Tears of Joy for Triumphant Thai

Sarit Suwannarat claimed his maiden Asian Tour win in Jakarta. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour.

Jakarta, Indonesia: Sarit Suwannarut brought the Asian Tour season to a memorable conclusion with an emphatic four-stroke victory in the US$1.5 million BNI Indonesian Masters presented by TNE.

The 24-year-old Thai fired a closing four-under-par 68 for a four-round aggregate of 20-under at Royale Jakarta Golf Club to claim his first Asian Tour title. Indian Anirban Lahiri, winner here in 2014, finished second after carding a 66. 

Chinese-Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang and Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell both returned 69s to tie for third, five behind the winner.

American Kim Sih-wan wrapped up the Asian Tour Order of Merit (OOM) title after finishing in a tie for 28th, while Scott Vincent from Zimbabwe secured the International Series OOM, by finishing in equal 10th position.

The weather, which had caused numerous delays since Thursday, had a final say when lightning stopped play at 1.09 pm on Sunday with Sarit having two holes left to play and holding a five-shot lead. Play resumed at 2.30 pm with the rising Thai star able to par his way home.

“I think I almost cried coming down the 18th,” said Sarit. “I can’t put into words how I feel. I am just happy. I didn’t feel the pressure that much, I was just enjoying my game. I have enjoyed the whole week.

“I worked with my coach last week and we discovered something with the set-up. I wasn’t hitting it good for the Pro-Am and the first round but we looked at the video and decided to squat more and get my chin up a little bit, just small things that made a really big impact.”

Delays caused by bad weather over the first three days meant Sarit had to complete the final four holes of his third round early Sunday morning, following a 6.45 am restart.

He parred 15, 16, and 17 before holing a testing 12-footer for birdie on 18 to lead on 16-under, by three from countryman Kosuke Hamamoto.

Sarit was never threatened in the final round, making the turn in three-under with a birdie on six and an eagle on nine before notching further birdies on 12 and 15. His only dropped shot came on 16 before the weather delay added more pressure to the closing stages.

He added: “It’s been a really tough year. I had Covid at the start of the year, later I couldn’t get a visa for Korea, and I was battling to keep my card at one point.” 

While Lahiri was not able to win this event for a second time, he was happy with his week’s work.

He said: “It was a really good week. I think I finally got into some rhythm, coming off not playing much golf. I think I was surprised on Thursday that I played the way I did. And then the next two rounds were more like what I was expecting. But as I played more, I started getting into a good rhythm. 

“Just a few kinks in my game, I worked on my putting yesterday after the delay. I was really happy with the way I started swinging it, much better, more like what I like to see from my game.”

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