Early Birthday Celebrations for Thai Panuwat

Panuwat Muenlek celebrates his victory at Port Dickson. Picture by Arep Kulal
Panuwat Muenlek celebrates his victory at Port Dickson. Picture by Arep Kulal

Port Dickson, Malaysia: Thailand’s Panuwat Muenlek secured his third Asian Development Tour (ADT) title and second win of the season with a come-from-behind triumph at the PGM Port Dickson Championship.

Panuwat, who turns 31 tomorrow, earned himself an early birthday present after signing for a flawless six-under-par 65 to win on 14-under 270 at the Port Dickson Golf and Country Club.

Jakraphan Premsirigorn, also of Thailand, settled for second place with Singapore’s Johnson Poh, who carded a second consecutive 67 at the RM200,000 (about US$46,600) event.

Malaysian Gavin Green, who held a one-shot advantage heading into the final round, missed out on his third win of the season to earn his Asian Tour card for the remainder of 2016 after closing with a 71 to finish four shots back in fourth place with Australian David Gleeson (68).

Swede Oscar Zetterwall returned with the week’s best score of 63 to take sixth place on 275 with 2013 ADT Order of Merit champion Nicholas Fung of Malaysia, who carded a 70 in the 15th leg of the ADT schedule this season.

Panuwat, who trailed by two shots at the start of the day, produced a gutsy performance as he birdied the last two holes to take home the winner’s prize purse of US$8,618 and receive six Official World Golf Ranking points.

“This is a great birthday present for myself. Everything was good for me today. I felt very confident. I missed a three-footer and a six-footer for birdies on 15 and 16 respectively but I hung in there. I told my caddie ‘we will try to birdie the last two holes’ and we did it,” said Panuwat.

“This is not an easy course. It is very narrow but it suits my game. I hit it good off the tee and I putted well. I guess playing in the second last group helps too as I didn’t really feel the nerves,” added the Thai, who claimed his second ADT victory last month.

Despite being denied of a maiden ADT victory, Poh took in the positives as he capped his best result on the Tour. The 24-year-old Singaporean fired three birdies against a lone bogey to turn in 33 and added further birdies on 14 and 16. He failed to sink a 20-foot birdie putt on the last to miss out on a play-off with Panuwat.

“I stuck to my gameplan. I made some really good putts and I am very happy with my game,” said Poh, who has enjoyed an illustrious amateur career prior to turning professional in 2015.

Poh represented Singapore at the Asian Games in 2010 and 2014 and was crowned Singapore National Amateur Champion in 2010 and 2014. He also won the team and individual silver medals at the 2015 South East Asian Games.

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