Kedah, Malaysia, January 27: American Kurt Kitayama completed a stunning wire-to-wire victory at the PGM Darulaman Championship to win his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) title on Saturday.
The 25-year-old rookie closed with a two-under-par 70 to defeat a relentless John Catlin, who settled for second place at the RM225,000 (approximately US$55,000) ADT event.
It was a dramatic final day where Kitayama's five-shot lead was erased by a battling Catlin, who fired three birdies and a 10-foot eagle putt on the 10th hole to draw level with his countryman.
Kitayama, who finished tied-3rd in Qualifying School in January, responded with clutch birdie putts on holes 16 and 18 to secure his first title in Asia with a winning total of 21-under-par 267.
“Before hole 10 I felt tight all around and it got to all square, after hole 11 I finally felt more relaxed and was loosening up. I still wasn’t making good shots but I was making good pars and good saves. I was on a cold stretch where I wasn’t giving myself a lot of good looks. I just told myself to stay patient since I still had a lot of golf left and I just needed to give myself more opportunities along the way,” said Kitayama.
After playing two years on the Web.com Tour, Kitayama was delighted to taste success in Asia. He pocketed US$10,096.15 for his victory.
“I’ve been excited for the schedule I’m hoping to get some sponsor invites after this if not I’ll just have a break after this to go home and just relax. I am hoping to get one of the earlier starts like New Zealand or Perth if not then I think I’ll take a good break,” added Kitayama.
Two-time ADT winner John Catlin prides himself on his solid ball-striking this week to finish with a career best four-day tournament total of 269.
“I gave it my all. Hole 10 was when it got real. Making that eagle putt just gave me a good chance. Other than a miss hit on hole 12 I played some phenomenal golf today. I was so close, just kept telling myself to keep going. I had a birdie putt on every single hole on the back nine. It was great playing with Kurt he’s a good player, hits the ball miles and you could have sizzled my steak medium rare on his putter the last two days,” said Catlin.
Thailand’s Donlaphatchai Niyomchon finished third following a 71 while Nitithorn Thippong, also from Thailand, carded a 67 to settle for fourth place on 277.
The PGM Darulaman Championship, by featuring on the ADT schedule, will receive official World Golf Ranking status. The winner will receive a minimum of six Official World Golf Ranking points and the top six players and ties will earn points on a sliding scale.
Leading final round scores:
267 - Kurt KITAYAMA (USA) 63 70 64 70
269 - John CATLIN (USA) 68 68 66 67
276 - Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA) 71 69 65 71
277 - Nitithorn THIPPONG (THA) 68 73 69 67
278 - Itthipat BURANATANYARAT (THA) 68 72 69 69
280 - Kwanchai TANNIN (THA) 70 69 69 72
281 - Mohammad WAFIYUDDIN (MAS) 75 70 72 64
282 - Thepbodin AMARANAN (THA) 74 68 74 66, Kemarol BAHARIN (MAS) 71 72 72 67, Thanpisit OMSIN (THA) 72 70 70 70