16th March 2019 | Asian Development Tour
Higa storms to commanding victory
Johor, Malaysia, March 16: Japan’s Kazuki Higa secured his second Asian Development Tour (ADT) title with a superb seven-under-par 65 in the final round of the PGM UMW ADT Championship on Saturday.
The 23-year-old Higa finished tied-second at the Palm Resort Golf and Country Club last week but made sure he would not take another runner-up finish when he cruised to a six-shot victory at the same venue with his four-day winning total of 22-under-par 266.
Compatriot Naoki Sekito signed for a 67 to share second place with overnight leader Shintaro Kobayashi who closed with a disappointing 72 at the RM225,000 (approximately US$54,000) event.
Malaysian’s Ben Leong was the highest-placed local when he ended his campaign with a 72 to finish in tied-fourth with four other players.
Starting the day one shot off the pace, Higa dropped a shot on his second hole but recovered quickly with a birdie on hole three. He went on to nail birdies on holes six, eight and nine to make the turn in 33.
“I wasn’t happy with how I was hitting it yesterday so I did some work at the range after my game and it really helped my round today. I stayed consistent and was hitting shots exactly how I wanted to,” said Higa, who claimed his maiden ADT victory last April in Bangladesh.
The Japanese trusted his abilities and extended his advantage with further birdies on holes 11, 12, 16 and 18 for a 32 in his homeward nine.
“I knew I was so close to getting a win last week and that really gave me the motivation I needed to get the job done today. I just told myself to trust myself and not think about how other people were playing,” added Higa, who moved up to third place on the Merit rankings.
He took home the winner’s prize purse of US$9,627.23 and received six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points while the other top six players and ties earned points based on a sliding scale.
The 21-year-old Sekito took pride in his joint runner-up finish which was also his personal-best finish on the ADT since his tied-fourth result in October last year.
“I was hitting my driver and long irons really well and was pretty consistent all week. I only missed three greens today and my only two mistakes were on holes five and 15 when I three-putted for bogey,” said the Japanese, who resides in Hiroshima.
Focusing on the ADT this year, Sekito aims to finish inside the top-seven on the final ADT Order of Merit to earn playing rights on the Asian Tour for the 2020 season.
“This week really boosted my confidence. I am glad that all my hard work that I did back home is paying off and now my goal is to finish inside the top-seven on the ADT,” added the Japanese, who traded eight birdies against three bogeys.
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Leading final round scores:
266 – Kazuki Higa 68 65 68 65
272 – Naoki Sekito 69 67 69 67, Shintaro Kobayashi 71 67 62 72
275 – Itthipat Buranatanyarat 69 69 71 66, Kwanchai Tannin 71 70 67 67, Joohyung Kim 68 70 68 69, Suttijet Kooratanapisan 68 66 70 71, Ben Leong 65 69 69 72
276 – Kasidit Lepkurte 70 69 68 69, Kerry Sweeney 67 66 71 72