Donlaphatchai reigns in weather-shortened Taifong Open


Overnight leader Donlaphatchai Niyomchon of Thailand was declared the winner of the season-ending US$160,000 Taifong Open after officials cancelled the fourth and final round due to inclement weather.

Changhwa, Chinese Taipei, December 29: Overnight leader Donlaphatchai Niyomchon of Thailand was declared the winner of the season-ending US$160,000 Taifong Open after officials cancelled the fourth and final round due to inclement weather.

Donlaphatchai, who carded a bogey-free four-under-par 68 in the third round, completed a wire-to-wire victory to triumph by two shots with a winning total of nine-under-par 207 and claimed his maiden Asian Development Tour (ADT) title at the Taifong Golf Club.

The 29-year-old Thai would take home a winner’s prize purse of US$28,000 and propel from 94th to third place on the final 2019 ADT Order of Merit, thereby securing his Asian Tour card for the 2020 season. He also receives six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points following his win.

“I am really happy. It’s a great ending to my season. I have been working very hard on my fitness for the last two years and I’m glad it has paid off. I have waited very long for this win too and I can’t wait to play on the Asian Tour next year,” said Donlaphatchai, who turned professional in 2010 and only claimed his breakthrough win on home soil last year.

Donlaphatchai is the third Thai, following Rattanon Wannasrichan (2015) and Pannakorn Uthaipas (2017), to win the Taifong Open, which was inaugurated in 2014 as the richest event on the ADT schedule.

Chinese Taipei’s Wang Wei-lun and Tseng Tzu-hsuan settled for second place with Japan’s Daisuke Yasumoto and young Thai Atiruj Winaicharoenchai following respective closing rounds of 67, 69, 68 and 69 in the season finale.

Naoki Sekito capped a season’s haul of US$50,942 following his tied-61st place finish at the Taifong Open and became the very first Japanese to win the Order of Merit on the ADT, which was inaugurated in 2010 as a gateway to the Asian Tour.

“I can’t explain how happy I am to win the ADT Order of Merit. It’s the first time a Japanese has won the Order of Merit so I feel really honoured. I am so excited for next year,” said the 22-year-old Naoki, who has notched two wins and five top-10s on the ADT this season.

Thailand’s Pannakorn Uthaipas, Donlaphatchai and Itthipat Buranatanyarat would end the season in second (US$29,794), third (US$29,697) and fourth (US$29,672) place respectively on the final Merit rankings.

With Wang, who has already secured his Asian Tour card by finishing inside top-60 on the 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit, finishing fifth on the money list, the remaining three Asian Tour cards will be awarded to England’s Steve Lewton, American Trevor Simsby and Seung Park of Korea, placed sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.

The leading seven players, not otherwise exempted, on the final 2019 ADT Order of Merit following the conclusion of the Taifong Open earned their Asian Tour cards for the 2020 season.

The final round, originally scheduled to start at 7.10am local time, was delayed by 30 minutes three times before officials made the decision to cancel the fourth round of the popular event, which is celebrating its sixth consecutive edition on the ADT.

“After deliberation, the organising committee has decided to cancel the final round due to continuous rain which is expected to last throughout the day and conditions were deemed unplayable due to low visibility,” said Jittisak Tamprasert, Asian Tour Director of Rules & Competitions.

“The 2019 Taifong Open has been shortened to 54 holes and overnight leader Donlaphatchai has been declared the winner of the tournament,” added Jittisak.

Ends.


Thailand’s Donlaphatchai Niyomchon edged closer to a breakthrough victory on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) when he returned with a bogey-free four-under-par 68 to extend his overnight lead to two at the Taifong Open on Saturday.

Changhwa, Chinese Taipei, December 28: Thailand’s Donlaphatchai Niyomchon edged closer to a breakthrough victory on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) when he returned with a bogey-free four-under-par 68 to extend his overnight lead to two at the Taifong Open on Saturday.

The 29-year-old Donlaphatchai, who held the lead since the opening round, highlighted his flawless card with four birdies to stay atop the leaderboard with a three-day total of nine-under-par 207 at the season-ending event, which boasts a prize purse of US$160,000.

His playing partners Atiruj Winaicharoenchai of Thailand and Chinese Taipei’s Tseng Tzu-hsuan posted matching 69s to share second place with Japan’s Daisuke Yasumoto (68) and Wang Wei-lun (67) of Chinese Taipei at the highly acclaimed Taifong Golf Club.

Donlaphatchai took advantage of his accuracy off the tee and his solid iron-play to keep up his chase for one of the seven coveted Asian Tour cards on offer at the event, which is celebrating its sixth consecutive edition on the ADT this week.

“My tee shots were good. I hit 16 greens today. It wasn’t as windy as yesterday. My best hole today was the fifth. I hit the green in two shots and had an eagle putt from about 15 feet,” said Donlaphatchai, who sits in 94th place on the Merit rankings and needs a victory to help him break into top-seven on the final money list.

“I wasn’t thinking too much out there. I just told myself to play shot by shot. It will be the same case tomorrow. I’ll just focus on my game and not think too much,” added Donlaphatchai, who won on his home soil last year for his first professional victory in nine years.

Atiruj lamented a cold putter but took pride in his solid approaches for a commendable round of five birdies against two bogeys. The 19-year-old Thai is playing in his first season on the ADT and making his debut appearance in the Taifong Open this week.

“I played my iron shots really good today, especially on the back nine. Nice to get that three birdies in a row from the 12th. I was able to hit it close. My putting wasn’t as good today. I gave myself a lot of opportunities on the front nine but couldn’t make most of them.

“I am just going to aim for an under-par round tomorrow. A top-five or top-10 finish would be great, said Atiruj, who joined the play-for-pay ranks in 2018 and claimed his first victory on home soil in what was only his second start as a professional.

Local hotshot Wang rekindled his love affair with the Taifong Golf Course when he fired six birdies against a bogey to put himself in the mix for a second ADT title at the event, where he came in runner-up in 2016 and finished top-10 last year.

“I’ve played this course a lot of times. I kind of know how to navigate my way around here. I have had some good results here. Tomorrow I will just try my best but if the weather is not good, I wouldn’t play too aggressively too.”

“Coming into this week, I really have no expectations. I have already achieved my goal of getting my Asian Tour card this year so I’m not thinking too much now. It’s nice to put myself in a good position again for the final round tomorrow,” said the 26-year-old Wang.

The leading seven players, not otherwise exempted, on the final 2019 ADT Order of Merit following the conclusion of the Taifong Open on Sunday will earn their Asian Tour cards for the 2020 season.

Ends.


Overnight leader Donlaphatchai Niyomchon of Thailand stayed on track for his maiden Asian Development Tour (ADT) title after battling to an even-par 72 to retain his one-shot edge at the halfway stage of the Taifong Open on Friday.

Changhwa, Chinese Taipei, December 27: Overnight leader Donlaphatchai Niyomchon of Thailand stayed on track for his maiden Asian Development Tour (ADT) title after battling to an even-par 72 to retain his one-shot edge at the halfway stage of the Taifong Open on Friday.

The 29-year-old Thai, who had opened his campaign with a 67, marked his card with four birdies against two bogeys and a double-bogey in blustery conditions to remain atop the leaderboard with a five-under-par 139 total at the highly acclaimed Taifong Golf Club.

Local prospect Tseng Tzu-hsuan and Thai teenager Atiruj Winaicharoenchai returned with matching rounds of 69s to share second place at the US$160,000 event, which is celebrating its sixth consecutive edition on the ADT this week.

Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat battled to a 72 to lurk two shots off the pace in fourth place alongside compatriot Peradol Panyathanasedh (69), Japan’s Daisuke Yasumoto (68), Singapore’s Gregory Foo (71), local veteran Lien Lu-sen (68) and Korea’s Seung Park (71).

“I fought well today. It was windy and cold out there, very different from yesterday. I didn’t putt as well as I did yesterday but I’m happy to finish well with two birdies in my last three holes,” said Donlaphatchai, who sits in 94th place on the Order of Merit.

Playing in only his seventh start on the ADT this year, Donlaphatchai needs a victory at the season finale to give himself a chance at breaking into top-seven on the final rankings and secure his Asian Tour card for 2020.

Tseng, also chasing for his first ADT win, said: “I hit a lot of greens today. That helped a lot. I made 30 putts in total but I think it’s still alright because the greens are really challenging here. The pin positions are difficult too. I am happy with the way I played today.”

Atiruj, who has claimed three top-five finishes on the ADT this season to sit in 24th place on the Order of Merit, kept up his chase for an Asian Tour card by firing five birdies against two bogeys for a commendable 69.

“I hit it close to the pins and I hit a lot of greens. It was windy and the greens are firm. The game’s trending in the right direction. I hit a very good second shot on the par-five 17th to about 10 feet. Missed the eagle chance there but it’s still a good hole,” said the 19-year-old, who is making his debut appearance in the Taifong Open this week.

A total of 63 players, including one local amateur, survived the halfway cut set at four-over-par 148 in the popular event, which was inaugurated as the richest event on the ADT in 2014.

Defending champion Chan Shih-chang of Chinese Taipei and ADT Order of Merit leader Naoki Sekito of Japan made the cut right on the mark after registering identical rounds of 74 at the 2019 ADT season finale.

The leading seven players, not otherwise exempted, on the final 2019 ADT Order of Merit following the conclusion of the Taifong Open on Sunday will earn their Asian Tour cards for the 2020 season.

Ends.


Thailand’s Donlaphatchai Niyomchon rode a hot putter to sign for an opening five-under-par 67 at the Taifong Open, grabbing a one-shot lead at the season-ending US$160,000 Asian Development Tour (ADT) event on Thursday.

Changhwa, Chinese Taipei, December 26: Thailand’s Donlaphatchai Niyomchon rode a hot putter to sign for an opening five-under-par 67 at the Taifong Open, grabbing a one-shot lead at the season-ending US$160,000 Asian Development Tour (ADT) event on Thursday.

The 29-year-old Thai, who had made only a single cut in his last five starts at the popular event, exceeded his expectations when he returned with an eagle and seven birdies against four bogeys to take his place atop the leaderboard at the Taifong Golf Club.

Buoyed by the comforts of playing on his home course, David Shen of Chinese Taipei holed out for a closing eagle to share second place with tournament debutant Wolmer Murillo of Venezuela on matching 68s in the 2019 ADT season finale.

Thai hotshot Itthipat Buranatanyarat, who sits in third place on the ADT Order of Merit, kept up his chase for the Order of Merit crown by posting a 69 to trail by two shots in fourth place at the event, which is celebrating its sixth consecutive edition on the ADT this week.

“I putted really well today. I think that was what made the difference today. It’s the best round I have ever shot on this course. I am really happy,” said Donlaphatchai, who needed only 25 putts around the greens today.

Shen, who had holed out from 89 yards for an eagle-three on the 18th hole, is playing in his sixth appearance at the Taifong Open this week. He enjoyed a tied-13th place finish in the popular event last year.

“I was able to hit it close today. I played my irons well. Didn’t get lucky on the first three holes but started rolling putts in for birdies on fourth and fifth. Happy to finish with an eagle on the last too,” said Shen, who hails from Changhwa county.

“I putted well and I was accurate with my iron shots. I think I hit like 15 greens today. It was quite windy out there. I started off thinking I should play conservatively today but changed my strategy on a few holes and decided to hit my driver off the tee. That worked out well.

“I was mainly focusing on hitting my irons good today. This is where I practiced for the last eight years. This is my home course and I guess that gave me some advantage. Hitting it good off the tee is the key to play well here,” Shen added.

Murillo, who did not play a practice round this week, battled through a calf injury to return with a round of six birdies against two bogeys. He sits in 30th place on the money list and needs a strong finish to break inside top-seven and secure his Asian Tour card for 2020.

“It’s my first time playing here. It was quite a walk out there but I felt good. I had a calf injury from gym work last week but overall, it was a steady round although I made a couple of mistakes. It’s an interesting golf course,” said the 38-year-old Venezuelan.

“I have been working hard for the last three rounds so I’m very happy with a good round today. It was nice to see on the score card that we have two par-fives to close the round. I made a few key putts, a few long putts like the one on 18th which is probably like 25 feet,” added Murillo, a one-time winner on the ADT.

Play was suspended at 5.45pm local time due to fading light. A total of three players will resume their round at 7.30am on Friday with the second round scheduled to commence at 6.55am as per original plan.

The leading seven players, not otherwise exempted, on the final 2019 ADT Order of Merit following the conclusion of the Taifong Open on Sunday will earn their Asian Tour cards for the 2020 season.

Ends.


Chinese Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang hopes to make his third title defence at the Taifong Open a successful one when he steps up to the tee at the highly acclaimed Taifong Golf Club on Thursday.

Changhwa, Chinese Taipei, December 25: Chinese Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang hopes to make his third title defence at the Taifong Open a successful one when he steps up to the tee at the highly acclaimed Taifong Golf Club on Thursday.

Chan clinched his first professional victory at the Taifong Open when it was held on the local circuit in 2010. He won the tournament again when it came on board the Asian Development Tour (ADT) schedule for the first time in 2014 and was victorious for the third time last year.

The 33-year-old Chan, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, will be bidding for a record seventh victory on the ADT when he gets his title defence underway at the US$160,000 event, which has been the richest tournament on the ADT schedule since its inception five years ago.

“This is where I claimed my professional breakthrough,” said Chan. “I always remember the hard work that I have to put in before claiming my first victory here nine years ago. I feel motivated to play well whenever I come back here.

“I haven’t had much success playing overseas this year but I’m happy to be back playing at home. Winning the event last year gave me a great boost of confidence. I have a lot of good memories here. It’s my lucky winning ground. The greens are looking good this year.

“This will be my seventh straight tournament. I am feeling a little bit worn out to be honest but I’m still looking forward to finishing the year well with a good result this week. I still want to win the tournament and I hope to keep the trophy on home soil,” Chan added.

The race to top the 2019 ADT Order of Merit and finish inside top-seven on the Merit rankings will also reach its climax at the season-ending Taifong Open this week.

With a winner’s prize purse of US$28,000 up for grabs, the stakes are high at the Taifong Golf Club as a total of 120 players from 13 countries will be vying to earn the seven coveted Asian Tour cards on offer for the 2020 season.

Young Korean talent Seung Park, who won the OB Golf Invitational in what was only his second start on the ADT in May, will need a solid performance to break into top-seven on the final Merit rankings and secure his 2020 Asian Tour card.

The 23-year-old Park, who has also won three titles on his domestic secondary circuit this year, sits in eighth place with a season’s haul of US$20,031, thanks to one win and three top-10s on the ADT this season.

“I have had a good year so far. I have learnt a lot from playing on the ADT this year and I have gained a lot of precious experiences as well.

“This week is important for me as I will need a good result to break into top-seven on the Merit rankings. I won’t think too much about that. I will try my best,” said Park, who has also clinched three titles on his domestic circuit’s development Tour this year.

Order of Merit leader Naoki Sekito, who has bagged two wins and five top-10 finishes this season, will take aim at becoming the first ever Japanese player to lift the Order of Merit crown on the ADT, which was launched as a gateway to the Asian Tour in 2010.

He leads the money list by more than US$20,000 with his season’s haul of US$50,278 and is all but guaranteed of his place as Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat, American Trevor Simsby and compatriot Ryuichi Oiwa, placed third, fifth and sixth respectively, all have a mathematical chance to chase him down with a win this week.

Other notable players include Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen-tang, Lu Wei-chih, Hung Chien-yao and Wang Wei-lun, who have all finished inside top-61 on the final 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit last week to secure their playing rights on the region’s premier Tour in 2020.

The Taifong Open, which is celebrating its sixth edition on the ADT this week, returns with great significance as it will be the season finale for the first time on the region’s secondary circuit, bringing the 2019 season to a memorable end.

Ends.

 


Order of Merit leader Naoki Sekito of Japan will be looking to cap a memorable season on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) with a fine showing at the US$160,000 Taifong Open, which gets underway on Thursday.

Changhwa, Chinese Taipei, December 24: Order of Merit leader Naoki Sekito of Japan will be looking to cap a memorable season on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) with a fine showing at the US$160,000 Taifong Open, which gets underway on Thursday.

The race to top the ADT Order of Merit and finish inside top-seven on the Merit rankings will also reach its climax this week at the popular event, which was inaugurated as the richest tournament on the region’s secondary circuit in 2014.

With a winner’s prize purse of US$28,000 up for grabs, the stakes are high at the Taifong Golf Club as a total of 120 players from 13 countries will be vying to earn one of the seven coveted Asian Tour cards on offer for the 2020 season.

The 22-year-old Sekito, who has bagged two wins and five top-10 finishes this season, will take aim at becoming the first ever Japanese player to lift the Order of Merit crown on the ADT, which was launched as a gateway to the Asian Tour in 2010.

“I feel very excited coming into this week. I didn’t expect myself to play so well this season. I have won twice on the ADT and I just got through the Japan Golf Tour Qualifying School two weeks ago. Now that I’ve got my card in Japan, I hope to secure my card on the Asian Tour too.

“It has been a great experience playing on the ADT. I learnt to travel on my own and I get to visit a lot of different countries. I will give it my best again this week. I didn’t come here just to win the Order of Merit. I want to win the event as well,” Sekito said.

He leads the Order of Merit by more than US$20,000 with his season’s haul of US$50,278 and is all but guaranteed of his place as Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat, American Trevor Simsby and compatriot Ryuichi Oiwa, placed third, fifth and sixth respectively, all have a mathematical chance to chase him down with a win this week.

Ittiphat Buranatanyrat of Thailand

Itthipat missed out on his 2020 Asian Tour card after finishing 74th on the final Asian Tour Order of Merit last week. He hopes to make amends by putting up a solid performance at the Taifong Open to cement his position inside top-seven on the ADT money list, thereby regaining his playing rights on the Asian Tour.

“I feel like I’m on a holiday this week. It’s my last event of the year. I just want to enjoy myself. I had a good start to the year, hoping to finish off well too. I’ve played here for a few times now. You need to keep hitting fairways and greens to score out there,” said the 26-year-old Itthipat, who has claimed one win and two top-10s on the ADT this season.

Leunkwang Kim of Malaysia

Leunkwang Kim of Malaysia, who turns 25 years old on Christmas Day Wednesday, hopes to make it a week to remember by breaking into top-seven on the Merit rankings to earn his playing rights on the Asian Tour next season.

“It’s the biggest event on the ADT schedule but I’m just going to treat it like any other tournament. I will continue to do my very best. It’s Christmas week so I’m just going to have as much fun as I can,” said Kim, a one-time winner on the ADT this season.

“It’s my birthday tomorrow. I have never played golf on my birthday but I guess there’s a first for everything. I believe I’m getting more experienced as time goes,” added Kim, who sits in 13th place on the current rankings.

The Taifong Open, which is celebrating its sixth edition on the ADT this week, returns with great significance as it will be the season finale for the first time on the region’s secondary circuit, bringing the 2019 season to a memorable end.

Ends.


Thailand’s Nirun Sae-ueng ended a four-year title drought on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) after defeating local hotshot Gavin Green on the first extra hole at the PGM Maybank Championship on Saturday.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 30: Thailand’s Nirun Sae-ueng ended a four-year title drought on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) after defeating local hotshot Gavin Green on the first extra hole at the PGM Maybank Championship on Saturday.

Nirun and Green both staged a remarkable comeback from six and eight shots back at the start of the day to end regulation play tied on 15-under-par 273 after posting final rounds of six-under-par 66 and 64 respectively at the Saujana Golf and Country Club.

While Green impressed with his flawless round that contained eight birdies to claim the clubhouse lead, it was Nirun who made heads turn when he eagled just when it mattered most, on the 18th, to overturn a two-shot deficit and force  extra-time.

The duo returned to the par-five 18th hole for the play-off battle where Nirun pipped Green with a par against a bogey to triumph at the US$54,000 event.

Thai overnight leader Atiruj Winaicharoenchai failed to convert his commanding four-shot advantage into victory after battling to a 74 to finish sole third on 275, while Amir Nazrin finished one shot further back after closing with a 71.

Nirun admitted that he was left in disbelief when he eagled the last hole.

“I knew it was going to be tough to overtake Gavin, who was two shots clear at the top. For the last hole, I was just trying to finish with a flourish by aiming for a birdie.

“I hit my shot to about 75 yards and tried to chip onto the green. I didn’t think it would go in!

“I didn’t notice it went in as the pin was behind the hill. I only realised I made the eagle when I heard the loud cheers and fellow players came to congratulate me as I approached the green.

“But the eagle on the 18th really set me up well for the extra hole. Gavin would have a great advantage as he’s capable of hitting it real far. I just focused on my game, put the ball on the fairway, and then the third shot to the green. 

“I two-putted for the win after Gavin failed in his chip-in attempt and missed the putt as well,” said Nirun, who pocketed US$9,529 to move from 51st to 19th on the Order of Merit.

Having collected US$14,842 from nine starts, Nirun has set his sights on claiming a big share of the season-ending US$160,000 Taifong Open in Chinese Taipei next month to make his last-ditch bid to crack into the top-seven.

“The victory has opened up the opportunity for me to try sneak into the top seven.. The Taifong Open is a big money event and I can still earn my Asian Tour card if I could finish top three there.

“Winning my first ADT title in four years has restored my confidence and ambition,” he said.

Maybank ambassador Green was meanwhile philosophical in his defeat.

“I’m disappointed in the playoff of course but I had a good final round. Putts went in and I hit it great to make 17 out 18 greens, I would say it’s still a solid week.

“I have been working really hard on some stuff with the swing and I’m liking the way I’m striking it. It’s a great preparations for the next year’s Maybank Championship, that’s for sure,” said Green.

Order of Merit leader Naoki Sekito of Japan could only manage to finish tied 30th but it was good enough for him to keep himself at the top on US$50,278, giving him a US$21,000 cushion over second-placed Pannakorn Uthaipas of Thailand (US$29,794).

But with the Taifong Open offering a top prize worth US$28,000, as many as six contenders including seventh-placed Kosuke Hamamoto of Japan (US$22,449) can still topple Sekito to become the ADT number one.


Atiruj Winaicharoenchai of Thailand is on the brink of securing his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) victory after firing a seven-under-par 65 on Friday to take a four-shot lead into the final round at the PGM Maybank ADT Championship.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 29: Atiruj Winaicharoenchai of Thailand is on the brink of securing his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) victory after firing a seven-under-par 65 on Friday to take a four-shot lead into the final round at the PGM Maybank ADT Championship.

Atiruj, nicknamed the Dragon, notched seven birdies in his bogey-free scorecard to reach the 54-hole mark at 15-under-par 201 at the Saujana Golf and Country Club.

Local star Amir impressed with a 68 to give himself another shot at chasing for a maiden ADT victory after coming close with a runner-up finish in Indonesia last year.

Thailand’s Sarit Suwannarit settled a further shot back in third following a 69 while compatriot Nirun Sae-ueng takes fourth place on 207.

Shinichi Mizuno of Japan, Suttijet Kooratanapisan of Thailand and Matt Killen of England, who shared the third-round lead with Atiruj, faded away after mustering matching 72s to trail by six shots in fifth position.

“I continued to hit it very well especially my approach shots. I managed to find the green 16 time today and all my seven birdies were within 15 feet,” said the 19-year-old Atiruj.

“If I keep playing the way I did today, I believe the victory is within my reach. My goal is to shoot a three-under and hopefully that will be good enough to earn me my breakthrough on the ADT.

“If I can do that, it will be such a good achievement considering I have just turned pro last year. This will stand me in good stead ahead of the Asian Tour Q-School next year where I hope to earn my card,” added the young Thai.

“If I can do that, it will be such a good achievement considering I have just turned pro last year. This will stand me in good stead ahead of the Asian Tour Q-School next year where I hope to earn my card,” added the young Thai.


Thailand’s Suttijet Kooratanapisan shot a solid successive four-under-par 68 to claim a share of the second round clubhouse lead at the PGM Maybank ADT Championship with countryman Atiruj Winaicharoenchai, Shinichi Mizuno of Japan and Matt Killen of England on Thursday.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 28: Thailand’s Suttijet Kooratanapisan shot a solid successive four-under-par 68 to claim a share of the second round clubhouse lead at the PGM Maybank ADT Championship with countryman Atiruj Winaicharoenchai, Shinichi Mizuno of Japan and Matt Killen of England on Thursday.

Suttijet, a one-time Asian Development Tour (ADT) winner, kept his hopes of winning his first title of the season alive when he traded seven birdies against three bogeys at the Saujana Golf and Country Club.

Joint first round leaders Mizuno, the defending champion and Atiruj both maintained their position atop the leaderboard following matching 70s to share the lead with Killen (68) on an eight-under-par 136 total.

Local hopeful Amir Nazrin (69) was among the three players tied in fourth-place, just one shot adrift. Maybank ambassador Gavin Green, too, gave the home fans something to cheer about as he bounced back with an improved 68 to move to three-way tie for ninth on 139.

The second round of the US$54,000 tournament, which is the second last stop of the 2019 ADT schedule, was halted at 5.34pm local time due to lightning threat. A total of 28 players will return to complete their second round at 7.30am on Friday.

Suttijet is hoping to translate his recent good form into a second victory on the ADT. His sole triumph was at the PGM Palm Resort Championship in 2016.

Prior to this week, Suttijet had performed well in his last two Asian Tour starts, finishing tied 23rd at the Panasonic Open India and tied 12th at the Sabah Masters.

“I love playing in Malaysia. It feels like playing back home, the grass and green is very similar to the golf courses in Thailand.

“It was also in Malaysia three years that I earned my breakthrough on the ADT. Hopefully I’ll be able to end my title drought here too,” said Suttijet.

Teeing off from the 10th hole, Suttijet made a modest start when he mixed three birdies with two bogeys to turn in 35.

He then stepped up his game, firing four birdies in the next eight holes before a closing bogey prevented him from securing an outright lead.

“I hit my approach shots very well today and gave myself lots of birdie chances which I converted. The course is narrow, hitting a good first shot is equally crucial too.

“The best birdie I had was at the hole 18. My third shot went past the green a little bit, but I made a good chip in there.

“As for the last hole, I didn’t hit it as straight as I wanted before the second shot landed in the bunker. I actually recovered well with my shot rolled quite close to the hole, but I missed the putt.

“But that’s no big deal. There’s still two days left,” he said.

The leading seven players on the ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2019 season.

Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points are offered for all ADT events. The winner will earn a total of six OWGR points while the top-six players and ties earn points on a sliding scale.


Malaysian ace Gavin Green will lend his star credentials to the PGM Maybank ADT Championship when it gets underway at the Saujana Golf and Country Club on Wednesday.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 26: Malaysian ace Gavin Green will lend his star credentials to the PGM Maybank ADT Championship when it gets underway at the Saujana Golf and Country Club on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old, who is the ASEAN ambassador of the Malaysian banking giants Maybank, will make his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) appearance in more than two years when he headlines the US$54,000 tournament, which is the penultimate stop of the season.

Green, who has been mainly competing on the European Tour this season, is thrilled to be playing again in the region’s secondary circuit where he had won three times, including being the first amateur winner following his victory in 2014.

Green secured his Asian Tour promotion by finishing second on the ADT Order of Merit in 2016 and his career has gone from strength to strength ever since.

He impressed right away in his debut season, bagging a title and three runner-up finishes to be crowned the 2017 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion.

“It will certainly bring back some good memories, the ADT was where it all started for me after I turned pro in 2015. I’m happy to be able to play this week.

“It’s a great circuit and very competitive too,” said Green, who has also signed up for next month’s Thailand Masters on the Asian Tour as he seeks to end the year on a high.

The world No. 243 Green is also eying the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points at stake in the tournament to boost his position whilst doing his part for Maybank.

“I will certainly not say no to the ranking points.

However, more importantly, this is the Maybank leg of the ADT and it’s a good opportunity for me as their ASEAN ambassador to play in this event.

“It will be nice to do well as this will definitely help in preparing for the Maybank Championship next year. I like this (Palm) course and I had a lot of good memories playing here,” said Green.

The local contingent also comprises of newly-wed Nicholas Fung and Ben Leong, both winners on the Asian Tour.

They will battle for the US$9,529 top prize with the likes of Japanese duo – current Order of Merit leader Naoki Sekito and last year’s champion Shinichi Mizuno, as well as the other top performers of the season such as Thailand’s Pannakorn Uthaipas, England’s Steve Lewton and American Trevor Simsby.

But all eyes will be on Sekito, who is hoping to edge closer to the Order of Merit victory with yet another strong result.

Sekito was playing catch up in second place to Korea’s Joohyung Kim before the latter’s made his Asian Tour breakthrough at the Panasonic Open India a fortnight ago. .

Kim, who won his third AT title this season in Pakistan last month to earn playing rights on the Asian Tour for the remainder of the season, secured a one-year winner’s exemption on the Asian Tour following his victory.

Having secured his Asian Tour card for 2020, the 17-year-old teen sensation will no longer feature on the ADT Order of Merit as he will not be eligible for any of the remaining ADT events this season.

Sekito, who amassed US$49,827 to date, leads by more than US$20,000 from second-placed Pannakorn (US$29,293).

“I didn’t expect to be back on top again! Fortunately my friend Kim earned Asian Tour breakthrough recently and this paved way for me to lead the money list once more, after losing it to Kim earlier on.

“I was so happy for Kim and he inspired me a lot. I’ve played with him in a lot of tournaments this year and the guy has already won on Asian Tour! I feel like I’m not too far from it too.

“But for now my goal is to win the OOM to secure a better exemption status on Asian Tour next year.

“I know I’m getting close to it and just need solid finish this week. No Japanese has done it before, so I’ll be so happy if I can accomplish the goal for my country,” said Sekito.

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