Steady Panuwat fights back to win PGM Darulaman Championship

golf icon isn 2Jitra, Kedah: Thailand’s Panuwat Muenlek rode on his fine start to close with a solid six-under-par 66 and secure his second Asian Development Tour (ADT) victory at the PGM Darulaman Championship on Saturday.

The 30-year-old Thai, who had held the lead for the first two rounds, fired an eagle on the first hole and added five birdies against a lone bogey to win by three shots on 15-under-par 273 total at the Darulaman Golf and Country Club.

Compatriot Chanat Sakulpolphaisan returned with a bogey-free 67 to take second place while American Johannes Veerman (67), Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai (69) and India’s Shubhankar Sharma (70) shared third on 277 at the RM200,000 (approximately US$46,600) event.

Overnight co-leaders John Catlin (72) of the United States, local duo Irfan Yusoff (73) and Airil Rizman (74) settled for sixth, tied-seventh and tied-ninth places respectively at the PGM Darulaman Championship.

Despite slipping out of the lead following a third round 73, Panuwat kept his head high to put up a stellar performance in the final round, taking advantage of his hot start where he nailed an eagle on the par-five first hole for the second time this week.

“I hit a good drive and a good second shot with a four-iron from 213 yards which landed four-feet from the pin. I sank the putt and made an eagle there. It was a superb start for me. It gave me a lot of confidence heading into the round. I kept telling myself I can do it,” said Panuwat, who was one shot back heading into the round.

After nailing an eagle on the first, Panuwat went on to birdie the fourth and fifth holes to turn in 34. He nailed three more birdies on his way home but stumbled with a bogey on the last for his only blemish of the day.

“Everything was good for me today. I was nervous but I hung in there. I have won before and I know I can do it again,” added Panuwat, who will take home the winner’s prize purse of US$8,750 and receive six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points.

Panuwat moved to 11th place on the current ADT Order of Merit led by compatriot and former Merit champion Pavit Tangkamolprasert, who won his fifth ADT title in Chinese Taipei last week.

The ADT will continue to reward the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit at the end of this season with Asian Tour cards for 2017.

Like all other ADT events, the PGM Darulaman Championship will offer Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, which will be key for players vying to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this August.

Leading final round scores:

273 - Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) 65 69 73 66
276 - Chanat SAKULPOLPHAISAN (THA) 67 72 70 67
277 - Johannes VEERMAN (USA) 71 69 70 67, Suradit YONGCHAROENCHAI (THA) 69 71 68 69, Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 70 70 67 70
278 - John CATLIN (USA) 69 71 66 72
279 - Chikkarangappa. S (IND) 71 71 70 67, Irfan YUSOFF (MAS) 69 69 68 73
280 - Wisut ARTJANAWAT (THA) 74 71 66 69, James BYRNE (SCO) 67 73 71 69, Danny MASRIN (INA) 67 69 73 71, Gavin GREEN (MAS) 68 69 72 71, Nick SHERWOOD (USA) 67 72 70 71, Itthipat BURANATANYARAT (THA) 69 71 69 71, Pasamet POGAMNERD (THA) 70 70 69 71, Airil Rizman ZAHARI (MAS) 71 67 68 74
281 - Dodge KEMMER (USA) 71 71 69 70, CAO Yi (CHN) 72 71 67 71, John Michael O'TOOLE (USA) 69 68 71 73
282 - Danny CHIA (MAS) 70 72 71 69, Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 71 70 72 69, Ben LEONG (MAS) 72 72 65 73
283 - K P LIN (TWN) 73 70 70 70, Nirun SAE-UENG (THA) 73 71 69 70