Higa goes one better for UMW title

BN Murali|The ClubHouse
Kazuki Higa

Senai [JOHOR]: Japan’s Kazuki Higa secured his second Asian Development Tour (ADT) title with a superb seven-under-par 65 in the final round of the PGM UMW ADT Championship on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Higa finished tied-second at the Palm Resort Golf and Country Club last week but made sure he would not take another runner-up finish when he cruised to a six-shot victory at the same venue with his four-day winning total of 22-under-par 266.

Compatriot Naoki Sekito signed for a 67 to share second place with overnight leader Shintaro Kobayashi who closed with a disappointing 72 at the RM225,000 (approximately US$54,000) event.

Malaysian’s Ben Leong was the highest-placed local when he ended his campaign with a 72 to finish in tied-fourth with four other players.

Leading final results (Par-72)
266 – Kazuki Higa (JPN) 68-65-68-65
272 – Naoki Sekito (JPN) 69-67-69-67, Shintaro Kobayashi (JPN) 71-67-62-72
275 – JooHyung Kim (KOR) 68-70-68-69, Suttijet Kooratanapisan (THA) 68-66-70-71, BEN LEONG 65-69-69-72, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 69-69-71-66, Kwanchai Tannin (THA) 71-70-67-67
276 – Kasidit Lepkurta (THA) 70-69-68-69, Kerry Sweeney (USA) 67-66-71-72
278 – Wang Wei Lun (TPE) 66-71-74-67, Reo Hiruta (JPN) 68-68-69-73, Mardan Mamat (SGP) 69-74- 68-67, Miguel Carballo (ARG)70-68-70-70, Ryan Trover (USA 70-70-70-68, Dodge Kemmer (USA) 71-70-70- 67, SHAIFUBARI MUDA 70-70-67-71

Starting the day one shot off the pace, Higa dropped a shot on his second hole but recovered quickly with a birdie on hole three. He went on to nail birdies on holes six, eight and nine to make the turn in 33.

“I wasn’t happy with how I was hitting it yesterday so I did some work at the range after my game and it really helped my round today. I stayed consistent and was hitting shots exactly how I wanted to,” said Higa, who claimed his maiden ADT victory last April in Bangladesh.

The Japanese trusted his abilities and extended his advantage with further birdies on holes 11, 12, 16 and 18 for a 32 in his homeward nine.

“I knew I was so close to getting a win last week and that really gave me the motivation I needed to get the job done today. I just told myself to trust myself and not think about how other people were playing,” added Higa, who moved up to third place on the Merit rankings.