Kuala Lumpur: Jeev Milkha Singh was unable to carry on from where he had left on Saturday as he signed off tied 17th at the Maybank Malaysian Open after ending with a third and final round of 68, in Luala Lumpur on Sunday.
Jeev dropped from overnight 10th and finished six shots behind the winner, Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed a sensational wire-to-wire victory at the weather-shortened event.
Shiv Kapur, who was even par through seven holes on Saturday, did well to pick up five birdies against no bogeys in the remaining 11 holes and finished with a 67 that saw him finish tied 22nd.
Kiradech overcame a host of stars with a gutsy performance on Sunday. The big-hitting 23-year-old held his nerve for a battling two-under-par 70 to lift his second Asian Tour title by one-shot from Ryder Cup star Edoardo Molinari of Italy, who signed off with a 67, at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Anders Hansen of Denmark shot a 66 to finish two shots back while 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa settled for tied fourth position following a 71 in the USD 2.75 million championship sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Jeev said, "I had a great start. I was five-under after 11 holes. I didn't drive the ball that well in the morning on Sunday. I bogeyed 12 and had birdie chances coming in but didn't convert. I was one-over on the back nine and finished 68 which I think is a good round. I shot seven-under for three days. I could have done better but I'm happy."
He admitted, "The rain suspension did stop a bit of momentum on Saturday. Obviously you want to keep it going but that's Malaysia. You have to get used to it."
On the season, Jeev said, "I’m playing well and I'm injury free. I'm getting better with my game. I'm improving each week so that's a positive. If I keep improving every week then a win should be around the corner."
With a winner’s cheque of USD 458,330, Kiradech jumped to the top of the Asian Tour's Order of Merit with his season's haul of USD 594,230.
Gaganjeet Bhullar, who missed the cut this week, dropped to second on money list.
Kiradech started the day with 16 holes to play and then he led by one shot through 15 holes of the third and final round when play was suspended for two hours because of a lightning storm. He came back out shaking at the prospects of winning his career's biggest title yet.
He birdied the 16th hole upon the resumption of play from four feet to open up a two-shot advantage and then enjoyed a stroke of fortune when his approach into the 17th green ended just a few feet from the water hazard. After leaving his chip some 15 feet short of the flag, Kiradech drained his par putt and celebrated with a clenched fist.
Playing it safe with an iron off the tee on the last, a closing bogey did not matter as his three-day total of 13-under-par 203 was one clear of Molinari.
Molinari, who was getting ready to warm up for a possible play-off, was disappointed he only made par at the closing 18th hole after a wayward drive.
Schwartzel, playing in the last group with Kiradech, rued the missed opportunity to emulate countryman Louis Oosthuizen, who won the Maybank Malaysian Open last season.
China's Wu Ashun was the next best Asian in tied 11th place on 208 after closing with a 73 while Malaysian amateur Gavin Green enjoyed a creditable equal 22nd place finish after a closing 69 fir a 210 total.
Kiradech is the fourth Thai after Thongchai Jaidee, Thaworn Wiratchant and Chapchai Nirat to win a co-sanctioned tournament.