Ababa claims Penang win

Jhonel Ababa ©Azhari Yusop|PGM Tour
Jhonel Ababa ©Azhari Yusop|PGM Tour

Georgetown (PENANG): Jhonnel Ababa of the Philippines claimed his breakthrough on the ASEAN PGA Tour circuit after  capturing the RM170,000 Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) ASEAN PGA Penang Championship on Saturday.

The 30-year-old closed with a flawless 69 to clinch a decisive two-stroke winning margin over Thailand’s Atthaphon Sriboonkaew, whose compatriot Nakarintra Ratanakul (67) and Singaporean Choo Tze Huang finished joint third on 276 .

Another Thai Pravee Visalkit (6) took sole fifth on 11-under 277 with countrymen Phachara Khongwatmai (68) and Piya Swangarunporn (72) of Thailand a further stroke adrift in share for sixth with local Khor Kheng Hwai (69) on 10-under 278.

Despite a birdie on the third, Ababa saw his three-shot overnight lead cut to just a single stroke after nine holes as Attaphon flew off the blocks with a pair of birdies each side of a  bogey on fifth.

But the Manila native bounced back with two successive gains after the turn, including a tap-in birdie on 10th after a superb approach shot, to stretch his lead back to three shots. Attaphon reduced the advantage with with birdies on 13th and 14th to stay in the reckoning but three-putted the 16th to ensure Ababa enjoyed a relatively comfortable stroll to the title.

“I like to dedicate this win to the Lord. It has been quite a while since I won but this is definitely the biggest win of my career against some good players, so I’m very satisfied,” said Ababa,who was the Philippine Golf Tour’s Player of the Year in 2011 on the back of three triumphs.

“I felt very comfortable and relaxed out there today and just nursed my three-shot cushion. I knew that if I could get two or three birdies, I’d be hard to catch, so the key was to minimise the mistakes. Atthaphon gave me a good fight but I’ve been feeling very confident over the ball all week, so it was just a matter of getting the job done,” added the former national, who claimed a winner’s cheque of RM28,900.

Leading final round scores
270 – Jhonnel Ababa (PHI) 68-68-65-69
272 – Atthaphon Sriboonkaew (THA) 68-67-69-68
276 – Nakarintra Ratanakul (THA) 65-70-74-67, Choo Tze Huang (SIN) 72-66-69-69
277 – Pravee Visalkit (THA) 65-73-70-69
278 – Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 68-67-75-68, Khor Kheng Hwai 71-67-71-69, Piya Swangarunporn (THA) 67-70-69-72
279 – Airil Rizman Zahari 71-71-71-66, Mike Bibat (PHI) 69-70-72-68, William Sjaichudin (INA) 71-69-71-68, Thammanoon Sriroj (THA) 72-67-68-72