PETALING JAYA: Muhd Afif Fathi nearly pulled off the tournament’s greatest comeback before settling for second at the 100PLUS Malaysian Junior Open golf championships.
Last year’s champion Afif overcame a seven-shot deficit by closing with a fine three-under 69 to match South Korea’s Shin Tae-won’s one-over 217 total at the end of regulation to force a playoff.
Tae-won squandered his three-shot advantage overnight after struggling to a 76.
However, it was Tae-won who had the last laugh when he edged Afif with a par on the second extra hole of the playoff – played at the par-four No. 9. Both players had earlier bogeyed the first extra hole at the par-four No. 8.
Afif lamented he wasn’t in the best condition during the playoff.
“I couldn’t hit it great at all as I had already wound down after finishing the round almost an hour earlier than Tae-won,” said Afif, who mixed his scorecard with five birdies and two bogeys.
“I didn’t think my 69 would be enough to tie for the lead as I started the day seven shots off the pace.
“So, I had lunch and sat down for 45 minutes already when I was informed there’s going to be a playoff. I’m quite disappointed, it was really close and a real big chance to defend my title.”
If he had emerged champion, Afif would have been the first player – boy or girl – to retain the crown in the tournament’s history since its inception in 2006.
Filipina Mikhaela Fortuna made it a double blow for the host as she shot a second straight 68 to pip overnight Malaysian leader Winnie Ng Yu Xuan (70) to the girls’ crown by a single stroke.
Mikhaela compiled an eight-under 208 total to become the Philippines’ sixth player to win the girls’ division after Chihiro Ikeda (2007), Sarah Ababa (2010), Dottie Ardina (2011), Princess Mary Supe-ral (2012) and Harmie Constatino (2014).
“I wasted three strokes today. I had two bogeys in a row on holes No. 14 and No. 15,” Winnie lamented.
“Although I managed to recover with back-to-back birdies on the last two holes, it was not good enough. I have lost to a better player. Mikhaela deserves to be the champion.”
LEADING FINAL ROUND SCORES
(Malaysians unless stated)
217: Shin Tae-won (Kor) 67-74-76 (won on second playoff hole), Muhd Afif Fathi 73-75-69;
218: Victor Ng Yu Kai 72-76-70;
220: Malcolm Ting Siong Hung 74-74-72, K. Rhaasrikanesh 70-76-74;
221: V. Ruhanraj 78-72-71, Adam Arif Madzri 71-72-77;
222: Christopher Daniel James 78-73-71, Donovan Lee (Sin) 72-76-74;
223: Aung Yar Zar (Mya) 73-78-72.
208: Mikhaela Fortuna (Phi) 72-68-68;
209: Winnie Ng Yu Xuan 68-71-70;
218: Natasha Andrea Oon 74-69-75, Liyana Durisixc 75-66-77;
219: Ashley Lau Jen Wen 79-71-69, Mirabel Ting Ern Hui 72-74-73;
223: Angel Hii 76-75-72;
224: G. Vinisha 68-78-78;
225: Lorenz Kayla Nocum (Phi) 76-76-73;
226: Sofia Chabon (Phi) 77-74-75.
Did you find this article insightful?