RIZAL Amin won the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour’s Match Play Close Championship at Kinrara Golf Club in Puchong, Selangor with a display of great consistency.
The weather wrecked havoc with the scheduling of the matches, but even that could not derail Rizal’s quest for a first title since December 2014. He beat Sukree Othman over a final that was reduced to nine holes because of the inclement weather.
Rizal, who bowed out in the second round last year, attributed his triumph to practice after beating Sukree 3&2 in the final.
The four-day tournament, that carries RM200,000 in prize money and rewards the winner with RM34,000, had defending champion S. Sivachandhran finish third after seeing off PGM Order of Merit leader Daeng Abd Rahman with a 4&3 victory.
Rizal beat Daeng in the semi-finals by the same margin, while Sukree, who was knocked out in the semi-finals last season, eliminated Sivachandran.
Daeng overcome Kemarol Baharin 2&1 in the quarterfinals, where Kim Leun Kwang lost to Rizal 5&4, giant killer Razli Yahya crashed out 6&5 to Sivachandhran and Sukree narrowly came through with a 1up victory over Wilson Choo.
Rizal, who said his success was mainly down to regular practice, added: “I also felt that I kept my composure well.
“My focus too was a key factor in the victory, which I must say was a tough challenge from the start to finish. The conditions did not favour good golf with it being wet, but I kept focused and my putting too was solid.
“I am happy I came through eventually.”
Throughout the week the worst he did was to be stretched to a 3&2 win, which meant that he was never forced to play the 17th and 18th holes at Kinrara.
On the two occasions when he won 3&2, wrapping proceedings by the 16th hole, it was against season campaigners Sukree and R. Nachimuthu, who he dispatched in the third round.
Rizal opened his account with a 5&4 first round triumph over Diddy Ibnu and then eliminated Akhmal Tarmizee in the second round and Daeng in the semi-finals with identical 4&3 wins.
Sukree, seeking a first win on Tour this season – after two victories last season – said he was pleased with the way he played but disappointed to have come up just short in the final.
“Overall it was a good week. I played some solid golf but was beaten by Rizal, who really played well,” said Sukree. “It was also a pity the weather was not very good and the final had to be cut to nine holes.
“But I am happy with my game, which is improving now.
“I did not do well in the first half of the season as I struggled with my game, especially my short game. But now that part of my game (short game) is a lot better.”
Sivachandran said he was not too disheartened, despite relinquishing the crown.
“I played well,” he said. “So I am not too unhappy. What I am disappointed about is that I did not keep my focus in the semifinals when we came back the next day to complete the round.”
The semi-finals were suspended half-way through and completed the following morning, after which the nine-hole final took place.
“At the end of the day, I tried my best – I gave it a good shot. I hit the ball solid and was generally comfortable with how I got through,” added Sivachandran.
The event got off to a fast start as 63rd seeded Razli Yahya knocked out Amir Nazrin. The underdog came through 4&3.
But Razli did not stop there. He continued with another upset in the second round, beating the fancied veteran S. Murthy in a match that went to 20 holes.
Even then, Razli was not done. He mastered a 3&2 victory over multiple Tour winner Airil Rizman Zahari, a past PGM Player of the Year.
However, Razli’s run was halted in the quarterfinals by Sivachandhran who proved too hot to handle and won 6&5.
Young Low Khai Jei also enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing off a big name. He beat Mior Asyraf Haziq 5&4 then accounted for the scalp of one of the pre-tournament favourites Shahriffuddin, whom he beat 4&3 in the second round.
Khai Jei came up against Daeng next, who won 2up.