Chonburi, Thailand: Jamie Donaldson kept his cool in the white-heat of battle to claim the US$1 million Thailand Golf Championship, going seven-under-par for the final round and claiming a three-stroke victory at the Asian Tour’s showcase event.
The Welshman nailed a clutch putt on the Amata Spring Country Club’s signature 17th hole, which features a floating island green, just when it looked like his lead was there for the taking.
Donaldson went hard at the hole with his putt on the par-three, the ball bounced up for a heartbeat … and then it disappeared, as did the hopes of unheralded Frenchman Clement Sordet and two-time winner Lee Westwood who had clawed back Donaldson’s lead with birdies to his bogey at the previous hole.
That pair finished tied for second at 18-under after final rounds of five-under 67 for Westwood and two-under 70 for Sordet.
“It’s been a awesome event,” said 40-year-old Donaldson. “The weather’s probably been the hardest thing to deal with as it’s been so hot all week. But I’ve had a great week. It’s an awesome tournament.
“It was a good job that putt on 17 was on line as if hadn’t gone in, it would have been in the drink. But it was right at the middle of the hole all the way. I just had to hope it would stay in and it did.
“I hadn’t played great this year so it was important to come here and work hard and kick on from there. That’s as well as I can play and I’m really happy.”
The victory – the eighth of Donaldson’s career – also secured him one of four places that were up for grabs at The 145th Open Championship, to be played next July at Royal Troon.
He’ll be joined there by Sordet, Westwood and 16-year-old Thai sensation Phachara Khongwatmai, who finished alone in sixth-place at 13-under, one place behind world number 12 Sergio Garcia and European Tour Rookie of the Year An Byeong-hun who both finished on 14-under and who were already exempt for The Open.
World number four Bubba Watson, the top-ranked player in the field, produced a magic moment when acing the fifth – and the American said it would be a memory he would always cherish as he fired home a five-under 67 to finish the tournament on eight-under.