KAJANG [Selangor]: Kemarol Baharin bounced back brilliantly from a run of wretched results to claim his maiden ASEAN PGA Tour title at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) UMW Impian Championship on Saturday.
A solid final round of four-under 68 secured a comfortable victory for Kemarol, who finished three strokes clear of the Thai pair of Settee Prakongvech (68) and Sutijet Kooratanapisan (70), on 17-under-271 overall.
Joint second round leader Natthapong Niyomchon (70) was a further shot back in fourth while seasoned campaigner R. Nachimuthu failed to follow up on his sizzling rounds of 66s midway through the tournament, settling for a frustrating even-par 72 at the Impian Golf & Country Club.
That effort left him in a share of fifth place alongside Thailand’s Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (73) on 12-under 276.
Further back, Shaaban Hussin stole the thunder as he equalled the course record, carding a bogey-free 10-under 62 to lift himself up to seventh.
Following two consecutive missed cuts in Terengganu and Rahman Putra, Kemarol was delighted with his turn of fortunes.
“I’m really glad for myself. At the turn today, I told my caddie that we had nothing to lose and just charge all the way. That mindset helped as I recovered from a quiet front nine with three successive birdies through #13. I conceded a shot on the #16 but birdied the very next hole to keep the competition at bay,” said the 29-year-old.
“I have been striking the ball well but my short game and putting has been letting me down. After Rahman Putra, I decided to take a week’s break from golf and it did me good. I took some putting tips from [MST Golf director of instruction] Dean Hartman earlier this week and it helped with my confidence on the greens.
“The goal was to go all out this week and I was fortunate to have a couple of lucky breaks that worked in my favour,” added Kemarol, who moves behind frontrunner Danny Chia on the Order of Merit list with a total of RM82,091.
Leading final round scores (Par-72) >
(Malaysian unless stated)
271 – Kemarol Baharin 67-69-67-68
274 – Settee Prakongvech (THA) 72-65-69-68, Suitjet Kooratanapisan (THA) 69-67-68-70
275 – Natthapong Niyomchon (THA) 73-64-68-70
276 – R. Nachimuthu 72-66-66-72, Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (THA) 69-65-69-73
277 – Shaaban Hussin 73-69-73-62
278 – Pipatpong Naewsuk (THA) 71-69-69-69
280 – Mohd Rizal Amin 70-70-69-71
281 – Tanatchan Puaktes (THA) 70-73-68-70, Airil Rizman Zahari 68-73-68-72