Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia: Bangladeshi Shakhawat Sohel sensationally eagled the first extra hole to win his maiden Asian Development Tour (ADT) title at the PGM Miri Championship.
Shakhawat returned a five-under-par 67 in regulation play to tie with rising star Nitithorn Thippong (70) of Thailand on seven-under 281 at the RM225,000 (about US$58,000) ADT event.
When they returned to the 18th hole for the play-off, it was Shakhawat who produced the shot of the day when he chipped-in for eagle from 40 yards to pip Nitithorn, who was facing a 12-foot birdie putt.
The victory was a dream come true for Shakhawat, who erased the heartbreak of losing in a play-off on the ADT in Malaysia in July. He is the second Bangladeshi to win on the ADT after Siddikur Rahman.
“I’m feeling great. I can’t express what I’m feeling. This is my first victory in an international tournament and I’m very proud and happy,” said the 33-year-old, who won US$9,503 and earned six Official World Golf Ranking points.
“When I saw my eagle chip disappearing into the hole, I was too excited. I remember screaming and celebrating. I think I threw my cap as well,” he laughed.
“The feeling was different when I lost in a play-off a few months ago. I was very sad but the experience helped me today. Then I was thinking a lot and rushing my shots but today I was more relaxed. More importantly, I was focused on what I wanted which was to win,” said Shakhawat.
He was three shots off the pace at the start of the final 18 holes but took full advantage of a solid short game which resulted in a flawless round highlighted by five birdies.
Shakhawat’s victory is an inspiring underdog story as he started his sojourn in golf as a caddie at the Kurmitola Golf Club where he would play 18 holes with a single five-iron. But what he lacked in the golf bag, he made up with talent and a strong will to succeed.
“It is a tough life for us,” said Shakhawat. “We play without sponsors and as a junior we rely on club members and donations. I remember using a five-iron to chip and putt.
“I had help to finally receive a full golf bag thanks to my sister and a Japanese member. It was a proud moment when I represented my national team because we played in tournaments around the world. Now I’m a winner on the ADT.”