Donlaphatchai Reigns at Weather-Shortened Taifong Open

Donlaphatchai Niyomchon savours his success at the Taifong Open.

Changhwa, Chinese Taipei: Overnight leader Donlaphatchai Niyomchon was declared the winner of the Asian Development Tour’s (ADT) season-ending US$160,000 Taifong Open after the fourth and final round was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Donlaphatchai, who carded a bogey-free four-under-par 68 in the third round and led from wire-to-wire, triumphed by two shots with a winning 54-hole total of nine-under 207 at the Taifong Golf Club. It was his maiden ADT title.

The 29-year-old Thai took home a cheque for US$28,000 that propelled him from 94th to third place on the final 2019 ADT Order of Merit, thereby securing his Asian Tour card for the 2020 season. He also receives six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points.

“It’s a great ending to my season. I have been working very hard on my fitness for the last two years and I’m glad it has paid off. I have waited very long for this win and I can’t wait to play on the Asian Tour next year,” said Donlaphatchai, who turned professional in 2010 but had to wait until last year to claim his breakthrough win on home soil.

Donlaphatchai is the third Thai, following Rattanon Wannasrichan (2015) and Pannakorn Uthaipas (2017), to win the Taifong Open, which was inaugurated in 2014 as the richest event on the ADT schedule.

Chinese Taipei’s Wang Wei-lun and Tseng Tzu-hsuan settled for a share of second place with Japan’s Daisuke Yasumoto and young Thai Atiruj Winaicharoenchai.

Naoki Sekito capped a season’s haul of US$50,942 following his tied-61st place finish at the Taifong Open and became the first Japanese to win the Order of Merit on the ADT, which was inaugurated in 2010 as a gateway to the Asian Tour.

“I can’t explain how happy I am to win the ADT Order of Merit. It’s the first time a Japanese has won the Order of Merit so I feel really honoured. I am so excited for next year,” said 22-year-old Sekito, who notched two wins and five top-10s on the ADT this season.

Thailand’s Pannakorn Uthaipas, Donlaphatchai and Itthipat Buranatanyarat ended the season in second (US$29,794), third (US$29,697) and fourth (US$29,672) place respectively on the final Merit rankings.

With Wang, who has already secured his Asian Tour card by finishing inside top-60 on the 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit, finishing fifth on the money list, the remaining three Asian Tour cards will be awarded to England’s Steve Lewton, American Trevor Simsby and Korean Park Seung, placed sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.

The leading seven players, not otherwise exempted, on the final 2019 ADT Order of Merit following the conclusion of the Taifong Open earned their Asian Tour cards for the 2020 season.

The final round, originally scheduled to start at 7.10 am local time, was delayed by 30 minutes three times before officials made the decision to cancel the fourth round of the event that was celebrating its sixth consecutive edition on the ADT.

“After deliberation, the organising committee decided to cancel the final round due to continuous rain which is expected to last throughout the day and conditions were deemed unplayable due to low visibility,” said Jittisak Tamprasert, Asian Tour Director of Rules & Competitions.

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