Sunday, July 17, 2011
Thaworn Triumphs After Titanic Battle In Indonesia Open
The veteran 44-year-old prevailed by one stroke from Indonesia’s rising star Rory Hie, defending champion Michael Hendry from New Zealand, and Korean Choi Jin-ho after a gripping finish.
Thaworn lifted his first title on OneAsia after making a battling par on the 18th at Damai Indah Golf - Pantai Indah Kapuk Course.
The Thai star had led by three at the start of the day and closed with a 73 while Hie shot 70, Hendry carded 71 and Choi a 69.
The victory also marked his second success in the event as he triumphed in 2005 and is the 15th big win of his illustrious career.
He led by one shot playing the final hole and a sudden-death play-off beckoned after his tee shot found an awkward lie on the edge of a bunker on the par four closing hole.
He had to play that shot with his feet in the trap and he splashed it out to 10 yards short of the green. Handling the pressure with the experience of a true champion he chipped to a foot to secure the crucial par.
Hendry, who was paired with Thaworn, had a 35 foot birdie putt to draw level but he just missed.
Moments earlier playing in the group ahead, Hie missed a similar length par putt to stay level with Thaworn. Hie had found a water hazard off the tee and had to take a penalty drop.
“I am very happy to win even though I didn’t play well. It was an uphill battle. The past two days have been a struggle. After I bogeyed nine and 11 I didn’t think I could do it. I felt I must make that up and down on the last as I was too tired for a play-off. I had to work a lot harder to win this Indonesia Open compared with the last time I won it,” said Thaworn, who finished with a four round aggregate of 13-under-par 275.
Thaworn and Hie tied for the lead on 13 under at the turn and Hie was in control for much of the back nine before he dropped shots on 15 and 18.
“There is no secret to my success. I just work very hard on my game and make sure I look after myself and eat the right food. Ever since I was trying to get into the national amateur team I have been this way. It’s like a nine to five job although my day normally starts a lot earlier,” added Thaworn.
Thaworn won a cheque for US$180,000 while second place was worth US$72,500.
Hie was bidding to become only the second Indonesian to win the title after Kasiadi in 1989.
The 22 year old also finished second behind Australia’s Andre Stolz in the Indonesia PGA Championship in March, which was the season-opening event on OneAsia.
“It hurts, of course, being this close to winning, but sometimes, you have to fall before rising to the top. I have learned my lesson and I will work harder to win the tournament on my home soil. I was unlucky on hole 18. The ball should have stopped before the hazard, but it didn’t. Actually, I made a good recovery by hitting it onto the green. Overall, I played well today, though I was confused on some holes. My putter also didn't work well. I really hope it's just a matter of time before winning a tournament,” said Hie.
Hendry won this event by seven shots at the same venue last year and produced a fine defence.
He caught Thaworn on 14 under after a fast start with three birdies in the first five holes but then proceeded to self-destruct. He went in the water off the tee on the par-three seventh for a double bogey.
The Kiwi then found water again with his second shot on the par-four ninth and made a seven. However, he then rallied superbly and played the back in three under.
“Complete rollercoaster of a round. I made some costly mistakes on a few holes. It could have been so different,” said Henry.
Unheralded Choi made birdies on 15, 16 and 17 to come close to snatching a surprise win.
Australian Kim Felton was also in the hunt but dropped shots on the closing holes to end with a 72 and finish three behind the winner in a tie with compatriot Ashley Hall, Korean Han Chang-won and Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol.
OneAsia moves from one prestigious national Open to another next when it heads to the US$1 million Thailand Open.
To be held from August 11 to 14, the tournament will be played at Suwan Golf and Country Club, just outside Bangkok.
Thaworn will headline a magnificent line-up of players from Thailand while also playing is former US Open champion Michael Campbell from New Zealand and Japan’s Shigeki Maruyama.
OneAsia boasts a total of 13 tournaments on its schedule in 2011 and includes the national Opens of Indonesia, Thailand, China, Korea and Australia.
Leading final round scores:
275 - Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 68 68 66 73
276 - Choi Jin-ho (KOR) 71 69 67 69, Rory Hie (INA) 68 70 68 70, Michael Hendry (NZL) 65 71 69 71
278 - Ashley Hall (AUS) 69 71 71 67, Han Chang-won (KOR) 68 67 71 72, Kim Felton (AUS) 68 70 68 72, Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 72 68 65 73
279 - Matthew Griffin (AUS) 73 67 71 68
280 – Han Min-kyu (KOR) 68 73 72 67, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 71 69 71 69, Stephen Allan (AUS) 71 69 70 70, Gareth Paddison 70 73 67 70
281 -Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 72 68 73 68, David Oh (USA) 69 71 72 69, Bronson La'cassie (AUS) 70 72 68 71