Cream rises to top at Saujana


Aretha Pan was pleased with her first event in more than two years.

THE Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour is up and running, and looking forward to a full and rewarding season ahead.

Speaking after the Maybank Championship, where Shahriffuddin Ariffin and Mirabel Ting triumphed at Saujana Golf & Country Club in Subang on Thursday, PGM Tour general manager Nik Mustapha Nik Mohd said they were pleased with how things went this week and at the inaugural Tun Ahmad Sarji Trophy, also hosted at Saujana, last month.

The RM200,000 Tun Ahmad Sarji Trophy, held in memory of the late Tun Sarji, the founder and chairman of the Tour who passed away last August, brought an end to a two-year absence of Tour action, barring the PGM MNRB Championship in September 2020.

Nik Mustapha said they were more than pleased to have 10 tournaments on their schedule this year and with five for the women’s category. In all, the total prize money for the season is RM1.39mil.

“So far, we have made a good start to the season and when you think that we have not really had a Tour schedule for two years, this is good news,” said Nik Mustapha.

“Not only have we been able to resume with the schedule, but the level of competition has been good out there and that is a positive sign for the local game,” he added.

On Saujana’s Palm course, Shahriffuddin secured an unexpected but deserved victory in the PGM Maybank Championship, where amateur player Mirabel captured the women’s title.

Shahriffuddin, who only turns 23 in September, shot a blistering six-under 66 on the last day to finish the three-day 54-hole tournament with a nine-under 207 total. And for his efforts, which saw him overturn a one-shot deficit at the start of the third day, he was rewarded with a trophy and a cheque worth RM21,000.

Daeng Abdul Rahman closed out the RM120,000 event with a fine four-under 68, while Galven Green, who carded a last round three-under 69, finished joint third with Nicholas Fung, one of the overnight leaders, who managed a final day 72. They were tied on four-under 212.

Kemarol Baharin, the other joint overnight leader, stumbled to a two-over 74 and finished alone in fifth place on two-under 214, with Wilson Choo and Khor Kheng Hwai tied for sixth on one-under 215, after rounds of 72 and 74.

Kim Leun Kwang was eighth after a last day 73 gave him an even-par 216 total.

Nateeshvar Ganesh emerged the best-placed amateur in the field after he returned with a fine two-under 70 third round. He was tied with R. Nachimuthu and Syakir Adli, who both shot 73s in their 217 totals.

Mirabel topped the women’s leaderboard with a one-under 287 total, as she finished two clear of runner-up Aretha Pan, who managed an even-par 72 in the final round. Ng Jing Xuen, also from the amateur ranks, was third on 299.

Shahriffuddin’s victory was a sweet one taking into account that he did not expect to win.

Speaking after the tournament, he said: “I am really happy as I did not really expect to win here.

“This was a strong field with almost all the country’s leading players in the field. So to win it, makes me very happy and I am also proud to win here as a Saujana ambassador – to get the win here is special.”

The two-time PGM Tour Player of Year (2017 and 2018) added that he would be aiming to build on this victory as his season progresses.

“This (win) will give me confidence going forward and I will be working hard to try and maintain a higher level of consistency in my game,” said Shahriffuddin, who added that he was aiming to play in a “few events” outside Malaysia, with a view to gaining more international exposure and experience.

Mirabel said she too was happy with the victory and added that she was looking forward to the SEA Games in Vietnam in May.

“That will be our next focus,” she said. “I am happy that I won here and feel that most of the hard work came over the first two days when I shot 70 and 69.

“Today (the last day) was difficult even though I hit the ball well.

“I felt that a few of the putts just did not go in, which should have. But I’m still happy with how it went and now I’m looking forward to the SEA Games, where hopefully we can put on a good showing.”

Aretha, a three-time winner on the PGM Tour, said she was delighted with her performance, despite coming up just short.

“I am just pleased with how I played here,” she said.

“I haven’t played tournament golf for more than two years now, because of the Covid-91 pandemic, and to come here and play like this. I’m really happy.”

The Sabah player said she would be back in Kuala Lumpur for the next PGM Tour event – the Kia Championship at Glenmarie Hotel & Golf Resort, from May 22-24.

Leading Scores

PGM Maybank Championship

Men

Tot Name Scores

207 Shahriffuddin Ariffin 70-71-66

211 Daeng Ad Rahman 71-71-68

212 Galven Green 71-72-69

212 Nicholas Fung 69-71-72

214 Kemarol Baharin 73-67-74

215 Wilson Choo 73-70-72

215 Khor Kheng Hwai 74-67-74

216 Kim Leun Kwang 70-73-73

217 Nateeshvar Ganesh (A) 73-74-70

217 R. Nachimuthu 71-73-73

217 Syakir Adli 75-69-73

218 Fakhrul Akmal 71-75-72

219 Sukree Othman 71-76-72

220 Zia Iqmal (A) 70-74-76

220 Wafiyuddin Manaf 69-75-76

221 Isaac To (A) 78-70-73

221 Kenneth De Silva 69-77-75



Women

287 Mirabel Ting (A) 70-69-76

289 Aretha Pan 75-70-72

299 Ng Jing Xuen (A) 70-78-79

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