Perth, Australia: Thai teenager Phachara Khongwatmai was denied a grandstand finish by the brilliance of home favourite Brett Rumford, who beat him 2 and 1 in a gripping finale to the inaugural A$1.75 million ISPS Handa World Super 6.
The 17-year-old exceeded all expectations by securing the last play-off spot for the match play rounds and then storming into the final only to be beaten by the dominant Australian, who was the 54-hole stroke play leader.
As the top seed, Rumford received a bye in the first round before defeating Hideto Tanihara, Wade Ormsby and Adam Bland on his way to the final at Lake Karrinyup Country Club.
Phachara, on the other hand, had to produce a gallant effort to secure the 24th and final spot to the match play rounds. He finally prevailed after his third attempt at the play-off holes on Saturday and continued to shine by overcoming Australians Sam Brazel, Lucas Herbert, Matthew Millar and Jason Scrivener before facing off with Rumford.
Rumford won the first hole but Phachara drew level on the second. It remained all-square until the fourth hole when Rumford regained his advantage with a birdie at the event that is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia and European Tour.
After putting his tee-shot into the bunker on the par-three fifth and failing to get it out with his second, Phachara knew it was all over as Rumford was left with a tap-in for a win.
“I did not feel any pressure today,” said the Thai, who turned pro at the age of 14 and won a domestic event in Hua Hin. “After taking the last spot yesterday, I was already very happy. I just told myself to play well and enjoy.”
Rumford said: “It’s been a really, really tough week. You’re looking at the last six holes pretty much to win a 72-hole golf tournament. So it comes down to the nitty gritty of that same feeling of trying to win a golf tournament. But to actually have that from 9 am and then finishing up at 5.30 pm is a really long day.
“So it was a unique challenge in trying to win a golf championship and feeling that same emotions, tension and pressure for six holes in four straight matches. It’s just great to be back. It has been a pretty tough road last year and the year before that was even tougher with my surgery.
“I only saw my twin daughters for four weeks in six months, and I sort of fell out of love with the game and my direction in life. But it’s really nice to get my Tour card back and I feel I’ve got back my worth back as a golfer again.”