Kitayama takes Oman Open with late surge

Spain’s Sergio Garcia in action. (Reuters pic)

MUSCAT: Kurt Kitayama kept his cool as everyone else on the leaderboard collapsed to win the Oman Open by one stroke on Sunday.

The American finished on a seven-under-par total of 281, one stroke ahead of Spaniard Jorge Campillo, Frenchman Clement Sordet, German Maximilian Kieffer and Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti.

The top five entered the event with a total of just three European tour victories between them – one to Kitayama, who has never won on the US tour, two to Zanotti  – and the pressure told in the end.

“This one feels really good because when I won the first one I was playing really well and it just felt like it was coming,” Kitayama told the European Tour website.

“This week I came in off three missed cuts and not having good weekends in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It feels great to grind through all of that.”

High winds and sand storms earlier in the tournament led to a marathon final day at the at Al Mouj course as Kitayama played 33 holes on Sunday.

In the three holes, he had managed before low light stopped the third round on Saturday, the American had dropped six shots to fall seven strokes off the lead.

Over the last 13 holes of the third round on Sunday, he was seven under heading into the final round three strokes behind leader Zanotti.

“The way we started that third round, I was, like, ‘can we stop right now?’,” Kitayama said.

“It gave me a refresh and it was incredible coming back,” he added.

Kitayama playing in one of the last groups was still two shots back with three holes left.

Kieffer and Sordet had taken the lead after Zanotti, who had four birdies and three double bogeys in the round, dropped two shots on 16.

Then Sordet three-putted for a bogey on 18 to make Kieffer the sole leader.

The  German responded by bogeying 17.

Kitayama then made birdies at 16 and 17 to move into the lead at the end.