KUCHING: Airil Rizman won for the first time this season when he comfortably claimed the RM180,000 PGM Swiss-Garden Closed Championship title in Lumut, Perak yesterday.
The Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour Player of the Year carved out a massive 10-stroke victory at Damai Laut Golf & Country Club after shooting a fourth and final day 67 that gave him a 14-under 274 total. There was a two-way tie for second place as Ben Leong and Sabah teenager Solomon Emilio finished on four-under-par 284. Another Sabahan Nicholas Fung came back strongly to finish in a tie for third after opening with a 74.
He shot a last day 69 for a 287 total, alongside Lam Yu Shuen, who closed with a 70. Rashid Ismail was even-par for the tournament, following a 74 yesterday. He finished alone in sixth place. Kemarol Baharin (71) and Hans Jamil (72) were joint seventh on 289. Pleased with his triumph, Airil said: “I am happy to have done it at last … I have come close on several occasions this season, as I said before, but was unable to finish off the job. “But here I did it and I am just happy it’s over. Now I can look forward to moving on and trying to play better and more consistently.”
Airil, who won three times last year en route to nailing down the Player of the Year award when he topped the 2014 PGM Order of Merit, got off to a hot start yesterday and was three-under over the first four holes, birdie-birdie-par-birdie. He gave a shot back at the par-4 6th hole, but that would be his one and blemish. He added birdies at the 9th, 10th and 12th holes, to secure the biggest margin on the Tour in this campaign – making it a fine start to the resumption of the circuit, following the mid-season break.
After matching Airil’s low round of the tournament today (67), which left him 10-over for the event, young Abel Tam said: “It really feels good to have played that well as I have been struggling with my fitness, which has affected my play over the past few months.
“I injured my wrist again in March and it has hampered my game. But the month-long mid-season break gave me a chance to rest it and it has definitely helped.
“I was 15-over for the first three days here (in Damai Laut GCC) but it all came together today and it is very encouraging.
I hope my wrist stays pain-free to allow me the chance to build on today’s performance. “Overall, I played well as I struck the ball solidly and I putted reasonably well too,” added the lad who turns 23 in less than two weeks’ time. The PGM tour’s next stop is the RM180,000 Taiping Closed Championship starting next Wednesday (July 29) at Taiping Golf & Country Club.