PGA TOUR Release – 28 September 2018: A battling Kim Leun Kwang claimed a playoff victory over Amir Nazrin Jailani at the CIMB National Championship at TPC Kuala Lumpur’s East course on Friday, securing a maiden professional title and a dream appearance at the US$7 million CIMB Classic in two weeks’ time.
The 23-year-old Kim, who led by three shots after the second and third rounds, survived some anxious moments during the final round as he was caught by Amir who forced extra time with a four-under-par 67 as both golfers tied on 12-under-par 272.
With the winner earning a prized spot in the PGA TOUR’s only tournament in Southeast Asia on the line, both golfers found trouble with their tee shots on the par four 18th hole and Kim, who shot a closing 70, emerged victorious with a bogey against Amir’s double bogey after the latter agonizingly three-putted from about 15 feet.
“This means a lot to me,” said Kim, who bagged RM30,000 for his win. “I’ve been looking for my first win for a very long time and I finally did it. It was crazy … Amir played really well and gave me a good fight. I’m a bit brain-dead right now and I guess I was on the lucky side. it’s not easy to see a golfer three-putting from close range. I feel for him but I’m happy I’m going to be playing in the CIMB Classic.
“In the playoff, I saw Amir hit it over the green and I was worse off in the trees and had to cut the ball by some 30 yards or otherwise I’d be out of bounds. I pulled it off and I’m really happy to be the last man standing. It has taken me a long time to get this win and there were some struggles over the years but I knew it would come someday. I’m really happy now. Having my first win and getting my reward to play in the CIMB Classic is amazing,” added Kim, who turned professional when he was 17.
Kim said he walked outside the ropes as a spectator in the last two CIMB Classic tournaments, dreaming that he would one day have the opportunity to compete against the stars from the PGA TOUR.
“When I was younger, I did dream about playing in a PGA TOUR event. I’ve taken it week by week. This feels amazing. I just want to learn from the PGA TOUR players. When Gavin (Green) played here a few times, I’d come out to watch him as he’s my best friend. It’s going to be different this time, I’ll be the one holding the club and I’m going to enjoy it for sure,” he said.
It was heartbreak for the second straight year for Amir, who finished third in the CIMB National Championship last year. He turned in 33 to reduce Kim’s lead to one and then caught his rival on the 16th hole with his sixth birdie of the day. However, he missed his opportunity with mistakes in the playoff.
“It’s about luck once you get into a playoff. I would have done the same thing over again. I made a silly mistake on the green … can’t say anything about that now. There was also a stone under my ball in the bunker and the first putt was just too firm. It didn’t quite work out for me and I have to accept it,” said Amir.
Kim will now have the opportunity to face PGA TOUR stars including 2017 FedExCup champion Justin Thomas, CIMB Classic defending champion Pat Perez, Keegan Bradley, Ryder Cup star Paul Casey, Japanese ace Hideki Matsuyama, 2017 Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele and World Golf Hall of Fame members, Ernie Els and Davis Love III.
Apart from this week’s winner earning a spot, the highest ranked Malaysian on the Official World Golf Ranking as of October 1 will also earn the right to play in the CIMB Classic which features an elite field of 78 players comprising of the top 60 available players from the 2017-18 PGA TOUR FedExCup points list, eight sponsor exemptions and the top-10 available players from the Asian Tour.