Maiden ASEAN PGA crown for Eng Seng

Lim Eng Seng ©Muralidharan Nair|The ClubHouse
Lim Eng Seng ©Muralidharan Nair|The ClubHouse

Port Dickson [NEGERI SEMBILAN]: Lim Eng Seng celebrated a return to winning form with a hard-earned play-off victory over seasoned campaigner Sukree Othman at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) ASEAN PGA PD Championship on Saturday.

The 32-year-old went the distance before tapping in for a birdie on the third extra hole to see-off his compatriot after both players had finished regulation play tied on eight-under 267 at the Port Dickson Golf & Country Club.

Three strokes off the lead at the start of the final round, Lim returned with five birdies and a single bogey for a round of four-under 67, thanks to a performance that even the late Seve Ballesteros would have been proud off.

Thrice he pulled off remarkable saves from the rough, especially on the 17th when he drained a monstrous 60-foot birdie after an exquisite approach shot from behind a tree to set the clubhouse target.

Sukree, hunting for his sixth domestic Tour title, took the tournament into extra holes thanks to a final round 69 that included key birdies at the 14th and 16th.

One shot of the pace was former national Mohd Azman Basharuddin, who recorded his best finish of the season with a closing 67 to finish in a equal third alongside Thailand’s Natthapong Niyomchon (70).

Meanwhile, overnight leader Kenneth De Silva made a nightmarish start with bogeys at the first and third holes and did not register a birdie until the last. He carded a 72 and finished in joint fifth place with Thailand’s Pipatpong Naewsuk (70).

Lim shared that he was inspired by watching a video of Australian professional Geoff Ogilvy, who jump-started his own slumping career with a win on the PGA Tour two months back.

“[It] hasn’t sunken in yet I suppose. It’s been four years since I last won and honestly, I was starting to get a little frustrated with my stagnant form and indifferent results over the last two years. I will describe it as a revival of sorts and to finally win on the ASEAN PGA Tour after having led the inaugural event [the International Championship] in Indonesia all those years back in 2007, it feels really good and credit goes to the hard work I’ve put in,” said Lim, who moves to fifth on the Road to Sabah Masters thanks to his RM28,900 (US$9,031) cheque.

“Felt comfortable all week as I came into the tournament positively and having just played here a couple of weeks ago, I knew what I had to do. Kept it simple and even when I got into trouble today, I stayed calm and pulled off some great saves. It wasn’t until I birdied the 17th that it dawned on me that I probably had a decent chance of winning this,” he added.

Both players birdied the first playoff hole and parred the second before Lim broke the deadlock with a birdie to Sukree’s par at the third extra hole.

“I expected Sukree to birdie the last hole in regulation but he didn’t and that meant we had a 50-50 chance going into extra holes. I was a little under pressure on the second hole after Sukree it put it close but to beat one of the Tour’s most consistent player in the end, it’s quite an achievement,” noted Lim, who hails from one of Malaysia’s most illustrious golfing families.

Leading final round scores (Malaysian unless stated):

276 – Lim Eng Seng 69-68-72-67, Mohd Sukree Othman 69-69-69-69
277 – Mohd Azman Basharudin 69-71-70-67, Natthapong Niyomchon(THA) 70-73-65-69
278 – Pipatpong Naewsuk(THA) 64-73-71-70, Kenneth De Silva 68-68-70-72
279 – Khor Kheng Hwai 72-69-74-64, Tanatchan Puaktes (THA)72-67-69-71, Ratchapol Jantavara (THA) 68-69-70-72
280 – Varan Israbhakdi(THA) 70-70-70-70, Kurnia Herishandy(INA) 71-69-69-71