Jakarta, Indonesia: Poom Saksansin fended off the challenges of his more illustrious rivals and fast-finishing compatriots to win the US$750,000 BNI Indonesian Masters presented by Bank Tabungan Negara (BTN), PT Lautan Luas Tbk and Bank Mandiri.
Despite being ranked 239th in the world, Poom would not be cowed into submission against two of the world’s highest ranked players – European Ryder Cup stars Justin Rose (2) and Henrik Stenson (27) – and a host of Asian Tour champions who had assembled at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club for the Asian Tour season-finale.
As was the case at his first Indonesian Masters victory in 2016, Poom had again his uncle, Pratya Ployprapai, on his bag. Together, they forged a formidable partnership. Poom closed with a four-under-par 68 to win the last event on the 2018 Asian Tour by three shots with a four-day total of 20-under 268.
Fellow-Thai Jazz Janewattananond, who started the day six shots behind Poom in third place, gave himself a glimmer of hope of winning his third Asian Tour title after covering the front nine in 32 and adding another birdie at 10 and an eagle on 12. However, dropped shots on 15 and 17 put paid to his hopes. But an eagle-three on 18 brought back the smiles and saw him end his Asian Tour season with seven top-10s and one victory.
Reflecting on his win, Poom, who has earned a spot at next year’s WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, said: “The course is very long for me. But I have won here before so I love coming back. The greens are very nice and the course is in great condition.
“I really look up to Henrik (Stenson). I was happy when I saw his name in the field. I was hoping to play with him in the first two rounds and was very happy when I finally got to play with him in the final round.
“I wasn’t thinking about winning or losing. I was just thinking about playing alongside Henrik. I am very excited right now and I look forward to a better season next year.”
Thai Panuphol Pittayarat, who won his national Open in June, claimed his third top-10 of the season by finishing third with a bogey-free final round 66.
The expected challenge by Stenson did not materialise. “I didn’t bring much game today,” said the Swede, who signed off with a 71 to take fourth place on 274. “I feel like I have been fighting a little bit with the long game today. It was certainly not good. I got a little frustrated with myself. I missed a lot of fairways and greens.
“I needed a fast start today, but Poom came fast out of the blocks with a couple of birdies. I was four behind and needed to get going but I certainly did not have the game to go out today and shoot six or seven under.”
Defending champion Rose needed to finish tied-16th or better to move back to world number one but posted a disappointing 75 to end joint 17th.