Samui breakthrough for Fung

Nicholas Fung with the Queen's Cup ©Paul Lakatos|Asian Tour via Getty Images

KUALA LUMPUR: Nicholas Fung overcame nerves to secure a maiden Asian Tour title at the Queen’s Cup on Sunday – dedicating the career breakthrough to his father.

The 27-year-old Fung, who was the overnight leader, courageously holed a four-foot par putt on the 18th hole at Santiburi Samui Country Club for a closing four-under-par 67 and a one-stroke triumph over Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond.

His impressive 15-under-par 269 winning aggregate saw him join countrymen Danny Chia, Airil Rizman and Ben Leong as winners on the region’s premier Tour.

Jazz kept on Fung’s coattail throughout a frenetic last day, staying bogey free for the second successive round at a tricky Santiburi Samui to shoot a 66 while Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao birdied his last three holes for a 67 which gave him third place, two behind the new champion.

269 – NICHOLAS FUNG 66-68-68-67
270 – Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 67-72-65-66
271 – Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 66-71-67-67
272 – Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 68-67-68-69
273 – Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 70-63-70-70
275 – Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 65-70-71-69, Rashid Khan (IND) 65-70-70-70, Angelo Que (PHI) 65-70-69-71
276 – Jbe Kruger (RSA) 70-78-71-67, DANNY CHIA 69-68-67-72

Fung En Ping celebrates with his son after latter’s maiden Asian Tour win ©Paul Lakatos|Asian Tour via Getty Images

The slightly-built Fung paid tribute to his father, En Ping, who was with him on the holiday isle to witness the winning moment.

“I started even par on the front nine but managed to shoot four under on the back nine and managed to get a win. It was very exciting. It’s my first win and I’ve been waiting for this for quite some time. I’m very happy. And also it’s the best day to win as it’s Father’s Day. It’s the best gift I can give to my dad (Fung En Ping).

“He’s taught me a lot since I was young. He brought me to the golf course, taught me how to be a better golfer and how to be a confident person to face the future. I just followed his advice and thanks to him, he guided me all the way until today to win this tournament. I’m sure he’s very happy. We did it on the right day,” said the Sabahan.

With Jazz, this season’s Bangladesh Open winner, setting the clubhouse mark on 14-under with birdies on 17 and 18, Fung needed to stay calm to claim victory.

The Malaysian chipped in for birdie on 16 from off the green and then nailed a radar-guided wedge to two feet for another birdie on 17 which kept his nose ahead of the field.

“At 16, I chipped in for birdie and then I heard fans shouting on the 17th green which I kind of guessed that Jazz (Janewattananond) was making a birdie too. When I got to the 17th tee, I saw he had moved up to 14 under and I told myself that if I don’t birdie 17, I still have a chance to birdie 18 which is a par five for the win,” noted Fung.

“But we said let’s get a birdie on 17 which would make it easier for me to play the last hole which I managed to do. Hit a really good approach shot to about two feet on 17 (to keep his one shot lead).”

Fung contemplating whether to chip or putt his fourth shot on the 18th with his caddie Saiful (left) © Paul Lakatos|Asian Tour via Getty Images

After a pushed drive and an aggressive fourth shot from the back of the 18th green, Fung safely holed his par putt which earned him US$90,000.

“I was a bit nervous off the tee on 18th. I hit a bad drive to the right but luckily I managed to chip it out to my favourite distance for the third shot. I was a bit aggressive with my fourth and I was quite confident with the four footer coming back for par as I’ve been putting well throughout the week,” he added.

With the monkey finally off his back, a relieved Fung is eyeing multiple victories as he aims to better his 12th finish on the Asian Tour’s money list last year.

“It’s a new life for me now as at last, I’ve achieved a win. I’m now looking for the next win. I want to be a multiple winner. This win will take up me to about top-15 and my goal will be to break the top-10,” shared the three-time domestic Order of Merit winner.

Chia returned with a 72 to claim a share of ninth spot on 276 while Gavin Kyle Green was tied for 36th after signing for a 73.