Overnight leader Jake Stirling of Australia earned his breakthrough on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) after closing with a two-under-par 70 to claim a two-shot victory at the PGM Rahman Putra Championship on Saturday.
Stirling, who headed into the final round with a three-shot cushion thanks to a superb third round 62, negotiated his ways with four birdies against two bogeys for a winning total of 21-under-par 267 at the Rahman Putra Golf Club.
Japan’s Masaru Takahashi battled to a second consecutive 69 but was unable to pip Stirling to the title as he took second place on 269 while American Jarin Todd settled four shots back in third following a 72 at the RM250,000 (approximately US$69,250) ADT event.
South African Mathiam Keyser came in fourth after carding a 68 while Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung signed off with his best effort of a 66 to take fifth place on his own at the PGM Rahman Putra Championship, which is the 14th leg of the ADT schedule this season.
Stirling, who came through the Qualifying School in January to earn his playing rights for the 2015 Asian Tour season, held his nerve in his last 18 holes to land his first victory since joining the play-for-pay ranks in 2013.
“This win means a lot to me. I have been playing on the ADT for a couple of years now and I am very happy because it’s my first professional victory. Playing on the ADT hasn’t been easy but it’s been a great experience. It took me awhile to get used to the different greens out here in Asia. It’s very different from what we get back home in Australia,” said the 25-year-old Australian.
“I was a little nervous today actually, especially going into the last few holes but I told myself to stay calm and not think too much about winning. I am glad I did it and my main aim right now is to try and keep my Asian Tour card for next season,” added Stirling, whose highlight of the round came on the 16th hole where he sank a 25-footer putt for birdie.
Stirling will take home a prize purse of US$11,648 and receive six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points courtesy of his victory, which also propelled him to third place on the ADT Order of Merit led by Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Chi-hsien.
Despite missing out on his second ADT title, Masaru took pride in his best performance so far this season and is determined to break into top-five on the Merit rankings by the end of the season.
“Overall, I am happy with my performance this week. I have been playing well. The season has been pretty good for me so far. Hopefully I can continue to do well and finish in top-five on the Order of Merit by the end of this season,” said the 28-year-old Japanese, who traded four birdies against a lone bogey.
Masaru, whose breakthrough ADT victory came in 2013, has notched seven top-10s so far this season to sit in sixth place on the current Order of Merit with earnings of US$20,865 from 12 starts.
Since it was inaugurated in 2010, the ADT has grown from five events in the first year to a record 22 tournaments this season.
With the Olympic Games looming in 2016 where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, players in the region could earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro by earning OWGR points through the Asian Tour and ADT.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Leading final round scores
267 – Jake STIRLING (AUS) 67-68-62-70
269 – Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN) 67-64-69-69
273 – Jarin TODD (USA) 70-65-66-72
275 – Mathiam KEYSER (RSA) 71-69-67-68
276 – Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 69-69-72-66
277 – Jack MUNRO (AUS) 66-73-71-67, M.Sasidaran (MAS) 68-68-73-68
278 – Mitsuhiko HASHIZUME (JPN) 69-69-70-70
279 – Nirun SAE-UENG (THA) 69-70-69-71, Sean RIORDAN (NZL) 71-69-68-71