Kang revels in Malaysian win

 

Anthony Kang of the United States revelled in the biggest win of his career after rolling home a short birdie on the final hole to claim a one-stroke victory at the Maybank Malaysian Open. The 36-year-old began the final round two shots behind overnight leader Adam Blyth of Australia but his closing five-under-par 67 at Saujana Golf and Country Club’s Palm Course saw him emerge from a tightly-bunched field to win the €1.6million event.

“It feels wonderful,” said the American, who finished with a 17-under-par 271 total for the tournament, co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.

“I’ve been playing in Malaysia since 1996 or 1997 so to finally win this event, I’m speechless. This feels like where I started to play golf so to win this tournament is just beyond beautiful.”

With his late birdie, Kang avoided a possible five-way play-off with the English duo of David Horsey (64) and Miles Tunnicliff (68), Jyoti Randhawa of India (66) and Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng (68), who finished tied for second on 16 under.

Ireland’s Gareth Maybin had nine birdies but bogeyed his final hole for a six-under 66 as he finished alone in sixth on 15 under. Peter Lawrie carded a 72 to finish on nine under.

Anthony Kim of the United States, the highest-ranked player in the field, finished in a tie for 33rd on seven under after closing with a five-under-par 67.

Kang moved up the leaderboard early on with three birdies on the front nine and was two shots in front of the field on 17 under after further birdies on the 11th and 13th.

But the Asian Tour regular dropped a stroke on the 15th after putting his approach shot into the pond fronting the green. It was the only blemish on the final 54 holes for Kang, who was 12 strokes off the lead after shooting a two-over 74 in the opening round.

“The last three rounds is probably the best golf I’ve played so far. I think I made only one bogey which was on the 15th hole today,” he said.

“After I hit it into the water there, I dropped it in the drop zone and just told myself to try to just finish it off with a bogey and regardless of what happened I told myself that I was playing great golf and had nothing to put my hand down about.

“Fortunately I hit a good shot in there, made a bogey and was still in the lead.”

He parred the next two holes to arrive at the par-five 18th in a tie for the lead with Horsey, Randhawa and Prayad but gave himself a chance to secure the outright win by reaching the green in two.

His eagle putt from nearly 70 feet came up just short but after Prayad missed his birdie putt, the American was able to tap in to secure the victory.

“I’ve been driving the ball very well on 18 all week so I felt very comfortable on the tee box. I knew that in today’s conditions, I could probably get there in two if I hit two super shots in.

“I hit my drive on the fairway a bit more right than I wanted to and it was a little farther than yesterday. My caddie said you’ve got to go for it, you can’t do anything else. I then two-putted for birdie.”

Horsey did not appear to be in contention after a bogey on the ninth left him eight strokes off the lead but the 23-year-old made a brilliant charge on the back nine with seven birdies for an eight-under 64 that gave him his best result so far on the European Tour.

“I am pleased. I would have certainly taken that score at the start of the day but then there is a little bit of disappointment not to win having gone so close,” said the winner of last year’s Challenge Tour.

“I am very pleased with how I have applied myself. I was disappointed with my performance in Dubai (a missed cut) but I came here with no expectations and things started to happen.”

Tunnicliff finished strongly with three birdies on his last four holes for a round of 68.

“It was pretty close. I played well and couldn’t have done much more about it myself,” said the 40-year-old, whose last European Tour win came at the 2004 Diageo Championship at Gleneagles.