Stunning Samui Success for Thai Veteran Thaworn

Thaworn Wiratchant claimed a dramatic late victory in Samui. Picture by Asian Tour.
Thaworn Wiratchant claimed a dramatic late victory in Samui. Picture by Asian Tour.

Samui, Thailand: Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant came from five shots back to claim an unprecedented 17th Asian Tour victory with a classy one-stroke triumph at the Queen’s Cup.

The 47-year-old Thaworn holed a five-foot birdie putt on the closing hole to pip overnight leader Poom Saksansin with a final round of five-under-par 66 at the Santiburi Samui Country Club to lift the Queen’s Cup for the second time in three years.

Thai rookie Poom, who had led since the opening day, settled for the runner-up spot in the US$300,000 tournament after a closing 72 while Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman, who briefly held the lead on the back nine, signed off with a disappointing 72 to share third place with Thai Donlapatchai Niyomchon (68).

“It is so meaningful to me, whether it’s a small or big tournament. At every tournament, I am always trying my best. There was pressure this morning as I wanted to go out there and play some good golf,” said Thaworn, whose winner’s cheque for US$54,000 lifted his career earnings on Tour to more than US$4 million.

The unorthodox swinging Thaworn surged into a one-shot lead with a birdie on 14 but made life difficult for himself by dropping a bogey on 17 after missing a four-foot par attempt. With Poom, who was wobbly with an outward 39, fighting back with birdies on 16 and 17 to make it a three-way tie going into the final hole, Thaworn’s experience came through in the end.

The home hero found the green in two at the par-five 18th and with Siddikur and Poom both struggling after hitting wayward approach shots, Thaworn duly rolled in a five-foot putt much to the delight of his adoring fans.

“I knew I had to play well on 18. I wasn’t very confident as I made bogey on 17. I aimed for the green and if it didn’t get on the green, I knew it would be around the green which would give me a birdie chance. I was confident from there onwards,” said Thaworn, who totalled 12-under-par 272 for the week.

Leading by one overnight, 21-year-old Poom struggled with nerves, dropping three early bogeys. But he fought back with brave birdie putts on 16 and 17.

“Although I didn’t win, I am still happy. There was pressure and I couldn’t control my ball flight. It was like a bird, it was going everywhere. Thaworn told me to try to calm down. He was trying to help me but I still couldn’t hit and putt,” said Poom, who earned US$33,000.

“On 16 and 17, I managed to get some birdies back (to draw level). But on 18, I got pressured again. It was not easy. I tried to hit a hook shot into the green but hit a duck hook into a bad spot. I nearly chipped it in, just a bit short at the end.”

Siddikur let victory slip from his grasp and was kicking himself after a closing bogey which dropped him into a share of third place. Everything was bad. It was very disappointing, especially on 18. I still had a chance to get a birdie but unfortunately I got a bogey. It made a big difference. I had a chance but it didn’t happen. Thaworn deserved it as he made some big putts. It was awesome putting by him,” said Siddikur, who settled for his fourth top-10 in Samui.

Korean Baek Seuk-hyun was fifth on 276 while Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang grabbed his first top-10 on the Asian Tour with a closing 68 for tied sixth place with Canadian Richard T. Lee and Korea’s Wang Jeung-hun.

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