KUALA LUMPUR: Gavin Kyle Green paid homage to his late grandfather by winning his maiden Asian Tour title at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters on Sunday.
After finishing runner-up three times this year, Green closed with a one-under-par 71 to pull off a stylish two-shot victory at the Taiwan Golf and Country Club.
He finished with a winning total of nine-under-par 279 to defeat his closest challengers Adilson Da Silva (69) of Brazil, Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent (70), South African (71) and former Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Juvic Pagunsan (74) of the Philippines.
Success was bittersweet for Green who suffered a double heartbreak in Korea two weeks ago. He narrowly finished second at the Shinhan Donghae Open before finding out that his paternal grandfather, Gerald Green, had passed on from a heart attack.
“It is a bit overwhelming to be honest with you. Part of it is because my grandfather played a huge part in my life and he wanted to see me win. I think his death pushed me to try harder and win. He was definitely with me today,” said the 23-year-old, who is the fifth Malaysian after Danny Chia, Airil Rizman, Ben Leong and Nicholas Fung to win on the region’s premier Tour.
The former University of New Mexico standout overcame a mid-round wobble to pull away from Horne and Vincent.
“I bogeyed hole nine and 10 because of poor tee shots but I told myself that I was still in it. I stayed patient and took my chances. I hit it to seven feet on the 13th hole but missed my eagle putt. I gave myself a lot of looks so that was good.
Green held his nerve to hold a crucial six-feet birdie on the 16th hole before making an all important up-and-down for par from the bunker on 17 to cruise to victory as his rivals faded.
“When I got to 16 I thought of playing the safe game but my caddy and I decided to stick to the game plan and got up and down for birdie. That was a huge birdie. I wasn’t confident with my line so I backed off and went with it.
“I didn’t know what the score was on 18. I knew I was close so I stayed to my game plan. While I was walking up the 18th green, I saw that I had a nice lead,” added the big-hitting Malaysian, who took home a prize purse of US$160,00 for his victory.
Green overtakes Scott Hend of Australia as the Order of Merit leader with earnings of US$527,346 and is now in the running to become the first Malaysian to win the accolade.
It was a good week for all four Malaysians in the field, with Leong claiming a share of seventh on three-under par, Fung in T16 on one-over while Chia bounced back strongly to finish 22nd three-over.
Leading final results (Par-72)
279 – GAVIN KYLE GREEN 67-70-71-71
281 – Adilson Da Silva (BRA) 71-68-73-69, Scott Vincent (ZIM) 69-76-66-70, Keith Horne (RSA) 70-68-72-71, Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 68-69-70-74
283 – Danthai Boonma (THA) 68-72-71-72.
285 – Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 68-72-75-70, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 73-73-69-70, Arjun Atwal (IND) 73-71-70-71, BEN LEONG 71-69-71-74
286 – Settee Prakongvech (THA) 65-73-78-70
Other Malaysians in action
289 – NICHOLAS FUNG 70-75-71-73
291 – DANNY CHIA 71-75-75-70