Kurt Kitayama of the United States won his maiden Asian Tour title after carding a final round four-under-par 68 at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Kitayama went into the fourth round with a share of the lead.
He has never been in a similar position on the Asian Tour this season but he showed no sign of nerves, establishing the pace early in the day by making birdie-eagle-birdie from holes 2 to 4 at the Four Seasons Golf Club, Mauritius at Anahita.
With that, Kitayama went into the outright lead and held it for the rest of the day.
The 2018 Asian Tour Qualifying School graduate gave the chasing pack a glimmer of hope when he bogeyed the 16th, but he recovered with a birdie on the following before signing for a winning total of 20-under-par, 268.
“I’m just so proud and really happy … It’s an unbelievable moment for me, I’m just so happy I was able to pull it off,” Kitayama said.
“Going birdie-eagle-birdie helped to calm things down for the rest of the day.”
Kitayama earned a winner’s cheque of US$179,607 and moved into the top-10 of the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings.
“I’m just so proud and really happy … It’s an unbelievable moment for me, I’m just so happy I was able to pull it off,” – Kurt Kitayama
India’s Chikkarangappa S. has also given his position on the merit list a significant boost after grabbing a share of second place with Frenchman Matthieu Pavon, and earning US$104,365.
He has virtually secured his Tour card for the 2019 season.
Chikkarangappa finished the way he started the tournament – bogey-free.
He showed his raw emotions on the 16th after making a difficult birdie and carried the momentum to the following hole.
A difficult par save on the 18th ensured that he maintained his tied-second position.
Justin Harding of South Africa was gunning for his third victory on the Asian Tour but had to contend with a fourth-place finish in Mauritius.
The 32-year-old brought his terrific form from yesterday into his final round, evident from his birdies on the 2nd and 4th holes.
However, his title bid took a drastic turn after consecutive bogeys on holes 6 and 7.
He admittedly struggled for the rest of the day and could not find that extra gear to bring him back up the leaderboard.
Nevertheless, Harding managed to close the gap on leader Shubhankar Sharma on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings after earning US$55,639 at the AfrAsia Mauritius Open.