Beau Champ, Mauritius: Kurt Kitayama won his maiden Asian Tour title after carding a final round four-under-par 68 at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
The 25-year-old American 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 two to four 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 17 before signing for a winning total of 20-under-par 268 total.
Kitayama earned a cheque for US$179,607 and moved into the top-10 of the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings.
Kitayama said: “I’m just so proud. It’s an unbelievable moment for me. I’m just so happy I was able to pull it off. There were definitely some nerves around the first tee shot. Going birdie-eagle-birdie helped to calm things down for the rest of the day.
“This whole year has been, well, what a great year! I still have two more events on the Asian Tour, but to win on one of the last events of the year is just great.
“It’s been a different journey for me (going from Web.com Tour to Asian Tour to European Tour). It’s been really exciting, being able to travel all over the globe and I’m going to continue to travel more. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Indian 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 so doing, Harding closed the gap on leader Shubhankar Sharma on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings after earning US$55,639 at the AfrAsia Mauritius Open.