Fung goes the distance for UMW crown

Nicholas Fung ©Arep Kulal|PGM Tour

KUALA LUMPUR: Nicholas Fung lifted a record 16th Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour title after prevailing in a three-way play-off against compatriot Gavin Green and Japan’s Masaru Takahashi at the UMW Championship on Saturday.

A bogey on his 72nd hole saw Fung close with a two-under-par 69 to drop into a play-off with Green and Masaru, who carded matching 70s, to  finish regulation play level on 12-under-par 272 at the TPC Kuala Lumpur’s East Course.

The reigning PGM Order of Merit champion emerged triumphant after converting a eight-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole – ending a barren run stretching back to his win at the I&P Matchplay Championship last August.

Green and Masaru, who had held a one-shot lead heading into the final round, bowed out with a par and a bogey respectively to settle for a share of second place in RM200,000 Asian Development Tour (ADT) co-sanctioned tournament.

272 – Nicholas Fung 66-68-69-69, Gavin Kyle Green 70-65-67-70, Masaru Takahashi (JPN) 67-68-67-70
Fung wins on the first play-off hole
273 – Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 72-67-70-64
274 – Nattawat Suvanajanakorn (THA) 70-70-68-66, Martin Dive (AUS) 69-69-72-64, Narutoshi Yamaoka (JPN) 71-66-69-68, Shariffuddin Ariffin 68-66-69-71
276 – Steve Lewton (ENG) 67-70-69-70
277 – Oscar Zetterwall (SWE) 70-72-69-66, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 69-67-72-69

Nicholas Fung celebrates his winning putt in extra time ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse

After a late blip saw him pipped to the title at the Port Dickson Championship a fortnight ago, Fung was determined not let the opportunity slip out of his hands again in the sudden-death play-off.

“It’s always great to return to winning ways. Two weeks ago, a late mistake cost me the victory at Port Dickson and I almost got undone today again with that closing bogey.

“I got ahead of myself on the 18 in regulation play. It was really gloomy out there and I wanted to finish before the rain comes. I rushed myself  and hit a wayward drive into the left rough, which led to a bogey.

“When I headed back to the 18 for the play-off, I told myself to just go for it. I had a good drive and I hit my second shot to within eight feet. I went all out with my putt and I’m glad to get the job done,” said the bespectacled Sabahan.

Fung overcame a sore arm and the lengthy weather suspensions to claim his third ADT crown. He had to play a total of 28 holes on Saturday due to earlier weather disruptions in the week.

“I am still feeling pain in the right arm but it’s getting better and I am slowly recovering. I was prepared for the weather suspensions actually, knowing the weather here. I just stayed patient. This win is a great confidence boost for me. I hope to carry on my good form onto the Asian Tour in the next two weeks,” added Fung, who took a winner’s prize purse of RM35,000.