Fraser pounces at the end

Youth and Sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin presenting the Maybank Championship Malaysia trophy to Marcus Fraser as Maybank chairman Tan Sri Dato' Megat Zaharuddin Megat Nor watches on ©Mike Casper|TCH

KUALA LUMPUR: Australian Marcus Fraser curled home a clutch 18-foot par putt on the last green to lift the inaugural US$3 million Maybank Championship Malaysia by two shots on Sunday at the expense of a heartbroken Soomin Lee of Korea.

Fraser trailed overnight leader Lee throughout the final round at a sun-kissed Royal Selangor Golf Club before taking full advantage of his young rival’s late collapse to claim a third European Tour victory in the event co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour.

The 37-year-old Aussie, who also ended a frustrating six-year title drought, signed off with a three-under-par 68 for a 15-under-par 279 winning total, earning him a champion’s cheque of US$500,000 along with the magnificent Maybank Championship Malaysia trophy.

Baby-faced Lee, 24, led by three at the start of the day and looked very much in control until a double bogey on the 16th following an errant drive allowed Fraser to draw level. Tied heading into the final hole, the Korean missed his long par attempt on the last green before watching Fraser drain his putt.

Lee then failed to convert his return putt for an eventual six and a closing 73 which left him tied for second place with Filipino Miguel Tabuena, who closed with a solid 68.

Leading final results (Par-71) >
269 – Marcus Fraser (AUS) 66-69-66-68
271 – Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 66-68-69-68, Soomin Lee (KOR) 66-68-64-73
272 – Julien Quesne (FRA) 70-69-65-68, Jorge Campillo (ESP) 65-69-69-69
273 – Richard Bland (ENG) 66-65-73-69, Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 70-69-65-69
274 – Nathan Holman (AUS) 64-65-73-72
275 – Peter Uihlein (USA) 65-75-69-66, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 68-72-67-68, Masahiro Kawamura (JPN) 66-70-67-72
276 – Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 67-70-73-66, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 71-68-68-69, Miko Ilonen (FIN) 71-69-64-72

“Unbelievable,” said Fraser, who also shot to the top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit after taking up membership at the start of the week.

“Six years since the last one … My kids keep saying every time I walk out the door ‘hey dad, can you bring home a trophy? And I’ll say I’ll try, I’ll try and this time I’ll take one home and I’ll get them to take it to school for show and tell. It’s going to be pretty cool. That’s the main reason why I wanted to win.”

“On the last, I don’t know how I got that one to go in. I was very nervous and looking down on the putt, I could see my putter shaking. But I just said to myself that this is one opportunity for me to win and I took a few deep breaths and holed the putt. That’s a pretty special feeling, that’s for sure. It’s nice. Words just can’t describe the way I feel.”

A teary-eyed Lee was disappointed with his late wobble which denied him a maiden victory but preferred to take in the positives after contending at the Maybank Championship Malaysia.

“This week is very good for my golf life but I’m a little bit disappointed. But it is okay because I have many more tournaments to try and win. I have three top-10s in three events now, so it is okay,” said Lee, whose US$260,565 runner-up cheque pushed him up to third place on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.

“Holes 16, 17 and 18 are very important on this course. I was very nervous and felt pressured. I missed some short putts and that’s why I finished second. I still have one more tournament in Perth next week, so I hope to play well again.”

The 21-year-old Tabuena was delighted to finish joint runner-up after struggling with food poisoning in the opening two days. He was only one of six players who birdied the closing hole, which earned him his career best pay day of US$260,565.

“Not being 100%, no complaints at all. It kind of helped that I wasn’t in the final group, it took some pressure off. Unfortunately, I bogeyed 17 but I came back to birdie 18. I was told it almost went in for an eagle,” said the young Filipino.

“I won’t say that this is my biggest achievement but this is certainly my biggest pay cheque so far. I’m really happy with the way I played and I can’t wait for next week,” added Tabuena, who moved up to second place on the latest Merit rankings.