Rewind: Pratt Peaks At Right Time

Sun 17 Feb 2013

Rewind: Pratt Peaks At Right Time

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February 17: The Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Alpine is the first Asian Tour event in 2013 which kicks off the 10th Asian Tour season. We take a look back at last year’s edition where Australian Kieran Pratt savoured the sweet taste of success for the first time.
Kieran Pratt needed to pinch himself to ensure he wasn’t dreaming after a long day at the office.
When he started his final round, the Australian never imagined he could win a first Asian Tour title as he trailed overnight leader and countryman Scott Hend by five shots at the season-opening Zaykabar Myanmar Open presented by Air Bagan.
But golf’s peculiarity has so often thrown up pleasant surprises, if not unimaginable endings, that the puzzle fell into place perfectly for Pratt.
A superb eagle on the 72nd hole pushed him into a three-way play-off with Thai rising star Kiradech Aphibarnrat and fellow Aussie Adam Blyth and Pratt subsequently claimed victory on the second extra hole with a birdie.
“Fantastic! It feels great to win the first event of the year. Obviously you want to get off to a fast start but to win is obviously better,” smiled Pratt, who closed with a four-under-par 68 for a 15-under-par 273 total.
“It was quite a nervous wait. But I thought it was pretty cool and unexpected to sneak into the play-off,” added the 23-year-old.
He dedicated his win to Victorian Institute of Sports coach Ramsay McMaster, who unexpectedly passed away at the end of 2011. McMaster had been a great influence in many young Australian golfers’ careers, including Pratt.
In a two-year professional career, Pratt enjoyed the peaks and troughs of the game. He jumped into the spotlight in 2010 when he outplayed former world number one Tiger Woods in a tournament in Australia and then earned his Asian Tour card in the following year at Qualifying School.
After failing to retain his Tour card for 2012, Pratt returned to Qualifying School earlier in the season to successfully regain his card. “It (the win) means a lot and it opens up a lot of doors on the Asian Tour. It’s a three-year exemption and it’s awesome that I’ve got a job for three years. It’s pretty priceless,” said Pratt.
“Winning means heaps. Out of Tour school, you have to make a fast start. If you don’t, you find yourself at the back end of the year and putting pressure on yourself to try and get enough money to sneak into the top-60. It was an unexpected win as to how I got it done,” he added.
Making a return to Asia after spending most of 2011 playing on the US secondary tour, Blyth overcame an eight-shot deficit with a sensational closing round of 65 to join the play-off.
Perhaps the surprise of finding himself in a shoot-out for the Zaykabar Myanmar Open title cost him the chance of winning.
“I was never expecting a chance. I’m disappointed. I had the opportunity to win and I didn’t. But I’m still happy with the outcome and how I played. It is a great way to start the season,” said Blyth.
Big-hitting Kiradech was the first to bow out in the first play-off hole and lamented another missed opportunity to earn his second Asian Tour title. “I was hitting it very well but couldn’t sink my putts. I three-putted for bogey on the 15th hole and that was a big mistake. That was the turning point,” said the Thai, who shot a level par 72 on the last day.
There was heartbreak for third-round leader Hend, who held a two-shot lead after the eighth hole but slipped back with a costly quadruple bogey on nine when he found the water twice.
His pain was Pratt’s gain.