irons and set-up a lot of birdie chances, converting eight of them. I didn’t not capitalise the chances I had on the par-fives, which is a small sore but I’m taking a lot of confidence from this round heading into the national Open,” shared Sukree.

Leading final round scores
275 – R. Nachimuthu 69-68-70-68
277 – Sukree Othman 71-72-69-65
279 – Danny Chia 67-72-73-67, Mohamad Rizal Amin 68-67-72-72 ,Nicholas Fung 67-72-69-71
280 – Wilson Choo 69-69-76-66, Rahizam Ramli 70-69-72-69
281 – Kemarol Baharin 69-69-75-68, Rashid Ismail 69-72-72-68
282 – Shaifubari Muda 68-74-71-69, Hans Jamil 68-69-71-74
283 – S. Murthy 77-67-71-68