Kedah, Malaysia: Kurt Kitayama completed a stunning wire-to-wire victory at the PGM Darulaman Championship for his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) title.
The 25-year-old rookie closed with a two-under-par 70 to defeat fellow-American John Catlin in the RM225,000 (about US$55,000) event.
It was a dramatic final day on which Kitayama saw his five-shot overnight lead erased by Catlin, who fired three birdies and snared a 10-foot eagle putt on the 10th hole to draw level.
Kitayama, who finished tied-third at Qualifying School, responded with clutch birdie putts on holes 16 and 18 to secure his first title in Asia with a total of 21-under 267.
“Before hole 10 I felt tight. 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,” said Kitayama, who spent two years on the Web.com Tour.
“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, go home and relax. I am hoping to get one of the earlier starts like New Zealand or Perth,” added Kitayama, who pocketed US$10,096.15 for his victory.
Two-time ADT winner Catlin was pleased with his ball-striking en route to posting a career-best four-day tournament total of 269.
“I gave it my all. Other than a mis-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 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.
Donlaphatchai Niyomchon placed third following a 71 while fellow-Thai Nitithorn Thippong carded a 67 to settle for fourth place on 277.
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