Chapchai Ends Five-Year Victory Drought

 Chapchai Nirat returned to winning ways.
Chapchai Nirat returned to winning ways.

Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia: Thai Chapchai Nirat calmly holed a four-foot par putt to beat Filipino veteran Antonio Lascuna at the first play-off hole in the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.

Big-hitting Chapchai held his nerve at the Seri Selangor Golf Club to secure his fourth Asian Tour victory, ending a five-year title drought in the RM1.3 million (about US$410,000) event.

The 43-year-old Lascuna charged into contention with a masterful 63 to tie Chapchai, who closed with a 68 which included two finishing bogeys, on 10-under-par 274. The Thai then sealed the win when Lascuna missed his par putt from five feet in extra time.

Indian Anirban Lahiri settled for third place, two behind the play-off duo, following a final round 68 while Order of Merit leader David Lipsky of the United States (71) and overnight leader Cameron Smith of Australia (73) were among those who shared fourth place on 278.

“I didn’t think this day would happen,” said Chapchai, who was drenched with water by the Thai players who had gathered around the 18th green. “I didn’t think I’d have a chance to win (after five years). Golf is a game where you need to stay patient. I always talked to my caddie that if I could keep my form, I felt I could get one win again,” added the Thai, who earned US$72,670 to jump into sixth place on the Order of Merit.

Chapchai, who holds the world scoring record of 32-under-par 256 when he won the SAIL Open in India in 2009, made life difficult for himself. With a two-shot cushion with two remaining, he hit errant drives which led to bogeys. But it didn’t matter at the end as he survived the play-off drama.

“I felt a lot of pressure. When I saw Antonio miss the putt (in the play-off), I knew I had a chance. It took the pressure off me a bit and I’m delighted to hole the putt. This win is different from the previous three as it’s my first time in a play-off. The emotion is different. I’m glad I managed to pull through,” said Chapchai, the second Thai in successive weeks to win on Tour following Prom Meesawat’s success in Taipei last week.

In-form Lascuna, who finished third last weekend, snared six birdies and an eagle in regulation for his career low round but missed his maiden Asian Tour title by misreading his par putt attempt.

“I hit a good putt but the ball turned left at the end. I saw it as a straight putt but it turned. I’m still happy, especially with a closing 63 which is my lowest on the Asian Tour. Last week, I also came close. I’m playing really good,” said the Filipino, who moved up to third place on the Merit list.

“The feeling was exciting. I was trying to win. I’ll keep practising more, I won’t give up.”

Lahiri battled gamely but failed to find the extra birdie to join the play-off. “I really tried hard out there. But I didn’t putt very well and you can’t win tournaments if you don’t putt well. I’m really disappointed although I’ll finish third. Disappointed really with yesterday (when he shot a 76 after falling ill) and with how it turned out which is a big letdown,” he said

“When I birdied 17 to get to nine-under, I thought I could birdie 18 that would give me a good chance. But I missed the fairway on 18 and that’s a shot gone right there.”


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