Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung overcame nerves to secure a maiden Asian Tour title at the Queen’s Cup on Sunday, and dedicated the career breakthrough to his father.
The 27-year-old Fung, who was the overnight leader, courageously holed a four-foot par putt on the 18th hole at Santiburi Samui Country Club for a closing four-under-par 67 and a one-stroke triumph over Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond.
His impressive 15-under-par 269 winning aggregate saw him join countrymen Danny Chia, Airil Rizman and Ben Leong as winners on the region’s premier Tour. Fung is also the fifth first-time winner this season.
Jazz, 21, kept on Fung’s coattail throughout a frenetic last day, staying bogey free for the second successive round at a tricky Santiburi Samui to shoot a 66 while Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao birdied his last three holes for a 67 which gave him third place, two behind the new champion.
The slightly-built Fung paid tribute to his father, En Ping, who was with him on the holiday isle on what was also Father’s Day on Sunday around the world. With Jazz, this season’s Bangladesh Open winner, setting the clubhouse mark on 14-under with birdies on 17 and 18, Fung needed to stay calm to claim victory.
The Malaysian chipped in for birdie on 16 from off the green and then nailed a radar-guided wedge to two feet for another birdie on 17 which kept his nose ahead of the field. After a pushed drive and an aggressive fourth shot from the back of the 18th green, Fung safely holed his par putt which earned him US$90,000.
Did you Know?
- This was Fung’s 66th start on the Asian Tour. He previously finished runner-up at 2013 Indonesian Open, 2015 World Classic in Singapore and 2016 Resorts World Manila Masters.
- Fung earned US$90,000 to move up to 13th place on the Order of Merit with US$122,007. He finished 12th on the Merit list last year for his best career finish yet.
- In the final round which he led by one at the start of the day, Fung bogeyed his second hole to fall out of the lead before making birdies on six, 10, 11, 16 and 17 for his one-shot victory. His winning score of 15-under-par 269 matched last year’s winning score by Scott Hend of Australia and was one shot higher than the tournament record held by Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand (2009).
- In eight tournaments prior this season, Fung did not post a top-10, with a tied 22nd at Yeangder Heritage in Taipei being his best. He finished seventh in the Queen’s Cup last year and tied 12th in 2013. He missed the cut in 2015 and 2014.
- Jazz produced his second-best finish of the year with his runner-up outing. He won the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open earlier in the season for his maiden Asian tour victory.
- In the last two rounds, he was bogey free and shot a total of 11 birdies, including five in his final round. This is his third top-10 of the year after finishing tied seventh and tied sixth in the Yeangder Heritage in Taipei and Thailand Open.
- Jazz earned US$55,000 and moved up to eighth place on the Order of Merit with US$148,147. He also averaged 26 putts per green in regulation to finish third in the category this week.
- Hung, 24, finished strongly with three birdies to finish third on his own. It was his best finish of 2017 after coming top-20 in Myanmar.
- Needing to finish top-two to dislodge David Lipsky from the top of the Order of Merit, India’s SSP Chawrasia carded weekend rounds of 72 and 73 to finish tied 15th on 280, 11 shots behind the winner.
- Defending champion Scott Hend of Australia closed with a second straight 72 to finish tied 34th on 284.
Nicholas Fung (Mas) – Final Round 67 (-4), Total 269 (-15)
I started even par on the front nine but managed to shoot four under on the back nine and managed to get a win. It was very exciting. It’s my first win and I’ve been waiting for this for quite some time. I’m very happy. And also it’s the best day to win as it’s Father’s Day. It’s the best gift I can give to my dad (Fung En Ping). This first win means a lot as I’ve been playing on the Asian Tour Tour for four or five years. I’ve always tried to win and finished second a few times.
It’s a new life for me now as at last, I’ve achieved a win. To shoot 15 under is really good as it’s a difficult golf course. I’m always happy to come to Samui to play the Queen’s Cup as I love the golf course so much.
When I birdied 10 and 11, I didn’t look at the scoreboard and didn’t know that I was in the lead. At 16, I chipped in for birdie and then I heard fans shouting on the 17th green which I kind of guessed that Jazz (Janewattananond) was making a birdie too. When I got to the 17th tee, I saw he had moved up to 14 under and I told myself that if I don’t birdie 17, I still have a chance to birdie 18 which is a par five for the win.
But we said let’s get a birdie on 17 which would make it easier for me to play the last hole which I managed to do. Hit it really close approach shot to about two feet on 17 (to keep his one shot lead). Then on 18, I was a bit nervous off the tee. Told myself that missing right was better than missing on the left which had water hazards.
I hit a bad drive to the right but luckily I managed to chip it out to my favourite distance for the third shot. I was a bit aggressive with my fourth and I was quite confident with the four footer coming back for par as I’ve been putting well throughout the week.
It’s a special gift for my father. I won an ADT event in Malaysia which was on my mum’s birthday and this week, winning on Father’s Day is important. He’s taught me a lot since I was young. He brought me to the golf course, taught me how to be a better golfer and how to be a confident person to face the future. I just followed his advice and thanks to him, he guided me all the way until today to win this tournament. I’m sure he’s very happy. We did it on the right day.
Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) – Final Round 66 (-5), 270 (-14)
I didn’t have a good round on the second day (shot 72). I’m happy with three good rounds though. I played really good but Nicholas deserves the win. He had four good rounds, I had three good rounds. You can’t compete against that. If my second round was better, then I could have competed better. I didn’t win the winning score to be 15 under, I always thought the number will be 14 under.
Hung Chien-yao (Tpe) – Final Round 67 (-4), Total 271 (-13)
I’m really happy with the final result today. But I was thinking of my third round yesterday, I made nine birdies but wasted too many shots on a couple of holes. I’ll try to fix the problem the next time.
I wasn’t thinking of winning during the final round. In my head, in my mental game, I’m always thinking of top five or top 10. You need some luck to win and I’m happy with the result today. Happy with the way I played the last three holes which I birdied home.
Scores after round 4 of the Queen’s Cup 2017 being played at the par 71, 6,851 Yards Santiburi Samui CC course (am – denotes amateur):
269 – Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 66-68-68-67.
270 – Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 67-72-65-66.
271 – HUNG Chien-yao (TPE) 66-71-67-67.
272 – Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) 68-67-68-69.
273 – Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 70-63-70-70.
275 – Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 65-70-71-69, Rashid KHAN (IND) 65-70-70-70, Angelo QUE (PHI) 65-70-69-71.
276 – Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 70-68-71-67, Danny CHIA (MAS) 69-68-67-72.
277 – Pasavee LERTVILAI (THA) 69-66-71-71.
278 – Keith HORNE (RSA) 71-70-68-69, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 69-67-70-72.
279 – Danthai BOONMA (THA) 68-69-72-70.