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BIRTHDAY JOY FOR WESTWOOD AT THE INDONESIAN MASTER

 

Jakarta: World number two Lee Westwood gave himself the perfect birthday gift by winning the US$750,000 Indonesian Masters on Sunday for his first victory this year.

With his victory, Westwood who celebrates his 38th birthday today put himself in strong position of regaining the world number one spot from Martin Kaymer if Luke Donald does not win in the United States.

“This will definitely be the most memorable birthday for me,” said the Englishman, who won US$118,875 for his victory.

Westwood was forced to return to the clubhouse with one more hole to play as the fourth round at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club was suspended at 1.40pm due to lightning for approximately one hour and five minutes.

He returned to par the last hole to close with a solid three-under-par 69 for a 19-under-par 269 total to win the inaugural Asian Tour event by three strokes.

A fast charging Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand fired a flawless 65 to settle for second while Asian Tour newcomers Park Hyun-bin of Korea and Thitiphun Chuayprakong of Thailand shared third place with Bangladeshi Siddikur and Australian Marcus Both on 275.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Youth and Sport Minister Andi Alifian Mallarangeng were also in attendance at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.

Westwood, who held a five-stroke lead going into the final day, was even-par for the day after nine holes but sparked into life when he holed a difficult birdie putt on the 11th hole.

“Yeah, that was probably the hardest putt I had all day. It was 15 feet and had a three feet break on it. I birdied the next with two good shots and played solidly. I managed to pick up a few shots and birdied the 16 from four feet. I was quite comfortable after that,” said Westwood, who has won over 30 international tournaments in his stellar career.

He said he had done everything he could do to regain the world number one ranking, which he held for 17 weeks before being replaced by Kaymer. “It was about coming here this week and trying to win the Indonesian Masters and I’ve done that. I’ve ticked every box this week so we will have to wait and see what happens.”

He predicted a bright future for the Indonesian Masters and said the tournament will attract more world class players to play alongside the Asian Tour’s best in the coming years.

“I think it has been very successful. It has a fantastic golf course in brilliant condition and you got a good field this week. No complaints at all. I’m sure there will be many more Indonesian Masters and the field will only get stronger,” added the Englishman.

Thongchai credited a red hot putter for his flawless round where he turned in 31 before adding two more birdies on his back nine.

“It was a good round from me and I’m happy with how I played. I played my own game and focussed hole by hole and shot by shot. I played very solidly,” said the three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner.

He believes he is back to his best after suffering from a back injury in February.

“I started very well with five birdies in the first nine and knew it would be a good day with my putter. I missed a couple of shots in the back nine which was disappointing. I feel that I’m getting back into form after my back injury,” said Thongchai.

Park, who was tied for the lead after nine holes, held his head high as he pushed Westwood to the brink before wobbling with three straight bogeys from the 15th hole to finish with 70.

“It was very disappointing. My putting was a real let down. It was the strong point in my game and I couldn’t keep it up when it mattered,” said the Korean, who is searching for his first career victory.

“It is still a good result for me and I hope to continue playing my best on the Asian Tour. Westwood is a very long hitter and after playing with him, I feel more confident. Maybe I’ll even win on the Asian Tour soon,” said the 24-year-old.

Leading fourth round scores

269 - Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 68-66-66-69.

272 - Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 67-70-70-65.

275 - Marcus BOTH (AUS) 70-70-69-66,  SIDDIKUR (BAN) 66-72-69-68, Hyun-bin PARK (KOR) 67-68-70-70, Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA) 68-68-69-70.

277 - Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 69-68-71-69, Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 67-70-69-71.

280 - Darren BECK (AUS) 68-74-71-67, Inn-choon HWANG (KOR) 67-74-70-69, Rory HIE (INA) 68-74-69-69, Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 72-65-73-70, Wen-tang LIN (TPE) 71-67-70-72, Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 67-70-70-73, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 70-68-69-73.

281 - Sung LEE (KOR) 70-72-70-69, Miles TUNNICLIFF (ENG) 72-68-71-70.

282 - Angelo QUE (PHI) 71-72-68-71, Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 72-70-67-73.

Photo - Asian Tour

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