Singapore: Jazz Janewattananond hailed Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong Course after becoming the third Thai to win the SMBC Singapore Open.
“Winning the Singapore Open is a great achievement. I think the Serapong Course is the best golf course on the Asian Tour,” said the 23-year-old, who fended off nerves and challenges from world stars Paul Casey and Matthew Fitzpatrick to win the US$1 million event in stylish fashion with a record-breaking score.
“I’ve played well (on the course) since I first came here three years ago. It suits my game a lot,” added Jazz, who played exquisite golf on the front nine to reach the turn with a three-stroke lead. He made some brilliant par-saving putts early on the back nine when he looked a bit shaky and finished with two birdies in the last three holes to seal victory.
Jazz shot a final round 65 for an 18-under 266 total, the best four-round score in Singapore Opens staged at Sentosa Golf Club, beating Adam Scott’s 17-under in 2010.
Joining compatriots Thaworn Wiratchant (2001) and Prayad Marksaeng (2017) on the tournament’s roll of honour, with the biggest win of his career, Jazz will move into the top-100 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“It has been my lifelong dream to be top-100 and move to top-50 and top-10,” said the current world number 111. “It is every kid’s goal when you are growing up. I did not expect I was going to do it this fast. I thought I could crack the top-100 before I was 30 but I am 23.”
Jazz credited a new putting style, where he grips low down on a mid-length putter, and the tutelage of renowned coach Pete Cowen for helping him join the game’s elite.
“I put the putter in play at the Panasonic Open in India (in late October). It has worked ever since,” said Jazz, the youngest player to make the cut at an Asian Tour event when he was just 14.
“I have to thank Pete Cowen. I signed with him at The Open last year. He has helped, for sure.”
Jazz finished two shots ahead of England’s world number 24 Casey, who matched the Thai’s closing 65, and overnight leader Yoshinori Fujimoto of Japan, whose birdie at the last saw him card a 68.
Casey’s charge was slowed by a bogey at 15, following five birdies in his opening 14 holes. Two more birdies were not enough to stop Jazz.
“It was a good round of golf – nice and tidy. I really only made one error, the second shot into 15,” said Casey, the highest ranked player in the field.
Fitzpatrick, the world number 40, snapped at Jazz’s heels for most of the last round but back-to-back bogeys on 15 and 16, where his drive ended up in a hazard, ended his challenge. He shot 69 for fourth place, four shots behind the winner.
The win was Jazz’s third on the Asian Tour, his first on the Japan Tour and saw him book a spot in The Open for the second straight year.
There were four tickets for The Open at Royal Portrush up for grabs with Fujimoto, Thai Prom Meesawat and Korean Mun Doy-eob taking the other three.
Prom, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, shot a 68 while Mun, who recorded an albatross in the second round, fired a one-over 72 to tie with the Thai in fifth place on nine-under.
World Golf Hall of Famer Davis Love of the United States closed with a 70 to miss out on his goal of playing in The Open for the 27th time. He tied for ninth place on seven-under 277, one stroke ahead of his son, Dru, who closed with a 65.
Defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain carded a 68 for joint seventh place with Thai Gunn Charoenkul on eight-under.