SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Matt Kuchar survived a nightmare on the front nine before claiming a three-shot victory over former world number one Justin Rose in his maiden appearance at the Singapore Open on Sunday.
The American dropped a triple bogey but displayed tremendous resilience to card a one-under-par 70 for a winning total of 18-under 266.
Kuchar extended his overnight lead to four shots before running into serious trouble on the par-five seventh hole.
His tee shot hit the root of a tree and he missed the ball in his first attempt to get it out from the trees.
Compounding his woes, his approach shot flew left of the green and went out of bounds.
Kuchar steadied his round with three birdies on his back nine to win the tournament co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO).
“It was a thrill to be out there. It turned out to be quite a competition, much more of a competition than I was thinking it was going to be,” said Kuchar.
“I was playing so well this week and so (wanted) to finish this thing off, to make the turn and play a great back nine. And I closed it out with some strong holes, a birdie on 16 and a birdie on 18 – it was a real thrill.”
Englishman Rose mounted a late charge on the back nine, sinking four birdies in six holes from the 11th but his 67 was not enough to overtake Kuchar.
Jazz Janewattananond’s title defense did not materialize and the Thai finished third at 14-under with a closing 71.
Korean teen Joohyung Kim signed for an identical round to finish fourth and earn a place at the British Open at Royal St Georges in July.
Richard Lee finished fifth with an aggregate of 12-under, one shot ahead of Poom Saksansin and Ryosuke Kinoshita. The trio also booked their place at the world’s oldest major.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Frances Kerry)