Photo - Asian Tour
UNHERALDED SIDDIKUR SECURES HISTORIC WIN AT BRUNEI OPEN
Bandar Seri Begawan: Siddikur became the first Bangladeshi to win on the Asian Tour after defeating South Africa’s Jbe Kruger in a nerve-racking play-off at the Brunei Open on Sunday.
Siddikur secured his historic career breakthrough with a par on the first extra hole as Kruger missed a 10-foot putt on the par four 18th hole at the Empire Hotel and Country Club.
The unheralded man from Dhaka, who was the co-overnight leader, had earlier bogeyed the last hole in regulation play for a four-under-par 67 to slip into the play-off with Kruger who established the clubhouse target of 16-under-par 268 in the US$300,000 full field Asian Tour tournament.
Filipino Juvic Pagunsan secured third place after a sizzling 64 for 269 while India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, last year’s runner-up, was a stroke back in 270. English duo Nick Redfern and Simon Griffiths shared fifth place on 271 while Malaysia’s Ben Leong, tied for the third round lead with Siddikur, finished a disappointing tied 10th after a closing 73.
“It is very exciting. I’m the first Bangladeshi to play on the Asian Tour and in the two years that I’m on Tour, I have won a tournament. It is unbelievable,” said Siddikur, who earned his Tour card from Qualifying School in 2009.
“I didn’t expect to win. Thankfully, everything in my game clicked and I was able to win,” added Siddikur.
As a boy, he grew up from humble beginnings and worked as a ball boy in a Dhaka golf club to pay for his school fees. He learned the game by fashioning his first golf club with a seven iron head on a piece of metal rod.
Siddikur showed signs of a breakthrough at the Queen’s Cup in Thailand in June where he was in contention before settling for a career first top-10 on the Asian Tour, the region’s elite professional circuit.
“I hope to inspire more people to take up the game of golf in Bangladesh. This is a good victory for me and my country,” said Siddikur.
Siddikur, who shot a hole in one in the second round, got off to a strong start when he brilliantly eagled the par four first hole followed by birdies on two, four and 13. His only blemish came on the last hole when he failed to sink a 15 feet putt for the outright victory.
A battling Kruger, playing in the penultimate group behind Siddikur, charged up the leaderboard when he brilliantly turned in 30 but posted a double bogey on the 11th hole before battling back with birdies on 12 and 17 to set the clubhouse mark.
The diminutive South African, who claimed his best Asian Tour finish, was disappointed to finish second but was gracious in defeat. “It is always disappointing when you lose in a play-off but to finish second is a good result in any tournament. I feel that I’m getting better and I’m confident of landing my first win in Asia soon,” said Kruger.
Pagunsan claimed his second successive top-10 finish on the Asian Tour and credited his hot putter after sinking seven birdies.
“I think I could have gone lower. My putting was very good. I have always performed well on this golf course and I hope that my next Asian Tour victory will come soon,” said Pagunsan, who made 25 putts today.