- | Amateur
Korea and the Philippines share the spoils at 2nd Selangor International Junior Golf Championship
Jacob Cajita of the Philippines and Korea’s Jung Min Seo bagged the boys’ and girls’ individual titles respectively following an exciting final round at the 2nd Selangor International Junior Golf Championship.
Both Cajita and Jung enjoyed double wins as they were also part of the triumphant sides in the boys’ and girls’ team events.
The co-leader after 36 holes, Cajita signed off with a two-under-par 70 for a total of four-under-par 212 (75, 67, 70) at the challenging Seri Selangor Golf Club. He finished one shot ahead of India’s 13-year-old prodigy Kartik Singh, who matched Cajita’s closing score for a three-under-par 213 total (69, 74, 70).
Cajita had to stave off a fierce challenge from the highly-rated Kartik, who fought hard until the final putt dropped on a sweltering day. Both players birdied their last three holes and treated the gallery to grandstand finish at the par-five 18th.
With Cajita up by one, Kartik found the green in two at the closing hole but left himself a long, uphill eagle putt. The 17-year-old Cajita overshot the green with his second shot and was left with a tricky chip to a tight pin, where anything overhit would have fed to the slope and rolled some distance away.
Cajita hit a delicate chip that left him just three feet from the flag, a putt that he had to make after Kartik nailed a clutch birdie from 10 feet. The Filipino made no mistake and found the centre of the cup to claim the title.
“I did not doubt with the way Kartik plays that he was going to get it near every time, so I knew I had to make my putts. With the calibre of player that he is, I knew for sure he’s not going to miss anything inside five feet, especially when he’s going so well,” said Cajita.
“It wasn’t only the chip at 18. I would say every shot during the tournament could have made the difference between winning and not winning. I knew I had to get it close, and I was lucky that I did. It’s always nice to walk away with a win. It hasn’t really sunk in yet as I’m still in game mode right now,” he added.
Kartik was magnanimous in defeat, saying: “I tried my best, but Jacob was just making everything! On the 15th hole, he had a very long putt for par from about 30 feet, so I thought I could finally tie him, and he made the putt!
“On the 16th hole, I had a tap-in birdie and he makes a 20-footer for birdie. On 17, I had another short putt for birdie and he makes another 20-footer! He had a very difficult up-and-down at the last hole and he hit a really good chip and made birdie, so there was nothing I could do. It was fun and I’m proud of the way I fought till the end” noted Kartik.
Malaysian-based Korean Kang Geon, the 36-hole co-leader with Cajita, signed off with a 74 for third place on even-par 216 (76, 66, 74). Shinichi Suzuki of the Philippines was fourth on three-over-par 219 (74-69-76), two shots ahead of Korea’s Cho Min Young (73, 75, 73). The best Malaysian was Muhammad Adif Haikal Md Hazan in sixth place on six-over-par 222 (77, 74, 71).
Cajita’s victory earned him an invitation to play in this coming week’s PKNS Selangor Masters, an Asian Development Tour event at Seri Selangor. Unfortunately, the Filipino talent will not be able to stay back for the tournament due to school commitments. The spot was therefore given to Kartik, who gratefully accepted.
Having opened up an eight-shot lead after 36 holes with rounds of 70 and 68, Jung had looked to be on cruise control for the title. However, the 16-year-old Korean opened the door for the rest of the field with an uncharacteristically poor display of ball striking en route to a closing 78.
Fortunately for Jung, no one managed to capitalise on her lackluster final round and she was able to claim victory in her first-ever tournament appearance in Malaysia. She finished with a 54-hole total of even-par 216 (70, 68, 78), two shots ahead of Malaysia’s Wang Xin Yao who caught fire in the final round with a blazing four-under-par 68.
“I shot six-over-par today and still managed to win, so I’m really happy. Maybe I was a little tired with the heat,” said Jung. “It’s a very good tournament and I really enjoyed myself. Hopefully, I can come back for the next one!”
Wang was happy with the way she finished and how she improved each day, having started with rounds of 77 and 73. The 15-year-old’s total of two-over-par 218 was one shot better than Korea’s Cho Hee Jin.
“My irons and my putting were absolutely crazy today; everything was going in! Most of my birdies were from within 15 feet and it was great. It’s a fantastic event and I enjoyed competing with players from overseas,” said Wang.
Wang’s compatriot and fellow 15-year-old Ng Jing Xuen, the 2023 SEA Games individual gold medallist, finished fourth on four-over-par 220 (74, 74, 72), edging Korea’s Yang Hyo Jin (71, 76, 73) on countback.
In the boys’ team event, the Philippines quartet of Cajita, Suzuki, Bobe Salahog, and Edison Tabalin ran away with the title with a three-round total of 652, based on the best three out of four daily scores. They won by 20 shots over the Korea B team of Cho, Han Su Min, Park Jae Min, and Lee Choeng Am. The Malaysian National Team of Aiden Kei Ahmad Shahruddin, Daniel Woz, Nathan Wong Tsen Jack, and Nazran Shahrizan claimed third place on 688.
Jung teamed up with compatriots Cho, Yang, and Song Ji Min to win the girls’ team title for Korea B with a total of 654, a massive 33 shots ahead of Team Thailand comprising Burasiri Yutiyothin, Chutimon Rujiranan, Aelisa Twiltermsup and Jiranan Lim on 687.
Malaysia’s National Junior Golf Development Team made up of Wang, Nur Batrisyia Balqis Abdul Ghani, Andrea Chin Yen Xing, and Siti Nurfarah Fasha, claimed third place with a 691 total.
The Selangor International Junior Golf Championship was organized by UUM International School Melaka (UUMISM) in collaboration with the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) and promoted by PKNS Golf Management Services Sdn Bhd. The World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) featured a total of 96 players aged between 12 and 18 competing over 54 holes, in separate boys’ (56 players) and girls’ (40 players) divisions.
The international representation included contingents from South Korea, China, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. The Malaysian challenge comprised players from MGA’s national team and national junior development squad, Selangor Sukan Malaysia (SUKMA) players, as well as talents from UUMISM and the PKNS Golf Academy.
Participants of the SIJGC were fully hosted, with their accommodation, green fees, transport and meals all covered for the duration of the championship. The official hotel was Royal Chulan Damansara, while the practice facilities were located at the nearby Tropicana Golf & Country Resort.
A team from Korea’s SBS Golf TV will produce a championship review show that will be telecast in six countries, namely South Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, China and Malaysia. The vast exposure will help promote Selangor as a preferred tourism destination, showcasing the state’s natural beauty and diverse culture as well as the myriad of activities on offer.
Established in 1998, Seri Selangor offers a scenic and challenging 18-hole layout crafted by Australian architect Ross Watson. Featuring tree-lined fairways leading to tricky and slick greens, the course has hosted numerous international events including the Selangor Masters on seven occasions.