Kurt Kitayama wins AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in just third tour start


It took Kurt Kitayama just three European Tour events to gain his first victory at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

The American, who gained his Tour card in the final stage of the European Tour's qualifying school less than a month ago, now has his maiden European Tour title thanks to a final round 68 which saw him win by two shots. 

"I'm just so proud, really happy," Kitayama said. "It's an unbelievable moment for me, I'm just so happy I was able to pull it off."

Kitayama had began the final round in a tie at the top of the leaderboard with South Africa's Justin Harding, but soon found himself one-shot behind as Harding added his first gain on the second hole. 

But if there were any nerves Kitayama didn't show them, responding by holing a 25-footer for birdie on the third, followed immediately with an eagle on the fourth and another birdie on the fifth to pull ahead by two shots. 

He dropped his first shot of the day at the seventh but a par-save from the bunker at the eighth kept him ahead of the field, and he added another birdie at the 13th to maintain that advantage - which extended to three shots when Pavon dropped a shot on the 15th hole ahead of him. 

The lead did momentarily begin to shrink for Kitayama over the closing stretch as he dropped a shot on the 16th and both S.Chikkarangappa and Pavon recorded birdies at the 17th, but he soon rallied with a birdie of his own on 17 to regain a two-shot lead. 

A final hole par clinched his first wins on the European Tour, Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour.

"There were definitely some nerves around the first tee-shot," Kitayama said afterwards. "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. I just tried to stay patient.

"This whole year has been, well, what a great year. I still have two more events but to win on one of the last events of the year is just great.

"It's been really exciting, being able to travel all over the globe and I'm going to continue to travel more. I'm really looking forward to it."

In his two prior European Tour starts, Kitayama had finished T46 and T45 at the Hero Indian Open and Hong Kong Open.