12:00 AM, April 28, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 28, 2018

Higa staves off Jamal's charge

Japan's Kazuki Higa had the perfect start to the BTI Open with a 10-under-par (62) in the first round that took him to the top of the leaderboard and he never looked back since, staying top all the way before sealing the title at the Kurmitola Golf Club yesterday. PHOTO: FIROz AHMED

Japan's Kazuki Higa fended off a challenge from Bangladesh's Jamal Hossain Mollah to win the BTI Open at the Kurmitola Golf Club yesterday.

It was a wire-to-wire victory for the 23-year-old as he closed with a total of 17-under-par (271) to win the 60,000-dollar event, jointly sanctioned by the Asian Development Tour (ADT), Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) and Bangladesh Professional Golfers' Association (BPGA).

Jamal had to be content with a second-place finish as he signed off with a 70 for a total of 14-under-par (274). Sweden's Malcolm Kokocinski shared third place with Argentina's Miguel Carballo on a 276 total.

Three other Bangladeshis finished within the top ten, with both Siddikur Rahman and Sajib Ali at 279 and Mohammad Nazim at 280.

“This is truly a special week for me in Bangladesh. It started with my birthday celebrations on Monday and I would end the week with my first ADT win here. It is even more memorable as this is my first ADT event,” Higa said after winning his maiden title on his first ADT appearance.

The Okinawa native, who took a massive advantage with a course record of 10-under in the opening round, had taken by his own admission, a safe approach in the following two rounds. But he had to up his ante in the fourth round, thanks to an early charge from Jamal.

“I did not feel much pressure at the start of the day as I thought I had a good lead. I was playing it safe until the fourth hole when Jamal caught up with me. That was when I decided to drop the safe approach and become more aggressive. It worked out well and I'm so happy now,” said Higa.

While Higa regrouped and retained a two-shot lead, Jamal failed to keep his composure throughout the day, firing bogeys on the 14th and 18th holes.

“I misjudged the distance on the 14th hole. I should have used a 6-iron instead of a 5-iron. So I hit the ball further than the pin and it rolled into a bunker. That's when I lost the pace. Going into the 18th, I was two strokes behind. So there was probably a lack of concentration on the last hole,” said the two-time PGTI winner.

“After two bad seasons, I think I am showing some good form and hopefully this will help me a great deal in next month's AB Bank Bangladesh Open,” Jamal added.

Siddikur, Bangladesh's premier golfer, was less than happy with the final outcome. He, like Jamal, had started the day in excellent fashion and fired four birdies in the first eight holes. But after going for a bogey on the ninth, he settled for pars in the remaining nine holes, eventually ending eight shots off the winner.

“The way I started the day I was thinking I had an outside chance if I could carry on like that. But then things didn't go as I expected. I'm not entirely satisfied with my overall game, nevertheless it was a good day's work,” the two-time Asian Tour winner said.