Kitayama clinches ADT breakthrough

PGM Tour chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid with champion Kurt Kitayama [right] ©Arep Kulal|PGM Tour

Alor Setar [KEDAH]: American Kurt Kitayama completed a stunning wire-to-wire victory at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Darulaman Championship to win his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) title on Saturday.

The 25-year-old rookie closed with a two-under-par 70 to defeat a relentless John Catlin, who settled for second place at the RM225,000 (approximately US$55,000) ADT event.

Thailand’s Donlaphatchai Niyomchon finished third following a 71 while Nitithorn Thippong, also from Thailand, carded a 67 to settle for fourth place on 277.

It was a dramatic final day where Kitayama’s five-shot lead was erased by a battling Catlin, who fired three birdies and a 10-foot eagle putt on the 10th hole to draw level with his countryman.

Kitayama, who finished tied-3rd in Qualifying School in January, responded with clutch birdie putts on holes 16 and 18 to secure his first title in Asia with a winning total of 21-under-par 267.

Kurt Kitayama ©Arep Kulal|PGM Tour

“Before hole 10 I felt tight all around and it got to all square, after hole 11 I finally felt more relaxed and was loosening up. I still wasn’t making good shots but I was making good pars and good saves. I was on a cold stretch where I wasn’t giving myself a lot of good looks. I just told myself to stay patient since I still had a lot of golf left and I just needed to give myself more opportunities along the way,” said Kitayama.

After playing two years on the Tour, Kitayama was delighted to taste success in Asia. He pocketed US$10,096 for his victory.

“I’ve been excited for the schedule I’m hoping to get some sponsor invites after this if not I’ll just have a break after this to go home and just relax. I am hoping to get one of the earlier starts like New Zealand or Perth if not then I think I’ll take a good break,” added Kitayama.

John Catlin ©Arep Kulal|PGM Tour

Two-time ADT winner John Catlin prides himself on his solid ball-striking this week to finish with a career best four-day tournament total of 269.

“I gave it my all. Hole 10 was when it got real. Making that eagle putt just gave me a good chance. Other than a miss hit on hole 12 I played some phenomenal golf today. I was so close, just kept telling myself to keep going. I had a birdie putt on every single hole on the back nine. It was great playing with Kurt he’s a good player, hits the ball miles and you could have sizzled my steak medium rare on his putter the last two days,” said Catlin.

Mohammad Wafiyuddin, who fired a brillaint closing effort of 64, finished as Malaysia’s top-placed player in the field, in seventh place on 281.

Leading final results (Par-72)
267 – Kurt Kitayama(USA) 63-70-64-70
269 – John Catlin (USA) 68-68-66-69
276 – Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (THA) 71-69-65-71
277 – Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 68-73-69-67
278 – Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 68-72-69-69
280 – Kwanchai Tannin (THA) 70-69-69-72
282 – Thepbodin Amaranan (THA)74-68-74-66, KEMAROL BAHARIN 71-72-72-67,Thanpisit Omsin (THA) 72-70-70-70
283 Shinichi Mizuno (JPN) 70-69-73-71, Justin De Los Santos (USA) 74-70-68-71, Brett Munson (USA) 71-69-72-71, KIISHAAN THARMALINGAM 73-67-70-73, Oscar Zetterwall (SWE) 70-70-68-75