Kurt Kitayama wins Mauritius Open by two shots
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 02/12/18 5:36pm
Kurt Kitayama marked his third start in an official European Tour event with an impressive two-shot victory at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.
Kitayama's final-round 68 at Anahita saw him edge out Matthieu Pavon and Seenappa Chikkarangappa, while Scotland's Grant Forrest finished tied for seventh in just his second start as a full European Tour member.
Qualifying School graduate Kitayama gained control of the tournament with a superb run on the front nine as he holed from 25 feet for birdie at the third and then nailed another big putt for eagle at the next.
The American added a further birdie at six to pick up four shots in three holes, although he then bogeyed the seventh moments after Pavon had carded his fifth birdie in six holes before his charge stalled with a dropped shot at the eighth.
Kitayama followed a steady run of pars with a birdie at the long 13th, but his lead was suddenly reduced to a single shot when he bogeyed the 16th while Pavon and Chikkarangappa both birdied the penultimate hole to heap the pressure on the leader.
But Kitayama responded by rolling in a superb 20-foot putt for a crucial birdie at the short 17th, and he held his nerve to par the last and seal victory on 20 under par.
"I'm just so proud, really happy," he said. "It's an unbelievable moment for me, I'm just so happy I was able to pull it off. There were definitely some nerves around the first tee shot, but going birdie-eagle-birdie helped to calm things down for the rest of the day.
"I was aware a little bit of what was going on, I kept one eye on the scoreboard. I just tried to stay calm and take it one shot at a time. It was important on 13 to get back with another birdie, and I just tried to stay patient."
Pavon and Chikkarangappa failed to take advantage of the par-five 18th as both signed off with five-under 67s to share second place, while overnight joint-leader Justin Harding limped home in 71 having been unable to build on two birdies over the first four holes.
Forrest, meanwhile, mixed five birdies with just one bogey in a closing 68 that lifted him to 14 under, with England's Lee Slattery (68) and Irishman Gavin Moynihan (70) finishing a shot further adrift and just outside the top 10.