American Trevor Simsby picked up his first Asian Tour title after sinking a four-foot birdie putt to emerge triumphant on the second play-off hole against Andrew Dodt of Australia at the weather shortened Bandar Malaysia Open on Sunday.
The 27-year-old Simsby, who earned his 2020 Asian Tour card after capping a commendable season on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) last year, opted for an aggressive style of play in his three trips down the 18th hole which clearly paid off for him at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club.
He went for the green on the par-five, 565-yard hole but found himself in the right rough in regulation play. He then hit his third shot to the green and two-putted for par to sign for a closing two-under-par 70 and a 13-under-par 203 total.
Simsby, who played in the second last group, endured an agonising wait in the clubhouse before countryman Jarin Todd and Australian Andrew Dodt matched his efforts by carding rounds of 70 and 72 respectively in the prestigious US$1 million event.
The trio returned to the 18th hole for the sudden-death playoff which saw Todd bowing out after missing a 15-foot birdie putt while Dodt, who led the first two rounds, made his from eight feet and Simsby nailing his from three feet after hitting his lob-wedge from a tough angle.
Simsby and Dodt returned to the 18th tee for the second play-off hole and Simsby found the fairway again after opting to tee off with his driver instead of his three-wood which he used on the first extra hole. His aggressive play proved rewarding as his second shot landed just short of the green.
Dodt hit his tee shot to the left rough and had to lay up with an iron to the middle of the fairway before hitting his approach to 15 feet, leaving himself a tough putt for birdie. Simsby, on the other hand, chipped up to four feet and eventually won after Dodt missed his putt.
Simsby, a graduate from the University of Washington where he played alongside PGA TOUR champion C.T. Pan of Chinese Taipei, was thrilled to claim his career biggest win yet in only his 12th start on the Asian Tour and first this season at the Malaysian showpiece.
The lanky American, who hails from Carlsbad, California, is playing in only his second year in Asia. He came through the 2019 Qualifying School and plied his trade on both the Asian Tour and the ADT last season.
He finished 84th on the 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit to miss out on his playing rights for 2020 but a seventh-place finish on the ADT Merit rankings last season saw him regain his Asian Tour card for 2020.
Simsby will take home a winner’s prize purse of US$180,000 courtesy of his win and move to second place on the latest Order of Merit, where Australian Wade Ormsby extended his lead following a top-10 finish at the National Open of Malaysia.
Charlie Wi, former winner of the Malaysian Open in 2006, posted a 69 to share fourth place with Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino (69) and Kosuke Hamamoto (68) of Thailand on matching 204s while young guns Amir Nazrin and Shahriffuddin Ariffin emerged as the best Malaysian performers after registering identical 70s to tie in 38th place.
The Bandar Malaysia Open, which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour Organisation, was reduced to 54 holes by officials on Saturday following several weather delays which saw more than 10 hours of play lost throughout the week.
The highly acclaimed Bandar Malaysia Open, which boasts a new tagline ‘Pride, Passion, Prominence’, is the flagship event for the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA). It returned to the Asian Tour schedule this week after a four-year hiatus.
Trevor Simsby (USA) – Final round 70 (-2), Total 203 (-13)
This is the biggest win I have had in my career so far. It’s just amazing where I am right now. We were just hoping to get a full round of golf in today, and just knowing that this is going to be the final round, we were just giving it our all.
The course is playing a bit harder today. You have to be really patient out there. It’s been a challenging week. I’m just ecstatic to win this. Walking off the 15th green, my caddie told me that we’re still in it. He was saying it all day but I didn’t really think so until I birdied 16th.
I thought we definitely have a chance. And then I made a really good par on 17. I played aggressively on the 18th hole today. For me, I think that hole sets up better with driver just playing it up the right now.
I like just the mindset that it gives me of getting down there where I have a chance to get to the green. That was the right foot I guess, it just happened to suit my eye. I was chipping the ball amazing all week. I had two chip-ins in the second round which were huge, and it’s just amazing how it all came together nicely today.
I missed the cut in the last event on the ADT last year and just barely snuck into the top-eight on the Order of Merit. I got really motivated when I got back home to California and I met up some friends who are succeeding on the PGA TOUR as well. I just worked very hard after that and I’m just excited for the rest of the season now. I hope to keep the momentum going.
I shouldn’t have hit driver in regulation probably but you know the mind was spinning a little bit and I knew I was tied for the lead and trying to play a smart role and permit drivers to play for sure when opportunity sets.
I was just excited to even have a chance on the back nine. I made a little mistake on the par-five and I thought I was a bit out of it but I just stayed in it mentally, and somehow managed to birdie 16th.
Andrew Dodt (AUS) – Final round 72 (even-par), Total 203 (-13)
It was a good week. Just disappointed to finish it like that but all in all, it’s still a solid week. Hats off to Trevor Simsby. I got off to a good start.
Thinking back about the double-bogey on 15th, I made a good bounce back with a birdie on 16. The birdie on 17th was also quite possible but didn’t make it.
I tried to be aggressive out there today. It just got really hard on the back nine, mentally and physically. Still a lot of positives to take from this week.
Jarin Todd (USA) – Final round 70 (-2), Total 203 (-13)
Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out, you know. I hit a really good shot in regulation. I think it made the pin. It might have been different. I made a good putt there but missed it. I hit another good wedge shot there but just didn’t come back off the hill.
Lots of positives to take home from this week. Nice to go home and be in a decent spot on the final leaderboard. Thrilled to mark my best result on Tour this week too.
Charlie Wi (KOR) – Final round 69 (-3), Total 204 (-12)
I played really well. I haven’t been in contention for a long time so I was a little nervous coming down the stretch. I guess it showed on the putt on 17th. And I told my caddie I just slipped up and I got so anxious, but still, it was a lot of fun to be in.
I was surprised that I got up to the top. I thought Andrew got off to a good start and was wondering what happened to him. The anxieties set in then but that’s the reason why we play.
I thought that I was going to make that putt on 17. I really had a good feeling, but you know just not being in contention, it really showed that things got the best of me. So next time I’m in that situation, I’ll handle myself better. I’m getting into golf and I’m really enjoying it.
Amir Nazrin (MAS) – Final round 70 (-2), Total 211 (-5)
I will take the two-under today. I made an eagle on the first which was my 10th hole today. I tried to push myself to get more birdies out there but only managed one coming back. But overall, I’m very happy with my performance this week.
This is my first time playing in my own National Open. It’s been a good week. I love the course, the surroundings and the people. The weather hasn’t been great to us unfortunately but it’s still a great week.
I hit my driver off the tee and then an eight-iron downwind to the green. But the green was firm and I had an eagle putt from about a pin and a half which I fortunately made.
I took like three days off before my first practice round here this week. I didn’t touch the clubs. Just want to clear my mind and not stress myself with a good finish here. I love the way I hit my irons this week and also the way I putted. I could have driven the ball better.