Ervin Chang will remember Kuching and the Mirai Cup for a long time, after securing his first professional win by a sensational six shots at the Sarawak Golf Club here today.
The 24-year-old from Kajang carded a one-under 71 to finish with a three-day 205 aggregate, outlasting his playing partners Shahriffuddin Ariffin who finished runner-up after a 73 and Paul San whose 76 dropped him down the ladder to seventh. For his victory, Chang took home RM31,500.
The Mirai Cup was the second leg of the Toyota Tour presented by UMW Toyota Motor.
Galven Green and Khor Kheng Hwai moved up to joint third placing three strokes behind Shahriffuddin with matching 72s. Danial Faidz played two-under to finish alone in 5th (216) followed by R. Nachimuthu one stroke adrift.
Chang led Shahriffuddin by four shots overnight but he wasn’t expecting to win by six shots. “I practice with Shahriffuddin and Paul regularly, as we’re ambassadors for Saujana GCC. Moreover, Shahriffuddin equalled the course record with a 65 yesterday so I knew he was capable of closing the gap.
“It’s an incredible feeling for me, this being my first win as a professional. I hope to build on this momentum and play in as many Toyota Tour events as possible,” he added. “Toyota has been wonderful for our Malaysian professionals… their commitment to the tour has encouraged us to work harder and perform better.”
Nasrullah Zulkifli was recognised as the Best Amateur when he shot a final round 74, to add to his 73 yesterday and an 81 on the first day. His 12-over 228 left him in solo 23rd placing. Nasrullah said he wasn’t thinking of turning professional soon but he “might consider it next year’.
Chang started strongly, with birdies on the third and fifth holes but he quickly gave it back on the 6th and 7th holes. He made the turn at one-under 35 after a sensational birdie on the par 5 ninth. His second shot from the middle of the green ended up below the back lip of a swale. Despite the awkward lie and address, Chang skillfully pitched the ball onto the green and saw it roll to about four feet from the cup.
Chang, who has now set his sights on winning the Toyota Tour Order of Merit, wasn’t sure of victory until the 17th hole even after bogeying it. “I still had a 6-shot cushion going into the last hole.”
The threesome didn’t have good drives on the par 4 final hole. San, who had the shot of the day after a chip ended in the hole for an eagle on the par five 9th, pulled his tee shot into the water hazard on the left while Shahriffuddin carried the lake but ended up among the trees next to the cart path. Chang meanwhile saw his tee shot end up inside the fairway bunker.
“I wasn’t concerned,” said Chang, the double gold medallist at the Sea Games last year. “The lie in the bunker was good and even a double bogey wouldn’t hurt me.” He came out well with the ball ending up on the front apron of the putting surface. A smart chip enabled him to save par and present himself with a comfortable victory.
Shahriffuddin played par golf on the outward nine but bogey on the par 3 14th and a double on the 16th ended whatever hopes he had, despite birdieing the 12th and 15th.
The prizes were awarded by PGM General Manager Nik Mustapha, UMW Toyota Motor Regional Manager Allan Ngu and Sukiman Aini, Tournament Committee chairman, Sarawak GC.
The Toyota Tour moves on to the Hilux Cup which will be played at the challenging Sabah GCC course from May 16-18. Veteran Asian Tour player Ben Leong has confirmed his entry for the Hilux Cup. Chang, Shahriffuddin and San have also confirmed their entries.
Final scores (Top 10 and Ties)
205 (-11) – Ervin Chang 68-66-71
211 (-5) – Shahriffuddin Ariffin 73-65-73
214 (-2) – Galven Green 70-72-72, Khor Kheng Hwai 70-72-72
216 (Even) – Danial Faidz 74-72-70
217 (+1) – R. Nachimuthu 72-72-73
218 (+2) – Paul San 72-70-76
219 (+3) – Nor Heikal Hadi 74-76-69, Kenneth De Silva 71-74-74
222 (+6) – Wilson Choo 76-71-75, Daeng Abdul Rahman 72-73-77, Adam Shafiq 74-76-72