Puchong [SELANGOR]: Kenneth De Silva held off a final-round charge from seasoned campaigners Sukree Othman and R. Nachimuthu to emerge victorious at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Kinrara Championship by one shot.
The 23-year-old, whose professional breakthrough came 27 months ago in Kuching, returned with a one-under 70 at Kinrara Golf Club to finish on 10-under-par 274 for the tournament.
A strong Saturday push by halfway leader Sukree, which led to a flawless five-under-par 66, put Kenneth under pressure but the in-form young professional maintained his composure with a steady par putt on the last after he had dropped his third bogey of the day on the 17th.
Sukree settled for second alongside defending champion Nachimuthu (69), who was making his first appearance of the season at the RM180,000 tournament.
Former Order of Merit winner Nicholas Fung climbed up the leaderboard with a 66 of his own to finish alone in fourth with a eight-under 276 overall, a stroke better than Kemarol Baharin (69) and rookie Mohd Wafiyuddin Abdul Manaf, who strung together a composed performance on his debut with a closing three-under 68.
The win, worth RM30,600, marked a second podium finish for Kenneth in as many tournaments on the flourishing domestic circuit after a third placing at the season-opening Panasonic Open Malaysia.
“I’m really happy and delighted with my performance this week. It has been a tough grind since my first win in October 2012 and I have been trying very hard. This is my first time leading into a final round of a professional event and to finish it off with a good scores, is very satisfying,” said Kenneth.
He traded two birdies with as many bogeys to make the turn on even-par 34 before birdies on the 10th and 15th saw him regain his two-shot overnight cushion.
“I was jittery from the start and after a great opening birdie, the bogeys on the third and fifth put me under a lot of pressure.
“It was much better after the turn when I drained a difficult ten-feet birdie attempt on 10th. It helped with my confidence and I told myself to just play percentage golf all the way to the end and allow the chasing pack to do the work,” added the decorated former national, who credited his new caddie and a slight change to his swing tempo for his form.
Sukree looked a good bet throughout the week but rued a costly third round three-over 74 that cost him a sixth PGM Tour title.
“I was able to bounce back after an “off-day” yesterday. The 74 proved costly but I did leave one or two more makeable birdies out there today. I knew that I had to go low but it was always going to be an uphill battle,” shared Sukree.
Leading final round scores (Par-71) >
274 – Kenneth De Silva 66-70-68-70
275 – Sukree Othman 65-70-74-66, R. Nachimuthu 68-72-66-69
276 – Nicholas Fung 69-70-71-66
277 – Shaaban Hussin 69-68-69-71
278 – Kemarol Baharin 69-69-71-69, Muhd Wafiyuddin Abdul Manaf 70-70-70-68
279 – Hans Jamil 70-69-68-72, Mohd Amli Mohayideen 70-74-66-69, Mohd Nazri Mohd Zain 73-69-70-67
280 – Airil Rizman Zahari 72-72-68-68