Thai Rookie Nirun Trumps Pavit in Extra Time

Nirun Sae-Ueng displays the spoils of victory. Picture by Azhari Yusop/PGM.
Nirun Sae-Ueng displays the spoils of victory. Picture by Azhari Yusop/PGM.

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia: Nirun Sae-Ueng claimed his maiden Asian Development Tour (ADT) victory at the PGM Sabah Championship after defeating reigning Order of Merit champion and countryman Pavit Tangkamolprasert on the first play-off hole.

The 20-year-old Thai, who closed with a stunning seven-under-par 65, edged out Pavit on the 18th hole sudden-death shoot-out with a par after the duo tied on eight-under 280 in regulation play at the Sabah Golf and Country Club.

Phachara Khongwatmai, the youngest winner on the ADT, ensured a strong Thai presence on the final leaderboard when he carded a 67 to share third place on 281 with overnight leader Danthai Boonma, who registered a 71, in the RM200,000 (about US$55,400) event, the 10th leg of the 2015 ADT season.

One-time Asian Tour winner Ben Leong, who hails from Sabah, fired a 66 to emerge as the top Malaysian in fifth place on 284 while two other Thais, Pasamet Pogamnerd (68) and Sutijet Kooratanapisan (72) were a further shot back in a share of sixth place.

Nirun needed only 25 putts in his round of eight birdies, nine pars and one bogey which would have matched the course record set by compatriot Thammanoon Sriroj in 1997 if not for the preferred lies ruling being in effect.

“I am very happy. I played solid. My putting was good and I hit my tee shots very well. Everything just seemed to be in place for me. The playing conditions were pretty similar to the last few rounds. The course was still playing tough but I just stuck to my gameplan,” said Nirun.

He stumbled with his only bogey on the first hole but recovered with a birdie on the second before charging ahead with four straight birdies from the fourth hole. He added three more birdies on his way home.

“Pavit is a good friend of mine and we played together during our practice rounds this week. I know he is a good player and has won a lot of times on the ADT but I did not put pressure on myself. With this win, I can now aim to finish in top-five on the Merit rankings,” added Nirun, who earned US$9,730 and six Official World Golf Ranking points.

It was his second professional win since joining the play-for-pay ranks in 2014. He won on his domestic circuit earlier this year.

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