Monday, August 19, 2019

Sekito celebrates breakthrough

Apr 20. 2019
Naoki Sekito of Japan
Naoki Sekito of Japan
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By Agencies

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Penang, Malaysia -  Japan’s Naoki Sekito captured his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) victory with a four-under-par 68 in the final round of the PGM ADT Penang Championship on Saturday.

 

The 21-year-old Japanese compiled a four-day total of 17-under-par 271 to win by one shot over Malaysia’s Danny Chia (66) and American Sam Gillis (68) who were tied for second at the RM225,000 (approximately US$54,000) event.

American Trevor Simsby and Malaysia’s Amir Nazrin carded matching 69s to take the fourth and fifth spots respectively at the Bukit Jawi Golf Resort.

Sekito entered the final round with a one-shot lead, but relinquishes that lead when he dropped a shot on his very first hole.

“I bogeyed my first hole after I pushed my tee shot to the right and had to chip out from behind the trees. But after that bogey, I was less nervous because I wasn’t the sole leader so I knew I could keep chasing,” said Sekito.

With the pressure of his spirited rivals off his back, he held his nerves to stay bogey-free for the rest of the round, notching birdies on holes two, seven, 10, 12, and 15.

“Right after that hole, I made a birdie putt from six feet which gave me that extra boost. I wasn’t hitting the ball very well but I was very lucky on my back nine. I chipped in on hole 12 from 20 yards for birdie and had another good birdie putt from 10 metres on hole 15,” said the young Japanese.

With his victory, Sekito took home a winner’s purse of US$9,529.28 and received six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points while the other top six players and ties earned points based on a sliding scale.

“I told myself in January, that my goal was to win on the ADT and get into the top-seven on the Order of Merit. Now that I have won I am really happy and I can’t wait to call my family and tell them,” added Sekito, who moved up to take the fifth spot on the ADT Order of Merit.

Two-time Asian Tour winner Chia was thrilled to rediscover his form with a new putter in the bag this week. He traded two bogeys against eight birdies to enjoy his first top-10 finish in two years since his joint runner-up result on the ADT in July of 2017.

“I’m very happy with how I played this week, it has been awhile since I have had a top-10 finish. It was an up-and-down round where I had a good run of birdies from holes three to seven but three-putted on hole eight for bogey.

“Overall I am putting well and this week was a confidence boost. I can see the changes since I switched my putter and I am playing more consistent golf,” added Chia, who won his fourth ADT title in 2016.

The leading seven players on the final ADT Order of Merit will earn playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2020 season.

Leading final round scores:

271 - Naoki Sekito 70 69 64 68

272 - Danny Chia 70 70 66 66, Sam Gillis 70 67 67 68

274 - Trevor Simsby 67 71 67 69

275 - Amir Nazrin 65 75 66 69

277 - Nirun Sae-Ueng 67 69 72 69

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