Bangkok, Thailand: Phiphatphong Naewsuk capped a memorable week by firing a six-under-par 65 to claim his maiden professional win at the inaugural three million baht (about US$91,000) Boonchu Ruangkit Championship.
Phiphatphong, who held the lead after the second round, stayed consistent as he put on an assured performance at the Rancho Charnvee Resort and Country Club to seal victory with a winning total of 18-under-par 266.
Namchok Tantipokhakul returned with the day’s lowest score of 63 but was unable to pip fellow-Thai Phiphatphong to the title. He ended shot back in second place at the event which is sanctioned by the Asian Development Tour (ADT).
Korean Baek Seuk-hyun signed off with a 65 to take third place on his own while local stalwarts Thaworn Wiratchant, Chawalit Plaphol and Chapchai Nirat shared fourth on matching 271s after posting rounds of 66, 67 and 68 respectively.
Phiphatphong, who rode on a two-shot advantage heading into the final round, held his nerve in his last 18 holes to land his first victory since joining the play-for-pay ranks in 2010.
“I’m so proud to secure my first professional win today. To win it in Boonchu’s event is even more meaningful because he is a mentor of mine. I was really nervous all day but I tried to focus hole-by-hole, shot-by-shot,” said the 25-year-old, who marked his card with seven birdies against a lone bogey.
“Namchok played very well and I knew I had to make the score to win. I missed a short putt and dropped a shot on the 17th but I didn’t let that affect my closing hole. I would like to thank Boonchu and all sponsors for this event. My playing partners, Namchok and Chapchai, gave me a lot of moral support on the course too and I’m very thankful,” added Phiphatphong.
Phiphatphong, a double gold medalist at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games, took home the winner’s prize purse of US$13,217 and received six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points courtesy of his victory.
Boonchu, a five-time winner on the Asian Tour and the European Senior Tour, expressed his delight at the tournament, named after the Thai veteran to honour his achievements in the game.
“It was a very successful tournament. I would like to thank all sponsors who have come together to support this tournament. I’m also happy to see a young player like Phiphatphong winning this event. He definitely has the potential to become one of the top players in Thailand,” said the 58-year-old.
Boonchu, who had the honour of hitting the opening drive when the Asian Tour was launched in 2004 as a players’ body, is the second Asian Tour player after Korean KJ Choi, to host his own tournament.