Kitayama maintains lead at the PGM Darulaman Championship
Kedah, Malaysia, January 26: Newcomer Kurt Kitayama of the United States stood on the verge of his career breakthrough after carding a brilliant eight-under-par 64 to grab a five-shot lead following the penultimate round of the PGM Darulaman Championship on Friday.
The 25-year-old Kitayama fired a bogey-free round highlighted by one eagle and six birdies, extending his overnight lead to five shots with a three-day total of a 19-under-par 197 at the RM225,000 (approximately US$55,000) event.
Two-time ADT winner John Catlin, also of the United States carded a flawless 66 to stay in second place while Thailand’s Donlaphatchai Niyomchon returned with a 65 to trail by eight shots in third place at the Darulaman Golf and Country Club.
“I eagled the 10th hole after hitting a good drive and then stuck it to three feet with my seven-iron. It has been a pretty relaxing week. I’m just going to do the same things that I have been doing. I hit it alright and I putted well which helped me a lot. The key for me tomorrow is to stay relaxed and not force anything so I can keep this momentum going,” said Kitayama.
Kitayama, who hails from Chico, California, turned professional in 2015 and has plied his trade on the Web.com Tour for the last two years. He signalled his arrival in Asia by securing his 2018 Asian Tour card in his first attempt at the Qualifying School held earlier this month He went on to win the Monday Qualifier and earn a spot at the SMBC Singapore Open the week after.
“I have never won an event since I turned professional. This is the first time I am leading after 54-holes in a tournament. I am happy to put myself in a good position heading into the final round.” added Kitayama.
Catlin, who highlighted his card with six birdies, stayed true to his game plan while showing great resolve in chasing for his third ADT crown.
“I had a good time playing with Kurt today. We knew each other from our college days. We were both making birdies and trading shots back and forth and that’s what you want, that’s the fun in golf,” said the 27-year-old.
“My back nine was pretty good although I missed a couple of shots. I didn’t take advantage of some of the short holes or it could’ve been a really great round. I kept it nice and simple, so I’m pretty happy with how I did.
“It was windier today, and was probably one of the harder conditions out there. I will just try and make some key putts and see how low I can go tomorrow,” added Catlin.
The PGM Darulaman Championship, by featuring on the ADT schedule, will receive official World Golf Ranking status. The winner will receive a minimum of six Official World Golf Ranking points and the top six players and ties will earn points on a sliding scale.
Leading third round scores:
197 – Kurt KITAYAMA (USA) 63 70 64
202 – John CATLIN (USA) 68 68 66
205 – Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA) 71 69 65
208 – Oscar ZETTERWALL (SWE) 70 70 68, Kwanchai TANNIN (THA) 70 69 69
209 – Itthipat BURANATANYARAT (THA) 68 72 69, Hyukchul SHIN (KOR) 73 70 66
210 – Nitithorn THIPPONG (THA) 68 73 69, Kiishaan THARMALINGAM (MAS) 73 67 70
212 – Brett MUNSON (USA) 71 69 72, Danny MASRIN (INA) 72 68 72, Sukree OTHMAN (MAS) 67 75 70, Thanpisit OMSIN (THA) 72 70 70, Justin DE LOS SANTOS (USA) 74 70 68, Shinichi MIZUNO (JPN) 70 69 73
213 – Seungjae MAENG (USA) 70 71 72, Steve LEWTON (ENG) 72 72 69