Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Sekito on cusp of second ADT win

Aug 01. 2019
Naoki Sekito
Naoki Sekito
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By The Nation

 A blistering back nine 31 highlighted by five birdies in-a-row saw Japan’s Naoki Sekito romp to a massive eight-shot lead following the penultimate round of the US$75,000 Gunung Geulis Golf Invitational supported by Nomura on Thursday.


Sekito, who had held the lead since the opening round, never let anyone come close to him as he marked the day’s lowest round with a six-under-par 64 and extended his dominance atop the leaderboard to a 17-under-par 193 total at the Gunung Geulis Golf and Country Club.

Thailand’s Kwanchai Tannin recorded a second straight 66 to take second place while Gregory Foo of Singapore posted a solid 65 to move to third place on 205. Thailand’s Atiruj Winaicharoenchai settled a further shot back in fourth following a second straight 68.

The 21-year-old Sekito started his round in style by draining a 30-footer for birdie on the par-four first hole. He would make another birdie on seven and drop a shot on nine before setting the back nine on fire with five straight birdies from the 10th hole.

“I got off to a good start today and that boosted my confidence heading into the round. I actually hit a bad second shot so I was really happy to make that long birdie putt on that hole,” said Sekito, the current Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit leader.

“I don’t want to think about winning just yet. My target is to finish 20-under-par. It’s been a great season for me so far. I will continue to do the same for tomorrow and we will see how it goes,” added Sekito, who had set a new course record with his opening 62 before carding a 67 to seize a four-shot lead heading into the third round.

Sekito took advantage of his impeccable short game which sparked his hot run with a tap-in birdie on 10th and an eight-footer downhill birdie putt on 11th before chipping it close to set up another birdie on the 12th hole.

Sekito, who is chasing for his second ADT title, found the green in two shots on the par-five 13th hole before making two putts for birdie. He would go on to roll a 10-footer in for his fifth consecutive birdie on the par-four 14th hole.

After turning professional at the start of 2018, Sekito attempted to secure his Asian Tour card at the Qualifying School but an unsuccessful bid saw him switch his focus to the ADT, where he missed only three cuts in 13 starts and notched a top-five result.

Sekito endured another futile attempt at the 2019 Qualifying School but an invite to the PGM UMW ADT Championship in March turned his career around as he capped a commendable joint runner-up finish in what was his first start on the ADT this season.

He would extend his fine form to the PGM ADT Penang Championship in April where he claimed a one-shot victory for his first ADT title and the Butra Heidelberg Cement Brunei Championships the following week, where he finished solo second.

Sekito continued to taste success on the region’s secondary circuit as he notched another tied-second place finish in Malaysia last month to take over the Order of Merit lead from Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat.

The Gunung Geulis Golf Invitational supported by Nomura is the Tour’s second stop in Indonesia this season and the Gunung Geulis Golf and Country Club is hosting an ADT event for the third time since it first opened in 1992.

Leading round three scores:

193 - Naoki Sekito 62 67 64

201 - Kwanchai Tannin 69 66 66

205 - Gregory Foo 71 69 65

206 - Atiruj Winaicharoenchai 70 68 68

207 - Chinnarat Phadungsil 71 69 67, Chonlatit Chuenboonngam 69 69 69, Miguel Carballo 66 72 69, Shinichi Mizuno 65 71 71, Pannakorn Uthaipas 68 67 72, Poom Pattaropong 65 70 72, Shae Wools-Cobb 67 66 74

208 - Hyukchul Shin 68 73 67, Rory Hie 69 70 69, Peradol Panyathanasedh 69 68 71, Daniel Fox 71 65 72

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