Maiden win sends Jeremiah to CIMB Classic

KUALA LUMPUR: A battling Jeremiah Kim Leunkwang claimed a play-off victory over Amir Nazrin Jailani at the CIMB National Championship on Friday, securing his maiden professional title and a dream appearance at the US$7 million CIMB Classic.

The 23-year-old Kim, who led by three shots after the second and third rounds, survived some anxious moments during the final round as he was caught by Amir who forced extra time with a four-under-par 67 as both golfers tied on 12-under-par 272 at the East Course of TPC Kuala Lumpur.

Both golfers found trouble with their tee shots on the par four 18th hole and Kim, who shot a closing 70, emerged victorious with a bogey against Amir’s double bogey after the latter agonisingly three-putted from about 15 feet.

“This means a lot to me,” said Kim, who bagged RM30,000 for his win. “I’ve been looking for my first win for a very long time and I finally did it. It was crazy … Amir played really well and gave me a good fight. I’m a bit brain-dead right now and I guess I was on the lucky side. it’s not easy to see a golfer three-putting from close range. I feel for him but I’m happy I’m going to be playing in the CIMB Classic.

“In the playoff, I saw Amir hit it over the green and I was worse off in the trees and had to cut the ball by some 30 yards or otherwise I’d be out of bounds. I pulled it off and I’m really happy to be the last man standing.

Jeremiah, who turned professional when he was 17, said that securing his professional breakthrough and the chance to play at the CIMB Classic was amazing.

“It has taken me a long time to get this win and there were some struggles over the years but I knew it would come someday. I’m really happy now,” he added.

It was heartbreak for the second straight year for Amir, who finished third in the CIMB National Championship last year. He turned in 33 to reduce Kim’s lead to one and then caught his rival on the 16th hole with his sixth birdie of the day. However, he missed his opportunity with mistakes in the playoff.

“It’s about luck once you get into a playoff. I would have done the same thing over again. I made a silly mistake on the green … can’t say anything about that now. There was also a stone under my ball in the bunker and the first putt was just too firm. It didn’t quite work out for me and I have to accept it,” said Amir.