ANAHITA – Kurt Kitayama secured his maiden European Tour title in just his third event after claiming a two-shot victory on Sunday at the tri-sanctioned Mauritius Open at Anahita.
The American, who earned his playing privileges at Qualifying School last month, carded an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys in his closing 68 on Sunday to win the event sanctioned by the European, Asian and Sunshine Tours.
But it was not all plain sailing for Kitayama, who saw his lead reduced to a single shot when he missed his par putt from six feet at the 16th.
He held his nerve, though, holing from 20 feet for a birdie at the 17th to restore his two-stroke cushion, before safely parring the last to finish the tournament on 20-under.
S Chikkarangappa and Matthieu Pavon finished in a tie for second on 18-under after they both produced closing rounds of 67 at Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius at Anahita.
South Africa’s Justin Harding fired a closing birdie to get to 17-under and finish alone in fourth, one shot ahead of Masahiro Kawamura and defending champion Dylan Frittelli, who notched seven birdies and no bogeys in his spotless 65 on day four.
Kitayama began the day alongside the in-form Harding at the top of the leaderboard on 16-under, and soon found himself one shot adrift after watching Harding confidently roll in his uphill birdie putt from around six feet at the second.
The 25-year-old joined him on 17-under with a birdie at the next, holing his tricky 25-foot putt, with Harding unable to convert his long birdie effort.
After sending his approach at the long fourth to 15 feet, Kitayama rolled in his eagle putt to jump to 19-under.
Harding, who has won twice on both the Asian Tour and the Sunshine Tour in 2018, tapped in for a birdie at the same hole to staying within touching distance.
But Kitayama doubled his advantage after draining his 10-foot putt at the short fifth to get to 20-under for the tournament.
After missing his 10-foot par putt at the seventh to drop his first shot of the day, Kitayama steadied the ship with a gutsy par save at the short eighth after sending his tee shot into a greenside bunker.
A run of pars was broken when Kitayama tapped in for a birdie at the long 13th, and he found himself three shots clear at the summit when Pavon dropped a shot at the 15th.
But a bogey at the 16th, coupled with birdies from Chikkarangappa and Pavon at the 17th, saw that advantage cut to just one shot.
Kitayama showed nerves of steel, though, sinking his tricky birdie putt on the 17th green to double his lead.
He then knocked in his par putt at the last to clinch his first win on the European Tour, Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour.
African News Agency (ANA)