Bangkok, Thailand: Panuphol Pittayarat claimed a special victory at the Thailand Open after closing with an even-par 70 at the US$300,000 Asian Tour event.
The bubbly Thai became the fifth local player to lift the Thailand Open trophy after holding off a strong challenge from countryman Poom Saksansin at the Thai Country Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
The 25-year-old Panuphol battled nerves heading into the final six holes where he bogeyed 13 and 18, and almost found the water hazard with his third shot on the par-five 17th hole. He held on to victory after signing for a 13-under-par 267 total.
Baby-faced Poom, who represented Asia at the EurAsia Cup this year, took the lead early in the round but struggled to maintain his title charge following bogeys on 10 and 12.
He ended his campaign with a 70 to settle for second place, one shot behind Panuphol while 20-year-old Sarit Suwannarut enjoyed his best result on the Asian Tour after securing third place.
The victory was especially sweet for Panuphol as he won the Thailand Open trophy on his home course. The victory also marked a return to form for the Thai who came into the tournament following four straight missed cuts.
With the win Panuphol also took the early lead in the 2018/2019 Panasonic Swing race.
He said: “This means everything to me. This is my national trophy, my home course and this is where I practice. I’m very, very happy. I felt a bit of nerves coming down the stretch but I kept it cool and patient. I tried not to let the nerves affect my thinking, my game or feeling. I think I kept things under control pretty well.
“This win is a dream come true. It is every Thai golfer’s dream to win their national Open. Poom didn’t make it easy for me. He is one of the best golfers from Thailand and Asia.”