Jittery Arie bags Harvard win

Arie Irawan ©Arep Kulal|PGM
Arie Irawan ©Arep Kulal|PGM

Sungai Petani [KEDAH]: Local hope Arie Irawan survived a late scare to win his second professional title after shooting a four-under-par 68 at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Sime Darby Harvard Championship on Saturday.

The 24-year-old made a crucial par save on the 16th hole from the rough after a poor drive to win by one stroke with an 18-under-par 270 total at the RM200,000 (approximately US$60,000) Asian Development Tour event.

Newcomer Sean Riordan of New Zealand and overnight leader Sukree Othman of Malaysia settled for tied second after returning with a 67 and 70 respectively to finish on 271 at the Harvard Golf and Country Club.

“I still feel a little nervous. I’m still shaking. I don’t know how I did it but I did it. I told myself to focus on my breathing. If I do that, then I can play well. I wanted to stay in the present and not think too far ahead,” said Arie.

Rated as one of the country’s most promising talents, Arie finished in sixth place on the ADT Order of Merit last year but earned an Asian Tour card for 2015 as Sattaya Supupramai, ranked fourth, finished inside the top-60 on the Asian Tour Merit list.

Arie got off to a fine start in the final round when he chipped in for eagle on the third hole. It was cancelled out by two bogeys but he held his nerve to romp home to victory with two birdies in each half.

The former national rode on his luck again when he was distracted on his downswing on the 16th hole. He escaped with a par but admits that three-foot putt was decisive in his victory.

“My tee shot almost went into the water but luckily it stayed in the rough. I got disturbed by the sound of a fluttering banner just as I was on my downswing. That three-foot par putt was really nerve-wracking!” he explained.

He earned US$9,678 and six Official World Golf Ranking points for the win which will likely move him above Danny Chia and make him the highest placed Malaysian in the world rankings ahead of the Maybank Malaysian Open next week.

“I was looking at the world ranking and I was a few notches behind Danny Chia to be the highest ranked Malaysian in the world. It is very important for me because my goal is to push myself into the Olympics in 2016,” Arie explained.

Leading final round scores (Malaysian unless stated):
270 – Arie Irawan 63-71-68-68
271 – Sean Riordan (NZL) 70-68-66-67, Sukree Othman 70-65-66-70
273 -Mathiam Keyser (RSA) 70-65-69-69
274 – Oskar Arvidsson (SWE) 69-66-70-69
275 – Shaaban Hussin 70-70-69-66, MJ Daffue (RSA) 70-68-70-67, Danny Chia 69-68-67-71, Kemarol Baharin 70-69-64-72
276 – Terumichi Kakazu (JPN) 66-74-67-69, Masaru Takahashi (JPN) 69-69-67-71