Siddikur’s victory a first for Bangladesh on Asian Tour

Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh with the Brunei Open trophy.

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei – Siddikur Rahman made golfing history when he defeated South Africa’s Jbe Kruger in a playoff at the Brunei Open to become the first Bangladeshi to win on the Asian Tour.

Siddikur secured his career breakthrough with a par at the first extra hole as Kruger missed a 10-foot putt on the par-4 18th at the Empire Hotel and Country Club.

The man from Dhaka, and co-overnight leader, had earlier bogeyed the last hole in regulation for a 4-under-par 67 to fall into the playoff with Kruger, who established the clubhouse target of 16-under 268 in the US$300,000 tournament.

Filipino Juvic Pagunsan secured third place after a sizzling 64 for 269 while Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar (65), last year’s runner-up, was one stroke further back at 270. The English duo of Nick Redfern (68) and Simon Griffiths (68) shared fifth place at 271 while Malaysian Ben Leong, tied for the third-round lead with Siddikur, finished T-10 after a closing 73.

“It is very exciting. I’m the first Bangladeshi to play on the Asian Tour and after two years on tour, I’ve now won a tournament. It is unbelievable,” said Siddikur, who earned his tour card from qualifying school in 2009.

LEADING FINAL-ROUND SCORES

268 - Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 64-67-70-67, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 66-68-68-66

*Siddikur won sudden-death play-off at first extra hole

269 - Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 70-64-71-64

270 - Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 69-68-68-65

271 - Simon Griffiths (ENG) 68-68-67-68, Nick Redfern (ENG) 70-66-67-68

272 - Adam Blyth (AUS) 67-68-67-70

273 - Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 68-68-66-71, Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA) 70-70-65-68

274 - Ben Leong (MAS) 70-64-67-73, Zhang Lian-wei (CHN) 71-65-68-70, Darren Beck (AUS) 68-69-68-69, Atthaphon Prathummanee (THA) 71-70-64-69

275 - Anirban Lahiri (IND) 70-67-66-72, Oscar Fraustro (MEX) 68-70-72-65

276 - Unho Park (AUS) 71-70-66-69, Lee Sung (KOR) 65-74-70-67, Scott Barr (AUS) 67-74-70-65

277 - Guido Van Der Valk (NED) 68-69-69-71, Namchoak Tantipokakul (THA) 70-68-68-71

“I didn’t expect to win. Thankfully, everything in my game clicked.”

He grew up from humble beginnings and worked as a ball boy at a Dhaka golf club to pay his school fees. He learned the game by fashioning his first golf club with a 7-iron head on a piece of metal rod.

“I hope to inspire more people to take up the game of golf in Bangladesh. This is a good victory for me and my country,” said Siddikur, a multiple winner on the Professional Golf Tour of India whose previous best Asian Tour result was a tie for eighth in June’s Queen’s Cup in Thailand.

Siddikur, whose remarkable week included a hole-in-one in the second round, got off to a strong start on Sunday when he eagled the par-4 first followed by birdies on Nos. 2, 4 and 13. His only blemish came on the last hole, when he failed to sink a 15-footer for outright victory.

A battling Kruger, playing in the group behind Siddikur, charged up the leaderboard when he turned in 30. But he posted a double-bogey on 11 before battling back with birdies on 12 and 17 to set the clubhouse mark.

The South African, who claimed his best Asian Tour finish, was disappointed to finish second but was gracious in defeat. “It is always disappointing when you lose in a playoff, but to finish second is a good result in any tournament,” Kruger said.

“I feel that I’m getting better, and I’m confident of landing my first win in Asia soon.”

Pagunsan claimed his second consecutive top-10 finish and credited his hot putter after sinking seven birdies.

“I think I could have gone lower,” he said. “My putting was very good. I have always performed well on this golf course, and I hope that my next Asian Tour victory will come soon.”

Asian Tour contributed to this report.

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