by: EDWARD SAMINATHAN
Port Dickson [NEGERI SEMBILAN]: Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz announced his arrival on the professional scene with a grandstand finish on Saturday to emerge victorious at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Port Dickson Championship.
The galleries roared in approval as the rookie professional buried a 15-foot birdie putt at the finishing hole to defeat reigning Order of Merit champion Nicholas Fung by a single stroke at the Port Dickson Golf & Country Club.
The 17-year-old signed off with a flawless 68 to clinch his second PGM Tour title in only his third professional start, with a four-day haul of 12-under 272.
Fung failed to capitalise on an inspired start as he dropped a costly bogey on the penultimate hole to settle for second with a 68 of its own.
The Sabahan was four shots clear of the trio of Wafiyuddin Abdul Manaf, who fired a blistering five-under 66 to tie Amir Nazrin Jailani (69) and Nachimuthu Ramasamy (69) for third.
Ben Leong, who began the final round three shots off the lead, could only muster a level-par 71 to slip to sole sixth with a six-under 278 overall.
Leading final results (Par-71)
272 – Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz 69-68-67-68
273 – Nicholas Fung 67-68-70-68
277 – Wafiyuddin Abd Manaf 66-75-70-66, Amir Nazrin Jailani 67-70-71-69, Nachimuthu Ramasamy 66-72-70-69
278 – Ben Leong 69-70-68-71
279 – Tan Chien Hau 74-69-68-68, Sukree Othman 68-72-70-69
280 – Khor Kheng Hwai 72-70-67-71, Shahriffuddin Ariffin 72-69-67-72
281 – Airil Rizman Zahari 74-69-68-70, Danny Chia 73-68-69-71
Describing his win as something “special”, Daeng was pleasantly surprised to return to the winners’ circle so quickly into his professional career.
“This is a special victory and something to treasure because it has come so soon after I made the leap of faith in February. I knew I had it within me to win today but it was always going to be closely-fought. I’m just proud with the way I was able to absorb the early pressure by Nicholas and respond strongly at the end,” said Daeng, who holds the distinction of winning the Danau Championship in 2015 as an amateur.
The former national endured a frustrating front nine as he carded nine consecutive pars while Fung got off to a flyer – the Sabahan notching four birdies to lead by three at the turn.
But it proved short-lived as Fung opened his back nine with back-to-back bogeys as Daeng drained a monstrous 25-footer for birdie on #11 to level the contest.
The pair traded a further birdie apiece before Fung uncharacteristically missed a short par putt on #17 to open the door for his younger challenger to re-take the lead for the first time all day.
“I managed three birdies on the back nine and they were all instrumental. The first birdie was really crucial for my confidence because I couldn’t buy a putt all day, despite striking the ball well. I knew that I had to birdie 16 to keep myself in the contest and when Nicholas dropped a shot on 17th, I knew I had a good chance.
“Nicholas ramped up the pressure when he birdied from close range after missing his eagle putt on the last. I was pretty unlucky with my third shot as it took a bad bounce off the apron, leaving me with a long putt for birdie. It came down to either sinking it or falling into a play-off – and I wasn’t keen on the second option,” he laughed.