Thai Panuwat Reigns at Saujana

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Panuwat Muenlekovercame a strong challenge from fellow-Thai Kasidit Lepkurte to win the weather-shortened PGM GlobalOne Championship.

The duo were neck-and-neck until Panuwat made a birdie on the 17th to gain a two-shot lead over the Bunga Raya course at Saujana Golf and Country Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

Panuwat went on to claim his fourth Asian Development Tour (ADT) title after closing with a five-under-par 67 for a three-round total of 206 – one in front of Kasidit.

Kasidit, who won his first ADT title last month, settled for second place despite making birdie on the 18th hole at the RM200,000 (about US$44,600) event.

Thais Namchok Tantipokhakul (67) and Pitipat Pitimana-Aree (68) shared third place alongside Scotsman James Byrne, who returned with a 71.

Panuwat said: “I was pretty confident today since my game felt good going into this tournament. I didn’t think about the score at all even though I was aware that I was tied with Kasidit on the 17th hole.

“I feel good about how I played. My irons were accurate and I gave myself a lot of birdie chances.”

Panuwat credited his return to winner’s circle on a much-needed holiday with his wife and children.

“After the tournament in Perak two weeks ago, I took a break. I feel much more rested and I think that was key to my win. I feel very good about finally winning on the ADT this year and my main goal is still to try and get into the top five on the ADT Order of Merit,” said Panuwat, who rose to sixth place in the Merit standings.

Panuwat took home a cheque for US$8,265. He now and trails fifth placed Nattawat Suvajanakorn by slightly more than US$2,000. He will have two more events to try and break into the top-five on the Order of Merit. The leading five players in the final ranking will earn an Asian Tour card for 2018.

Held for the first time at Saujana, the event was shortened to 54 holes when 11 hours was lost due to lightning threats.

Panuwat went into the final round two shots behind second round leader Johnson Poh of Singapore, who closed with a 75 to finish in tied-14th place.