Thai Poom Returns to Winning Ways

Poom Saksansin returned to winning ways at the Yeangder TPC. Picture by Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour.

Taipei, Chinese Taipei: Poom Saksansin returned from the golfing wilderness, winning his first Asian Tour title in five years at the US$750,000 Yeangder TPC.

The Thai closed with a six-under-par 66 to finish on 24-under at Linkou International Golf and Country Club.

That gave him a three-stroke victory from Australian Travis Smyth. Bidding to become the first player to successfully retain the title, Smyth, playing in the penultimate flight, carded a 67.

Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar, who won this event in 2012, fired a 69 to settle for third place. His birdie on the last allowed him to finish one ahead of his countryman Rashid Khan (68), Chinese-Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang (66), and Thailand’s Rattanon Wannasrichan (67).

After securing his fourth Asian Tour title, Poom said: “I don’t know what to say. I’m so lucky today. I played well and had some good luck. Made some good decisions.”

Poom, the overnight leader by two thanks to an eagle on the par-five 18th in round three when he holed his third from 112 yards, has rarely been in contention on the Asian Tour for the past five years, the exception being at last year’s Bangladesh Open, where he tied for fourth.

But in Taipei he showed no lack of competitive edge, bravely holding the lead from start to finish.

He had a one stroke advantage from Smyth at the turn, thanks to three birdies for an outward nine of three-under-par 33. He then made birdies on 10 and 13 to go three ahead of Smyth – reminding the chasing pack why his nickname is the ‘baby-faced assassin’.

Smyth closed the gap to two with a birdie on 16 but Poom birdied the same hole soon after for a healthy cushion playing the last two holes.

Poom’s last win on the Asian Tour came in the BNI Indonesia Masters in December of 2018, an event he also won in 2016. His other victory came at the 2017 TAKE Solutions Masters, in India.

His front-running win in Taipei was typical of the Thai golfer. He claimed his first Indonesian Masters title by five shots, the second by three, and triumphed in India by going wire-to-wire.

This week was made more special by the fact that his fiancée, Piyatida, or ‘Ing Ing’, caddied for him.

“It makes her feel successful!” said Poom, who won US$135,000. “Two weeks ago I almost won on the All Thailand Tour. I had a good chance to win but I three-putted 17. She cried and I felt guilty. I think this time she’s going to forget that moment.”

The 30-year-old has talked about giving up tournament golf in the past because of the pressure of having to make the cut, week in, week out, but now heads to this week’s Hangzhou Asian Games with renewed confidence. 

Smyth went bogey-free, like Poom, but fell just short of his second win on the Asian Tour.

“I played pretty damn good, a bogey-free five-under,” said the 28-year-old. “I had a lot of looks, wasn’t able to keep it going, but can’t really ask for much more.

“I love this place and I think this course likes me as well. I hit it in the trees a couple times and got some lucky kicks back into the fairway and that sort of thing. I just have a good feeling about this place. It’s funny because I came here before I won, I played here one other time, and I hated it. I played terrible.

“It was my first year on the Asian Tour and I couldn’t figure out the grain, putted awfully. I just feel like playing in Asia for so long now I can read the lies from the rough, I can read the greens a lot better, a lot more comfortable.”

The Asian Tour remains in Chinese-Taipei this week for the US$1 million Mercuries Taiwan Masters at Taiwan Golf & Country Club.

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