Johor duo dominate 2019 season-opener

Raihan Talib|PGM Tour
Kelly Tan (right) with fellow Johorean Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz

Kangar [PERLIS]: Kelly Tan got her 2019 season off to a positive start when she clinched her professional breakthrough at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Perlis Championship on January 19.

The Symetra Tour regular, who is on an extended break at home, secured a wire-to-wire victory in her maiden appearance on the domestic circuit.

The 25-year-old negotiated the wind-swept Putra Golf Club with rounds of 67, 75 and consecutive 72s to finish four strokes clear of Michelle Koh on two-under 286. Ainil Johani Abu Bakar completed the women’s podium in third on the back of a 294 overall.

286 – Kelly Tan 67-75-72-72
290 – Michelle Koh 75-67-73-75
294 – Ainil Johani Abu Bakar 72-72-77-73
296 – Nur Durriyah Damian 73-75-75-73
297 – Aretha Pan Herng 73-76-72-76

Tan, who remains only the second Malaysian to ply her trade on the LPGA, was excited to be back in the winning circle.

“My first win as a professional! It’s been an amazing week here in Perlis even if playing here wasn’t part of my initial plans. The girls were like “Come and join us!” and I thought it would be a good idea to shake off the cobwebs and get some competitive rounds in early in the year,” noted Tan, who took home RM11,000.

“I had a great start with the opening 67 and just kept the momentum going. The swirling breeze made it a bit harder to score towards the tail-end of the tournament, but overall, I can’t complain – my game was solid and this week was a great confidence-booster.”

The Rio Olympian will only be flying back to the United States in March to start her pre-season training with coach Gary Gilchrist but not before making a bow on the small screens.

“I was offered a chance to be part of Cinderella Story of KLPGA – a reality television show which awards the winner with starts on the Korean LPGA. It’s going to be a fun experience in front of the cameras, and hopefully, I’ll get lucky. My plans this year is to build back my confidence and continue my pursuit to gain full status on the LPGA again.”


Daeng Abdul Rahman Abd Aziz ©Raihan Talib|PGM Tour

On the men’s front, Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz capped a remarkable return from injury as he wrapped up a ten-stroke victory in the RM200,000 tournament.

Having been sidelined for much of last season due to a niggling wrist injury, Daeng showed little rustiness as he sealed his third Tour title – and first since April 2017.

Even a final round of 76 could not derail the Johorean as he eased to victory on four-under 284. Daeng’s former national stablemate Amir Nazrin Jailani was a distant second while veteran Nachimuthu Ramasamy and Kenneth De Silva shared tied third on 295.

284 – Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz 72-66-70-76
294 – Amir Nazrin Jailani 72-75-74-73
295 – Nachimuthu Ramasamy 71-76-75-73, Kenneth De Silva 74-71-75-75
297 – Wilson Choo 73-76-74-74
298 – Kenneth Tobuse 71-73-72-82
299 – Jeremiah Kim Leun-kwang 77-77-74-71
230 – Sasidaran Muthiah 77-76-72-75, Sukree Othman 80-71-73-76, Zurie Harun 73-71-80-76
231 – Amli Mohiyadeen 76-74-73-78, Azry Asyraf 74-76-73-78

Daeng went low in the second and third rounds, totaling eight-under to blow away the competition.

“I had a simple goal coming into 2019, and that was being able to play pain-free but this week has been over and above my expectations. I’ve been playing well since the Players’ Championship in December, but everything clicked here in Perlis. It’s good to get a win in the bag so early in the season,” said Daeng, who turns 19 in April.

“I think the second round 66 made a difference because everybody else was struggling in the high winds and I made my chances count. With an eight-shot lead coming into the final round, I just played some cautious golf and got the job done.”

The domestic Tour heads to Darulaman Golf & Country in Kedah for its next stop from February 20-23.