Slick Siva victorious in Ayer Keroh

Ayer Keroh, Melaka; June 12: Another slick display of cowgrass prowess saw S. Sivachandhran triumphing in the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Melaka Classic today.

The 32-year-old Alor Setar native shot a closing 71 for a two-stroke victory over the trio of Haziq Hamizan, M. Sasidaran and Filipino Artemio Murakami  in the RM180,000 Asian Development Tour event.

Buoyed by the presence of his wife on the ropes, the reigning Asian Development Tour Order of Merit winner recorded his first win since the Negeri Sembilan Masters Invitational 2010, which was then an ADT event.

Siva picked up the winner’s cheque of RM31,500 and received a further RM5,000 from PGM chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid for emerging the first local winner after three ADT stops in Malaysia this year.

Siva, who was tied for the lead on seven-under par with Murakami and Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Chia-jen coming into the final round, made a cautious start, making the turn on 35 alongside the flu-ridden Hsu, who was clearly struggling in the heat as the round progressed.

A clinical birdie on the 13th by Siva saw the Malaysian open up a two-shot lead over the Taiwanese, who proceeded to drop consecutive shots on the 14th and 15th to fall out of contention.

Murakami, who had slipped off the radar after missing a string of birdie opportunities early on, showed signs of life with a birdie on the 16th but a bogey on the finishing hole saw him settle for a 73 and a share of second place alongside Sasidaran and Haziq, who had set the clubhouse lead at six-under-par after a round of 70 today.

Siva considered himself lucky to have won the event, considering that he finished the tournament with a bogey on the final hole. “I’m very happy and proud with this win. It’s been quite a struggle for me this year and this nice sum will surely come in handy,” said Siva, who’s best finish so far this year was tied eighth at PGM Penang Classic last month.

“I already put in my mind that it was going to be challenging round. I had set myself to play three-under today with the winning score coming around ten-under-par. I didn’t achieve that target, so I’m quite disappointed with myself.

“Despite my friends telling me that I had three-shot cushion at one point, I didn’t allow it to affect my concerntration and I badly wanted to par the hole. I’m lucky as my rivals dropped shots along the way. I’m thankful because had this been a stronger field, that sort of bogey on the final hole can cost you big time,” admitted the slight-built professional.

“Overall, I was steady of the tees all week, I only missed less than five fairways all week, so I’m satisfied with the way I played,” he added, noting that he quickly acclimatised to the cowgrass layout at Ayer Keroh.

Haziq was equally delighted with best finish in his professional career. “There’s a lot of positives I can take back from this week and I feel great,” said the former national trainee, who joined the paid ranks in 2009.

Despite feeling disappointed with his finish, Sasidaran was pleased with the consistency he has shown on the local circuit this year. “I have a string of top-five finishes so far his year to show and in most instances, the differences in scores have been very close. I’m just going to maintain my performance and wait for my time to be on top,” said Sasidaran.

The PGM Melaka Classic was the eighth leg of the burgeoning Professional Golf of Malaysia Tour. The tour’s next top will be at ClearWater Sanctuary Resort for the RM125,000 PGM Perak Classic from June 20-23.

Leading fourth round scores
280 – S.Sivachandhran 73-66-70-71
282 – Haziq Hamizan 72-71-69-70, M.Sasidaran 70-68-73-71, Artemio Murakami (PHI) 73-67-69-73
283 – Nicholas Fung 72-70-72-69, Airil Rizman 70-73-71-69, Takafumi Kawane (JPN) 70-68-73-72, Hsu Chia-jen (TPE) 68-69-72-74
284 – Lin Kuan-po (TPE) 71-71-70-72, Mohd Iylia Jamil 68-72-70-74
285 – Gavin Flint (AUS) 72-74-72-67, Pongthep Jaewchumnanchao (THA) 68-71-72-74
287 – John Shin (CAN) 75-73-74-65, Will Yanagisawa (USA) 72-72-73-70
288 – Danny Chia 73-71-71-73