KUCHING: Anis Helmi won his first PGM Tour title when he came from behind to clinch the RM150,000 PGM Clearwater Classic at the Clearwater Sanctuary Golf Resort in Batu Gajah, Perak yesterday.
Sitting behind the leader, or leaders, in each of the first three rounds, Helmi played his best golf yet en route to shooting a 69 for a 14-under-par 274 total that gave him a one-stroke winning margin over first round leader R Nachimuthu (69) and Haziq Hamizan, who closed with a seven-under 65.
Rizal Amin was fourth on 12-under after a last round 69, while overnight leader Iain Steel and Nicholas Fung, who led after the second round, were joint fifth on 277.
Shaifubari Muda and Nicholas Pua were tied for seventh on eight-under-par, and Azman Basharuddin, who shot a brilliant six-under 66, and Hans Jamil (68) were joint ninth on 283.
In many respects, the 15th hole yesterday proved crucial to the outcome as Steel double-bogeyed the par-4, which effectively snuffed out his chances of landing the title.
It was also a deserving victory for Helmi who showed great composure throughout the week and came through on the last day when it mattered most.
The win, though, left him speechless.
Indeed, he said afterwards: “I am speechless. I am so happy I managed to close out this win as I gave it my all.”
He added that he had contemplated quitting the game recently, but just hung in there and yesterday it was rewarding that he did not walk away from the sport.
“At one point in the last few months I almost gave up (golf). When I missed the cut at the CCM Rahman Putra Masters I was down and thinking about leaving it. But I decided to give it another try and to work on my game. I went to Thailand and spent some time training and sorting out my game.
“I came back and played well at the Sime Darby Harvard Masters and Northport Glenmarie Classic, and today I won, so I am really very happy with the way things have worked out.
“I also decided to go back to my old clubs – Ping i20 from the Glenmarie Northport event and since then everything just worked well. I am very comfortable with my old clubs.
Helmi’s father, who was on hand to witness the win, said: “It has finally paid off for him. We as a family have put in a lot of hours and effort, and the main contributing factor is his brother (and coach) Noel who has helped him out with his game.”
Joint second R. Nachimuthu did not appear too disappointed. “I am very happy with my game. This has given me a good feel as we are heading into the Malaysian Open next week,” he said.
“I hope to do well there as we now have a good local Tour. The quality of the PGM Tour is also good as we see so many different winners. Helmi’s winning with a score of 14-under-par is very well done and I must say is very good for this course condition.
Haqiz, meanwhile, said: “I am just very happy with the way I finished this week (68-67-65). This is probably my best finish so far and I always like Clearwater. I have always had good vibes about this place.”
“I have been playing well lately it’s just that I haven’t been putting well. But this week my putting and everything else just seemed to click and I like the fact that I had bogey-free rounds over the last three days,” he added.
Leading Final Round Scores
274 – Anis Helmi 68-69-68-69
275 – R Nachimuthu 67-70-69-69, Haziq Hamizan 75-68-67-65
276 – Rizal Amin 69-70-68-69
277 – Iain Steel 73-64-67-73, Nicholas Fung 71-65-69-72
280 – Shaifubari Muda 71-72-69-68, Nicholas Pua 73-69-70-68
283 – Azman Basharuddin 69-71-77-66, Hans Jamil 70-72-73-68
284 – Wilson Choo 73-71-70-70, Amli Mohiyadeen 73-71-69-71, Airil Rizman 73 70-70-71, Lim Eng Seng 74-68-69-73.