BGB staff writer
PHUKET, THAILAND: Thai talent Chanachok Dejpiratanamongkol endured a nervous finish to close with a three-under-par 67, completing a wire-to-wire victory for his maiden Asian Development Tour (ADT) title at the inaugural Singha Phuket Open on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Thai, who held a four-shot advantage heading into the final round, dropped two bogeys in his closing three holes to sign off with a four-day total of 27-under-par 253, claiming a one-shot victory in the two million baht (approximately US$58,140) ADT event.
Newly-crowned Asian Tour champion Rattanon Wannasrichan of Thailand gave himself a fighting chance for a back-to-back win as he rolled in a birdie putt from one club length on the last to close with a 64 and take second place on his own at the highly-rated Laguna Golf Phuket.
Thai hotshot Sutijet Kooratanapisan stole the limelight by producing a magnificent 59 to grab third place on 256. His sizzling round of 59, highlighted by one eagle and nine birdies, would have been a new record on the ADT if not for the preferred lies ruling in place.
Chanachok, who secured his Asian Tour card at the Qualifying School in January and landed his first professional win on the local circuit in March, continued to make it a season to remember by sealing his first ADT title on home soil this week.
“I got really nervous towards the end, especially after dropping two shots. I didn’t drive the ball well today. I kind of lost my game plan on the last few holes but luckily, I was still able to par the last to secure my title.
“This win means a lot to me. It will give me a lot of confidence heading into the rest of the season. I am also happy because this win will boost my world ranking,” said Chanachok, who shot superb rounds of 62, 61 and 63 before heading into the final 18 holes.
Chanachok takes home the winner’s prize purse of US$8,697 and receives six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, courtesy of his victory. The top six players and ties will also receive OWGR points based on a sliding scale.
Despite surmounting a strong challenge on the final day with seven birdies against one bogey, Rattanon was magnanimous in defeat and tipped his hat to Chanachok.
“I played solid again. I tried to birdie the last three holes but 16 was too difficult. I gave myself a good chance by making a great birdie on the last. I am very pleased with the way I played despite missing out on the win,” said the 21-year-old Rattanon, a one-time winner on the ADT.
Sutijet, who headed into the final round with a 11-shot deficit, sank a 15-footer for birdie on the last to set a new personal best 18-hole score for himself. He had fired a scintillating 12-under-par 60 to claim his first ADT title in Malaysia last April.
“I wasn’t even thinking about winning the tournament out there. After turning in with a front-nine 30, my aim was to try and shoot a 59 to beat my own record. I wasn’t thinking much towards the end too. My iron-play was solid and I was just riding on that confidence.
“I had a chip-in birdie from 15 yards on the 15 and that got my momentum going and somehow sparked the four birdies in a row coming in. I am really pleased with my round. I was just aiming to shoot four or five-under at the start of the day,” Sutijet said.