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Monday May 28, 2012

NCAA stint helps youngster end Malaysia’s 15-year title drought

SHAH ALAM: Youngster Gavin Kyle Green brought his fine run to a fitting end with a final round of four-under 68 to become the first local golfer in 15 years to win the Malaysian Amateur Open at Glenmarie Golf and Country Club.

Despite having just returned from the US and managing only a single practice session, Gavin produced a stunning second round of seven-under 65 to take over the leaderboard from Australian Oliver Goss.

He followed this with another steady round of 69 to take a three-stroke lead into the final day.

Gavin, battling fatigue, carded six birdies against two bogeys yesterday to seal the biggest win of his amateur career by six strokes.

His tournament total of 14-under 274 made him the first Malaysian winner since R. Nachimuthu back in 1997.

That’s my boy: Gavin Kyle Green is kissed by his mother Vivienne Beh after winning the Malaysia Amateur Open title.

It was a fitting celebration of sorts for organisers Malaysian Golf Association as this was the 110th edition of the tournament.

One of the oldest amateur events in the world, top players like Michael Campbell, Mardan Mamat and Thongchai Jaidee are among the illustrious former winners.

And 19-year-old Gavin showed he may well be the future of Malaysian golf if he can build on this success.

Gavin, who is doing business studies at the New Mexico University, plays in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships.

“I always want to do well for my country. It has been a long time since a Malaysian won so this is awesome. It certainly is my biggest win to date,” said Gavin, who attributed his improved mental strength for his performance.

“I can now block things off and not put pressure on myself. My short game was also really good all week.

“I’m going to try and keep it up for the next tournament,” said Gavin, who will be playing in the MPI Saujana Amateur Open at Saujana Golf and Country Club this week.

Poom Saksansin, who won the individual title in the 2010 Putra Cup and is currently the top amateur in Thailand, took second place with a one-under 71, six strokes behind Gavin.

“Gavin was on fire so I knew he wasn’t going to fall back,” he said.

“I was trying to catch up but ran out of holes. He deserves the win. I’m sure we will meet again in other events.”

Jordan Irawan of Indonesia surged up the leaderboard to finish third after carding a 69 for a 283 total.

The 125-strong field featured players from 17 countries.

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