Australian Andrew Dodt defeated Richard T. Lee of Canada on the first extra hole after sinking a two-foot birdie putt to win his third Asian Tour title and first in four years at the US$300,000 Sarawak Championship on Sunday.
The 33-year-old Dodt, playing in his first event since suffering a two-month injury layoff in April, was left to endure an agonizing wait in the clubhouse after closing with a flawless eight-under-par 64 at the Damai Golf and Country Club.
Knowing that he needed an eagle on the last to force extra time with Dodt, Lee opted for an aggressive style of play as he hit a three-wood off the deck from about 275 yards to eight-feet and made the eagle putt to sign for a closing 66. It was a sensational finish for Lee as he had to hit a big draw around the trees to get to the green on 18.
The duo, who were tied on 24-under-par 264 in regulation play, returned to the 517-yard par-five 18th for the sudden-death playoff where both found the middle of the fairway with their tee shots. Dodt laid up to about 75 yards from the pin while Lee decided to go for the green.
The 28-year-old Lee got lucky as his ball hit the cart path and bounced back to about 25 yards right of the green in the rough. He then chipped to 12 feet but his birdie putt lipped out and it was Dodt who sealed the deal after sticking his approach to two-feet.
American Micah Lauren Shin missed a 20-feet birdie putt on the last to force his way into the play-off as he signed for a 65 to finish in third place on 265 in the full-field event, which celebrated its second straight edition on the Asian Tour this week.
Overnight co-leader Hung Chien-yao of Chinese Taipei returned with a second straight 68 to take fourth place on 266 while Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines settled a further shot back in fifth following a 66 at the Arnold Palmer-designed course.
The final round of the Sarawak Championship was delayed by a 3 hours 5 minutes weather suspension in the morning. Play was suspended at 7.25am local time before resuming at 10.30am.
Dodt missed only one green and three fairways en route to his closing 64. With an average of 1.58 putts per Greens in regulation, Dodt is ranked second in the field in the category this week.
Prior to his victory at the Sarawak Championship, Dodt won the 2010 Avantha Masters and the True Thailand Classic in 2015.
He had endured a two-month injury layoff starting from April due to a bulging disc in his back which was stemmed from his gym session in Morocco after a long-haul flight from Sydney. He spent the last two months practicing before returning to competitive golf att the Sarawak Championship this week.
The 2019 Sarawak Championship is his fourth start on Tour this season. He moved from 59th place to 19th place on Order of Merit following his victory, which earned him a winner’s prize purse of US$54,000.
“I started my career on the Asian Tour. It’s nice to win on Tour again. It feels very rewarding. I’ve been playing great at home and I transformed that form at home into this week. It’s great to be holding the trophy. I’m over the moon,” Dodt said.
“I had a two-month injury layoff in April. It’s probably a good reset, gave myself a break and get the love of the game again. We had our first baby almost 10 months ago, so I got to spend some quality time with her. This means a lot, I’m a proud Aussie and I love my golf. To win is extra special.
“I left myself about 85 yards to the pin on the 18th in regulation play. I was probably a bit too far out as the third shot was into the breeze, so in the play-off, I wanted the third shot a little bit closer so it wouldn’t spin as much.
“And in the play-off, I had 66 which was perfect cause I knew I had to fly it at least flag high. I did and managed to stop it two feet just behind the hole.
“Knowing I had to get in the play-off was hard because I probably didn’t expect Richard to make eagle with a three-wood in regulation, but golf is a funny game and you have to expect the unexpected.
“And then into the play-off it’s match play you have to expect that he’s going to hole that putt. He hit a great putt in the play-off, I thought he made it but unfortunately if lipped out. That’s just the way it goes.
“At the turn in regulation play, I birdied the first but it was a bit slow after that, but I knew I just had to be patient and hang in there. And then I birdied eight and nine which I did yesterday as well, I just like those middle holes eight to 11. I managed to birdie 12 as well, but I think on the back nine four of the five birdies were tap-ins, so every time you have a tap-in for birdie that’s nice.
I will have to sit down and reassess my schedule now but I’m loving my golf, I just want to keep playing. I’m playing well, I feel like my game is in a good place, my head’s in a good place. Just keep the foot down.”
264 – Andrew Dodt (AUS) 66-64-70-64, Richard T. Lee (CAN) 66-68-64-66.
265 – Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 69-65-66-65.
266 – Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 64-66-68-68.
267 – Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 65-65-71-66.
268 – Scott Vincent (ZIM) 68-66-72-62, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 66-68-71-63, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 68-67-69-64, Justin Quiban (PHI) 64-71-67-66, Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 65-64-70-69.
269 – Danthai Boonma (THA) 67-66-68-68, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 66-67-67-69.
270 – Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 68-65-65-72.
271 – Jack Harrison (ENG) 67-69-68-67, Liu Yanwei (CHN) 67-70-67-67.
272 – Jesse Yap (SIN) 67-68-73-64, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 68-66-70-68, Travis Smyth (AUS) 71-66-66-69, Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI) 69-65-68-70, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 68-71-62-71.