Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia: Sam Gillis secured his maiden Asian Development Tour (ADT) title when he prevailed at the third hole of a play-off at the PGM MIDF Championship.
The ADT rookie traded six birdies against two bogeys for a closing four-under-par 68 to force extra-time against overnight leader Itthipat Buranatanyarat, who returned a 70 in the RM225,000 (about US$58,000) event at Kota Seriemas Golf and Country Club.
The 23-year-old American went head-to-head with Thai Itthipat after the duo finished the regulation 72 holes locked together on 14-under-par 274.
“It feels great to finally win after coming so close a couple of times this season. It’s my first professional win so it’s a special one for me,” said Gillis.
The play-off was held on the par-four 18th. The duo halved the first two extra holes before Gillis triumphed with a birdie at the third time of asking while Itthipat could manage only a par.
Gillis started the day with a two-shot deficit, but rallied with birdies on holes two and seven before dropping his first shot on the ninth to turn in 35. He grabbed three more birdies and dropped a shot on hole 17 but chipped-in for birdie on the last for an inward 33.
“I knew it was going to be close on the last three holes and when it came down to the last hole I knew I had to chip it in. Itthipat’s second shot was off the green and I just chipped it exactly how I wanted to hit the shot and executed it perfectly,” said Gillis.
With his win, Gillis earned six Official World Golf Ranking points and a winner’s cheque for US$9,494.
“On the third extra hole I decided to play it safe and hit an iron off the tee to keep my ball on the fairway. It worked out well because I hit a good approach and was able to make birdie from there,” added Gillis, who moved up to fourth place on the ADT Order of Merit.
Itthipat, 25, who held the lead for the first three rounds, was disappointed to miss out on a third ADT victory, but he hopes to carry his momentum over to the final two events this season.
“I have no complains about how I played this week. I gave it my best shot but Sam (Gillis) just played a little better. I am so close to a win and there are still two more events so I am going to keep giving it my best,” said Itthipat.
Thai Donlaphatchai Niyomchon posted a 67 to take solo third on 278, while four players shared fourth place on 280 – Thai Poom Pattaropong (71), Japan’s Naoki Sekito (69), Singapore’s Abdul Hadi (70) and American Justin De Los Santos (71).