Kitayama claims AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open title

Kurt Kitayama celebrates
Kurt Kitayama celebrates

American Kurt Kitayama won his maiden European Tour title by taking a two-stroke victory in the Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open at Anahita.

Leaderboard

-20 Kitayama

-18 Chikkarangappa, Pavon

-17 Harding

-16 Frittelli, Kawamura

Day four report

American Kurt Kitayama won his maiden European Tour title by taking a two-stroke victory in the Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open at Anahita.

Kitayama shot a final round of 68, picking up four strokes on the day, to edge out India's S Chikkarangappa and France's Matthieu Pavon who both shot 67s at the Four Seasons Golf Club.

South Africa's Justin Harding finished a shot further back on 17 under, with fellow countryman Dylan Frittelli having the equal best round of the day with a seven-under-par 65 to tie for fifth with Japan's Masahiro Kawamura.

Kitayama got off to a great start on the final day with an eagle three on the 565-yard fourth hole which was sandwiched between two birdies. He picked up further shots on 13 and 17 but dropped shots on seven and 16.

Day three report

Justin Harding stormed into contention with a third-round 64 as Kurt Kitayama ended Saturday with company at the top of the Mauritius Open leaderboard.

Harding's 10 pars and eight birdies saw him climb from seventh into a share of the lead and, having won four times this year, he's favourite to go on and secure a breakthrough at this tri-sanctioned level.

Harding's wins so far have been split between the Asian and Sunshine Tours, the latter in his native South Africa, but with the European Tour co-sanctioning the event in Mauritius this would be a big step forward in the career of the 32-year-old.

He said: "I never really like to think about things as I walk down the holes but I really felt like I played pretty well today. 

"I had good control, especially in the first ten to 13 holes. I kind of felt like I could birdie every hole out there.

"I certainly gave myself a few chances. The toughest stretch of the course is the 14th, 15th and 16th.

"I got off to my good start and it was just more about making some good pars there and at the end of the day I did the job and put myself in a decent position to get the result tomorrow.

"I have a pretty good attitude in terms of holding leads. I kind of like the guys coming at me rather than having to chase. 

"I sometimes get in my own way when I’m chasing. So, I’m looking forward to it. It’s nice, I’m quite happy. It’s a job well done."

Kitayama, who was unable to match the successive 65s which had given him a two-shot halfway lead, made three birdies - all on par-fives - and one bogey to end the day tied in front.

He said: "Today played a little tougher.

"Being in the last group added a little more pressure. I made two birdies in the first four holes and I ground it out, made a bogey on the back and followed it up with another birdie.

"I’m not sure if being in the lead will affect me. Let’s see how I’m feeling in the morning, how the wind is and see if I can hit as many drivers as I did on the first two days. Then, I will make adjustments along the way."

The duo are three clear of Senappa Chikkarangappa, who recovered to shoot 71, Japan's Masahiro Kawamura and Frenchman Matthieu Pavon. The latter is going for back-to-back top-five finishes in the event but a closing bogey left him with work to do from three behind.

Victor Perez is a shot further back in sixth after he followed three back-nine birdies in succession with four dropped shots in four holes from the 14th, before recovering to close out the day with a birdie.

Gavin Moynihan, the Irishman who, like Kitayama, came through Qualifying School last month, is alone in seventh.

Day two report

Kurt Kitayama defied an early double-bogey to post back-to-back rounds of 65 and take a two-shot lead into the weekend of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.

The American went bogey-free on Thursday to sit one back of the lead and started Friday's round with a bogey, before making a hash of the par-five second and running up a seven.

The UNLV graduate bounced back quickly, rattling off three birdies in succession, and four over the closing six holes saw him move clear of the chasing pack.

"I started with a birdie and then just had a little blunder at two," he confirmed. "I got back on track right after so it was nice to bounce back after a double.

"Just a little pitching wedge on 17, hit it to about five or six feet and made that putt. Hit a good drive on 18, so that was short iron in and a two putt. Two stress-free birdies.

"I'm driving it well which is making it a lot easier. It's a pretty big advantage to be able to hit shorter irons in. I'm feeling pretty comfortable.

"I'll stay the same over the weekend, still be aggressive. It's gone well so far so don't want to switch things up too much."

Senappa Chikkarangappa carded five birdies in a row from the first, his 10th, on his way to a second-round 64, with Victor Perez settling for a 69 having been unable to match his first-round performance.

Perez, who started the season with third place in Hong Kong, shares that position with compatriot Matthieu Pavon, who is bidding for back-to-back top-five finishes on the island.

Gavin Moynihan, like Kitayama a graduate of European Tour Qualifying School, shot 65 to move into fifth on 10-under, with Trevor Fisher Jnr sixth and Lee Slattery among a tie for seventh.

Moynihan said: "I played one of my better ball-striking rounds of the year. I played lovely, holed a few nice putts. I played similar enough yesterday but just didn't hole as many putts. Very happy."

Day one report

Frenchman Victor Perez maintained his hot streak with an opening 64 in the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, where Matthias Schwab was also among those to impress on day one.

Perez finished third on his debut as a European Tour cardholder in Hong Kong last week and carried that form to a nine-birdie opening round to take the early lead.

The Frenchman, who impressed in the US college system and has since worked his way up via the Alps and Challenge Tours, went out in 32 from the 10th tee and returned in the same figure despite a bogey at the fifth.

He was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Senappa Chikkarangappa, who was bogey-free from the final group the day.

Teeing off in the afternoon seemed advantageous for the second week running and it was Jaco Van Zyl who fared much the best of the early starters, carding a back-to-form 65 in cooler conditions.

Austrian youngster Schwab and Sporting Life selection Lee Slattery carded opening rounds of 67 to sit on five-under, three behind, with Slattery scrapping hard before his patience paid off with an eagle at the 18th.

Justin Harding chipped in to match both the eagle and the score, outperforming Ernie Els (69) and Nicolas Colsaerts (72) in the marquee group.

Colsaerts missed several short putts in failing to capitalise on his course knowledge at Four Seasons, where he won a minor event at the start of the decade and has long been a member.

He'll begin the second round eight shots adrift of Perez, who has made a near-perfect start to life on the European Tour, and Chikkarangappa.

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