Garcia savours victory in Thailand

Chonburi, Thailand, December 15: Spaniard Sergio Garcia claimed a sensational four-shot victory at the Thailand Golf Championship on Sunday, thanks to a final round of four-under-par 68 which gave him a first victory of 2013.

The Ryder Cup  star, who held an overnight four-shot advantage, held off world number three Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who also signed for a 68 in the US$1 million Asian Tour event at Amata Spring Country Club.

Alexander Levy of France

Alexander Levy of France

Frenchman Alexander Levy carded a 69 to finish third while India’s Anirban Lahiri emerged as the joint best Asian performer by sharing fourth place with Japan’s Yuki Kono (69), last year’s winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa (67) and world number four Justin Rose of England (72). Chapchai Nirat was the highest placed Thai golfer in tied eighth after a 69.

In a year which has seen him post 10 top-10s around the world, world number 19 Garcia, who is expected to rise to 10th in the world after picking up 38 world ranking points, produced some of his best golf to break his duck in front of massive galleries at the magnificent Amata Spring.

Stenson, winner of the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and PGA Tour’s FedExCup this season, trimmed the overnight lead by half at the turn but Garcia shifted into fifth gear with three successive birdies from the 10th hole to eventually cruise home comfortably and pick up his 21st Tour victory and fourth on the Asian Tour with his 22-under-par 266 winning aggregate.

Henrik Stenson of Sweden

Henrik Stenson of Sweden

“It was great, an amazing week …. obviously being the last week of the year and for having Katharina (Boehm) caddie for me,” said the 33-year-old, who had his girlfriend on caddying duty here.

“I knew Henrik was going to make it difficult for me. He’s been playing so amazingly great, and he did. He kept hitting good shot after good shot. And then when I bogeyed seven, I had to make a good par save on nine after getting a bit unlucky with the approach shot. And then I made three very important birdies on the first three on the back nine and gave myself a little bit of a cushion,” added Garcia, who finished fourth here last year.

After safely hitting the floating island green on the par three signature 17th hole and finding the fairway on 18, it was only then that Garcia could enjoy the victory march up the final green.

Sergio Garcia of Spain

Sergio Garcia of Spain

“I pretty much knew that finishing par, par, the tournament was pretty much mine, and then just making sure I kept the tee shot dry on 18 and I hit a great second shot with a six iron, and once the ball came out of the clubface, I knew that I was pretty much done,” said Garcia, who pocketed US$180,000.

Stenson, who has been enjoying dinners with Garcia throughout the week in Bangkok, lamented missed opportunities on eight and nine which would have drawn him level with the Spaniard.

“I’ve had a great year but coming here really on the fumes left in the tank, not too much going for me to perform in that sense. But I played really nicely yesterday and I was hanging in there today and I was just coming up a couple short,” said the Swede, who has won three times since August.

“I needed something really, really good to happen on eight and nine but I didn’t make those two birdie putts and Sergio was hanging in there, made one or two good saves and then he made three birdies in a row, and pulled away. Congratulations to Sergio on a great week. He played really well.”

Playing in the last group with Garcia and Stenson, Lahiri got off to a bright start with a birdie on two but failed to build on any momentum with bogeys on eight and 14 leaving him in a share of fourth place.

“It was a disappointing round. I don’t think I was as focused as I needed to be on the greens. I missed a lot of putts, especially on the back nine. I couldn’t get any momentum. Any time I hit a good shot, I would miss the putt. It was probably my worst round of golf in three tournaments, so not a great time but still happy with the way I played this week,” said Lahiri.

Justin Rose of England

Justin Rose of England

Rose failed to mount a title charge, missing some early opportunities to eventually settle for a share of fourth position to conclude a season which saw him winning a first Major trophy at the U.S. Open.

“It was like yesterday, hit it to four foot on the first hole and missed it, and then drove it in the bunker at the second. So, momentum was difficult, and the weather was very tough. But, I’ve enjoyed my week and I’m happy to put the clubs down for a few weeks but I thought it was a really fun tournament. It’s been an amazing year,” said the Englishman.

Scores after round 4 of the Thailand Golf Championship 2013 being played at the par 72, 7,488 Yards Amata Spring CC course (a- denotes amateur):
266 – Sergio GARCIA (ESP) 68-65-65-68.
270 – Henrik STENSON (SWE) 70-67-65-68.
274 – Alexander LEVY (FRA) 70-65-70-69.
275 – Charl SCHWARTZEL (RSA) 68-73-67-67, Yuki KONO (JPN) 72-69-65-69, Justin ROSE (ENG) 65-68-70-72, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 71-64-67-73.
277 – Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 72-69-67-69, Rickie FOWLER (USA) 70-66-71-70.
278 – Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 71-71-68-68, Marcus FRASER (AUS) 69-73-67-69, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 66-73-69-70.
279 – Hunter MAHAN (USA) 71-72-68-68, Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA) 74-68-65-72.
280 – BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 72-71-68-69, Ryo ISHIKAWA (JPN) 74-68-68-70, Berry HENSON (USA) 72-71-66-71.
281 – Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 72-72-71-66, Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) 69-70-72-70, Masanori KOBAYASHI (JPN) 75-68-67-71, Alex CEJKA (GER) 64-71-73-73, Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 69-68-71-73, D.A. POINTS (USA) 73-69-66-73, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 71-68-67-75, KIM Gi-whan (KOR) 74-68-64-75.

About the Thailand Golf Championship
The primary organizers of the event are Gulf Sports Management, the Asian Tour and IMG. They have been well supported by both government and private organizations such as Siam Commercial Bank, Gulf JP, Toyota, Tourism Authority of Thailand, PTT Public Company Ltd, PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited, PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited, Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Thaioil, IRPC, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Omega, Nooter / Eriksen, Samithivej Hospital, Starwood, CNN, SuperSports, Heineken, Ricoh, Graham Beck Wines, EST Cola, Panasonic, Srixon, Central Pattana, Bangkok Post and Amata Spring Country Club.

Thailand Golf Championship tickets are available at Thaiticketmajor at Baht 300 each for Round 1 and 2 (December 12 and 13). The price for Round 3 (December 14) is Baht 400, and for the final day on December 15 the price is Baht 500. A 4-day package ticket is only Baht 800. Children below the age of 16 and senior citizens 60-years-old and over can enjoy Thailand Golf Championship for free. Special offers for SCB Credit Card, PTT Blue Card, SPG Member Card and Samitivej Patient and Staff Card holders are available till December 11, 2013. Please call 02-262-3456 or visit www.thaiticketmajor.com for details.

About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Subway (Official Quick Service Restaurant), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf