Rawang [SELANGOR]: Keeping the best for the last, Arie Irawan won for the first time on Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour in nearly three years at the season-ending Maybank Players’ Championship on Saturday.
The 27-year-old broke a title drought dating back to the Harvard Championship in January 2015 by firing a final round seven-under 65 to finish on 10-under 278 at Templer Park Country Club.
Arie came back from a shot down to win by two strokes from overnight leader Kemarol Baharin, who closed with a gutsy four-under 68 in the RM275,000 Tour Championship.
A round of 67 saw Shahriffuddin Ariffin finish strongly in third on 282 – becoming the youngest player in the history of the PGM Tour to win the season-long Order of Merit title.
Jeremiah Kim Leun Kwang, who led the tournament after the first two rounds, was a further two shots back in fourth with Nachimuthu Ramasamy rounding off the top five with a 285 aggregate.
Leading final results (Par-72)
278 – Arie Irawan 73-70-70-65
280 – Kemarol Baharin 72-69-71-68
282 – Shahriffuddin Ariffin 75-70-70-67
284 – Jeremiah Kim Leun-kwang 68-72-75-69
285 – Nachimuthu Ramasamy 72-69-74-70
288 – Kenneth Tobuse 72-73-73-70
289 – Irfan Yusoff 75-72-73-69, Kenneth De Silva 73-71-74-71
290 – Alex Tiong 71-73-75-71
291 – Wafiyuddin Abdul Manaf 75-72-70-74
287 – Ainil Johani Abu Bakar 75-69-73-70
289 – Nur Durriyah Damian 75-71-71-72
299 – Michele Low 71-78-74-76
Arie carded eight birdies in a dazzling shot-making display with his only blemish of the day coming at the par-three 16. By then, the former national had a good enough advantage to stave off any last minute fight-backs.
“I found my momentum early on, just hit my drives really well and made some good short putts to get off to a good start. The birdie on eight was crucial because it got me level with Kemarol.
“It just happened that he dropped a shot on the ninth and I got into a run with a string of three consecutive gains at the turn to have a five-shot cushion. From that point, I just kept the ball in play and limit the mistakes,” he said.
The win comes at an ideal time for the promising lad, who has struggled with injuries and indifferent form in recent years, as he looks to re-build his brittle confidence.
“It’s been a real grind since that really good spell in 2015 when I won two Asian Development Tour events in three months. It’s been a long process – you struggle for so long and you try so hard, to the point when you’re not there and you start to have all these self doubts. But I kept fighting, pushing hard and I worked hard on improving key aspects on my game and it paid off today,” added Arie, who secured a start in the Maybank Championship from February 1-4, 2018.
He added that he was also looking forward to participating in the Asian Tour Qualifying School and the PGA China Tour Qualifying School next month.