A fit body and refreshed mind has enabled Queensland’s Andrew Dodt to break a four-year title drought and claim the Asian Tour’s Sarawak Championship in Malaysia.
Playing his first event in two months due to a bulging disc in his back that flared up following a gym session in Morocco, Dodt fired a bogey-free 8-under 64 in the final round at Damai Golf and Country Club to post the clubhouse lead at 24-under.
When American Micah Lauren Shin missed a birdie putt at the last to tie Dodt the Aussie looked to have the tournament wrapped up, only for Canadian Richard T Lee to force a playoff with an eagle from just outside six feet at the 72nd hole.
Lee again went for the 18th green in two at the first playoff hole but Dodt’s decision to lay up paid off, getting up and down from 66 yards for birdie as Lee’s putt for birdie from 12 feet lipped out on the right edge.
The 33-year-old’s third Asian Tour title and first since the 2015 True Thailand Classic, Dodt said that his two-month injury layoff proved to be a blessing in disguise as he spent time with wife Ashleigh and daughter Azalea and returned with renewed passion for the game.
“I had a two-month injury layoff in April and it was probably a good reset,” Dodt explained. “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 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.
“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 and my head’s in a good place. Just keep the foot down.”
Beginning his final round with a birdie at the par-5 first, Dodt didn’t make another until the par-5 eighth which sparked a run of five straight birdies to rocket to the top of the leaderboard.
He added a seventh at the par-3 14th and then following birdie at the 72nd hole had to endure a wait that he conceded he didn’t think would require extra holes.
“Knowing I had to get in the playoff was hard because I probably didn’t expect Richard to make eagle with a three-wood in regulation,” Dodt said. “But golf is a funny game and you have to expect the unexpected.
“And then into the playoff it’s match play you have to expect that he’s going to hole that putt.
“He hit a great putt in the playoff, I thought he made it but unfortunately it lipped out.
“That’s just the way it goes.
“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 playoff I wanted the third shot a little bit closer so it wouldn’t spin as much.
“And in the playoff 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.”
In a strong week for the Aussies veteran Terry Pilkadaris produced one of the best rounds of the day on Sunday, a 9-under 63 lifting him to a tie for sixth four shots behind Dodt with Travis Smyth tied for 16th at 16-under par.
Damai Golf and Country Club, Kuching, Malaysia
1 Andrew Dodt 66-64-70-64—264 $US54,000
T6 Terry Pilkadaris 66-68-71-63—268 7,608
T16 Travis Smyth 71-66-66-69—272 3,639
T44 Daniel Fox 71-68-70-70—279 1,512
T59 Jarryd Felton 70-70-69-73—282 975
T63 Adam Blyth 70-67-77-70—284 810
68 Daniel Gale 69-70-76-70—285 720
T69 Josh Younger 72-68-73-74—287 675
71 Scott Hend 68-71-77-78—294 630
MC David Gleeson 72-69—141
MC Steven Jeffress 69-72—141
MC Simon Hawkes 73-75—148
WD Daniel Nisbet 70