Kulacz Is the Master

Sat 08 Aug 2009

Kulacz Is the Master


Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, August 8: Australian Rick Kulacz claimed his second Asian Tour title at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters on Saturday, thanks to a sensational course record equaling eight-under-par 63 in the final round.

The 24-year-old Kulacz, who started the final day six strokes off the lead, fired eight birdies in a flawless round for an 11-under-par 273 total at Seri Selangor Golf Club to pip overnight leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand by a single stroke.


Kiradech, 20, shot 17 pars and one birdie for a closing 70 to settle for second place in the RM1 million (US$300,000) Asian Tour event.


Mark Purser of New Zealand finished third on 276 following a fine 67 while South Africa's James Kamte ended the tournament with a 69 for fourth place on 277. Noh Seung-yul of Korea, Japanese Kodai Ichihara and India's Gaurav Ghei shared fifth on 278.


"To get a win from out of no-where is really enjoyable because the year has been pretty average. I'll probably enjoy this one a little bit more than the last," said Kulacz, who won the Brunei Open in 2008.


The Australian brilliantly turned in 30 with six birdies to catch Aphibarnrat and pulled ahead into a two-stroke advantage with two more birdies before arriving at the tough par four 18th hole where his birdie putt lipped out from six feet. It made him endure an anxious wait as Kiradech narrowed the gap to one with a birdie on the 17th hole.


The burly Thai, whose grip-it-and-rip-it style attracted plenty of followers this week, hammered a massive drive down the last hole and while his nine iron approach was straight on line with the pin, it agonizingly ended 30-feet short of the flag and he subsequently missed the birdie chance to force a play-off.


Kulacz's return to the winner's circle was a relief as he had missed eight cuts during the front half of the year which prompted him to work with a new coach. "I was holing every putt I saw today and I will take this score any time," said Kulacz who won US$47,550.


"I finally found a bit of form the last two weeks. I have been more positive with things and working with my new coach is refreshing. We had a game plan for the year and now that I have got a win it will make the rest of the year easier," said Kulacz.


It was a heartbreaking result for Kiradech, who led after the second and third rounds in his attempt for a maiden Asian Tour title. He was disappointed to not take advantage of the par fives with his enormous length from off the tee.


The big Thai also conceded that the pressure got to him. "Rick deserves to win because he shot a great score. This was my first time leading on the Asian Tour and I felt a bit of pressure. I didn't putt really well the whole day and didn't take advantage of the par fives which is not good.


"On the last hole, it was a soft eight iron for me but I decided to go in with a hard nine iron but left it short. It is an eye-opener for me and I learned a lot this week. I will certainly take this as a lesson and have more confidence now to win my first title," he said.


Purser, playing in his rookie season in Asia, was delighted to enjoy his best finish on Tour especially after owning up to a mistake on the 11th green where he gave himself a one-stroke penalty when his ball moved after he had grounded his putter.


"That didn't really help but it's still a good week. I couldn't have asked for a better finish. This result is right up there as I've struggled in the previous two weeks. I had a better state of mind this week and it is nice to play some good golf," said the 25-year-old.


Iain Steel of Malaysia ended as the leading Malaysian, finishing in a share of ninth place on 280 after closing with a 68 while Shaaban Hussin was a further stroke back in equal 11th after a 73. S. Siva Chandhran settled for joint 17th place with a 77.


Leading final round scores

273 - Rick Kulacz (AUS) 68-71-71-63

274 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 65-70-69-70

276 - Mark Purser (NZL) 69-71-69-67

277 - James Kamte (RSA) 66-70-72-69

278 - Gaurav Ghei (IND) 71-67-72-68, Noh Seung-yul (KOR) 67-68-73-70, Kodai Ichihara (JPN) 71-69-68-70

279 - Bae Sang-moon (KOR) 69-69-72-69

280 - Iain Steel (MAS) 66-72-74-68, Mitchell Brown (AUS) 68-69-72-71

281 - Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) 69-75-70-67, Kim Dae-hyun (KOR) 73-65-76-67, Angelo Que (PHI) 71-74-69-67, Shaaban Hussin (MAS) 67-69-72-73

282 - Mardan Mamat (SIN) 72-71-70-69, C. Muniyappa (IND) 71-74-66-71


For further information, please contact Asian Tour's Chuah Choo Chiang or Doyle De Costa at the media centre tel: +603 7805 7710. Also visit www.asiantour.com for Live Scoring starting on Wednesday.


About the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters 2009

The Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters will be staged at Seri Selangor Golf Club from August 5 to 8, 2009 and offer RM1 million (US$300,000) in total prize money. The event, which made its Asian Tour debut last year, is title sponsored by Worldwide Holdings Berhad while other sponsors include Permodalan Negeri Selangor Berhad, CIMB Group, Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam, Majlis Perbandaran Sepang and Majlis Perbandaran Selayang. The event is also supported by Srixon, 100Plus and Ricoh.


About the Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia.  This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore's premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.