Siem Reap, Cambodia: Three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand showed why he is one of Asia’s best when he won his unprecedented 13th Asian Tour title at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open on Sunday.
The decorated Thai star was clearly in a class of his own when he posted a final round seven-under-par 65 to win the US$300,000 full field Asian Tour event by four shots with a four-day total of 21-under-par 267.
Japan’s Kenichi Kuboya, who held the lead for three rounds, had to settle for second place after signing off with a 70 for a 271 total at the Phokeethra Country Club.
Korea’s Kim Hyung-sung returned with a 72 to take third place on 273 while India’s Anirban Lahiri and Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands took a share of fourth place on matching 274s.
Australia’s Marcus Both together with Malaysia’s Iain Steel and Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng took equal sixth on 275.
“I played really solid all week and I’ve no complains. This is my second win at the Johnnie Walker Cambodia Open and I’m really proud of myself,” said Thongchai.
It was a close tussle at the top with Thongchai and Kuboya fighting neck-to-neck for supremacy through the first 12 holes.
Playing together in the last group, Thongchai, who started his round in third place, got off strongly with two birdies in his opening two holes to grab a share of the lead with Kuboya.
The Japanese responded with birdies on the second and fourth holes to regain the outright lead after six holes. However it was at the par-four seventh where the lead changed hands again. Kuboya dropped his first shot of the week there while Thongchai birdied his to move atop the leaderboard.
Kuboya regained the share of the lead briefly after another birdie on the 11th hole but Thongchai responded with another birdie of his own at the par-four 12th to move ahead at 18-under with six holes to play.
The contest was virtually over when Kuboya made a costly mess at the par-three 14th with a double bogey, giving Thongchai a three-shot lead.
Thongchai stormed home convincingly with three birdies in his last three holes to secure his first win this season and a record 13th career title on the Asian Tour.
“If I continue my good form, there is a good chance of winning again next week,” said Thongchai of his title aspirations at next week’s Black Mountain Masters which is also the Asian Tour’s season finale in Hua Hin.
“I would like to thank my coach and sponsors for supporting me for without them, I would not be able to achieve so much success,” added the Thai star.
While Lahiri hopes of winning his maiden Asian Tour title did not materialise this week, he was able to take comfort with his solid play that led him to this third top-10 finish this season.
“I only made one mistake today, a triple bogey on the seventh hole but I’m really proud that I made four birdies in a row after that to come back into it,” said Lahiri.
With his Tour card also secured, the 23-year-old Indian is now looking forward to cap his season on a winning note at the season finale Black Mountain Masters next week.
“I’m happy with the way it has ended up and hopefully it should be enough to secure my Tour card for next year. I played really well in Black Mountain last year and now I’ve got to go there and try and win and get my rankings further up,” said the Indian who finished fourth at the Black Mountain Golf Club last year.
Meanwhile Steel could only rue his calamitous hole at the par-three 14th during his opening round where he recorded an eight which cost him his chance of winning his maiden Asian Tour title.
“It was just one bad hole which cost me the tournament this week. Apart from that, it was a birdie fest,” said Steel.
“There was no chance of me catching the leaders today. I had to shoot 58 or something today but realistically I wanted to play well by making birdies and move up the leaderboard,” added the Malaysian.
Meanwhile a total of US$3,000 was donated this week by title sponsor Johnnie Walker, Phokeethra Country Club, Asian Tour and players as part of their combined charity efforts to raise funds for the Smiling Hearts Association for Children.
Leading final round scores
267 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 70-67-65-65
271 - Kenichi Kuboya (JPN) 65-67-69-70
273 - Kim Hyung-sung (KOR) 69-65-67-72
274 - Guido Van Der Valk (NED) 69-67-68-70, Anirban Lahiri (IND) 73-67-65-69
275 - Marcus Both (AUS) 67-69-68-71, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 71-69-64-71, Iain Steel (MAS) 72-66-71-66
277 - Martin Rominger (SUI) 70-68-67-72
278 - Shaaban Hussin (MAS) 70-68-70-70, Mo Joong-kyung (KOR) 68-69-73-68, Mark Foster (ENG) 73-68-69-68
279 - Adam Groom (AUS) 68-66-72-73, Lucas Lee (BRA) 70-67-70-72, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 69-70-70-70, Lam Chih Bing (SIN) 69-70-72-68, Antonio Lascuna (PHI) 69-71-73-66
280 - Artemio Murakami (PHI) 73-68-68-71,
281 - Rory Hie (INA) 69-67-72-73, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 70-69-71-71, Siddikur (BAN) 67-73-72-69, Himmat Rai (IND) 71-71-70-69
Photo - Asian Tour
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com