Rush to the fore, cakewalk for Winnie

Mike Casper|The ClubHouse
Winnie Ng and Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi add their names to an illustrious list of TSM Golf Challenge winners

KUALA LUMPUR: National stablemates Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi and Winnie Ng Yu Xuan emerged as the girls’ and boys’ champions respectively at the 11th staging of the TSM Golf Challenge on Thursday.

Victories ensured that the pair – who won in contrasting fashion – join an illustrious list of previous champions including the Green siblings – Gavin and Green, Kelly Tan and Ainil Johani Abu Bakar.

Winnie was in a class of her own as she cruised to an unchallenged 12-stroke win while Rhaasrikanesh went the extra mile, needing two playoff holes to see off challenger Muhammad Ikhmal Basry.

With rounds of 69, 70 and 67, Winnie strolled to an impressive seven-under-par 206 total at TPC Kuala Lumpur’s East Course. Liyana Durisic was a distant runner-up on 218, edging Johorean Ashley Goh on countback.

“I wasn’t expecting to win as I’ve been hitting the books instead of practising, but I certainly wanted to give it a go,” said Winnie, who is preparing for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examinations in May.

“You just have to see the list of winners over the last decade to know why I wanted to win this tournament that much and I’m delighted to be in that special group,” added the 18-year-old, who received a golf scholarship worth RM20,000.

Rhaasrikanesh erased a three-shot overnight deficit to Ikhmal with a closing 70 to set the clubhouse target at one-over.

But the latter was not done as he sensationally holed out from the bunker for a par save on the closing hole of regulation play, signing for a 73 to force extra holes.

In a shootout between two former national champions, both players traded bogeys on the first extra hole at the long par-four 18th before Rhaasrikanesh stepped up with a curling birdie from 20 feet to settle the contest thrillingly.

“This win is a big redemption for me personally, having missed out narrowly on the Malaysian Games (SUKMA) gold medal last year. It was a big ask, but I rallied strongly to give myself a chance today. But my determination shone through at the end, and I’m proud with the way I stood tall in the play-off,” added the 18-year-old, who picked up an RM25,000 scholarship.

LEADING FINAL RESULTS (PAR-71)
MEN
217 – Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi 77-70-70, Muhd Ikhmal Basry 73-71-73
Rhaasrikanesh wins with a birdie of the second play-off hole
220 – Adam Arif Madzri 75-77-68
221 – Syady Sheikh Ismail 73-75-73, Zubair Mohd Firdaus 74-74-73
222 – Aqil Afif Rosli 73-74-75
224 – Nor Harith Nor Hadi 79-73-72, Poon Jia Hao 75-75-74, Hadi Irfan Rahaizah 79-71-74, Zia Iqmal Abdul Rashid 76-71-77

LADIES
206 – Winnie Ng Yu Xuan 69-70-67
218 – Liyana Durisic 73-74-71, Ashley Goh 70-71-77
221 – Zulaikah Nurziana Nasser 74-72-75
222 – Vinisha Gunaseelan 78-72-72
223 – Foong Zi Yu 78-73-72
225 – Maisarah Muhd Hezri 73-76-76
227 – Sarah Madzri 80-74-73
230 – Nur Maisara Sa’ad 80-75-75
233 – Angel Hii 78-75-80