2012 Rewind: Our Favourite 18 Moments

Sat 29 Dec 2012

2012 Rewind: Our Favourite 18 Moments

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December 29: As 2012 comes to a close, asiantour.com picks their favourite 18 moments which made a remarkable season even better.



1. Anirban Lahiri at the British Open.

Anirban Lahiri enjoyed a memorable British Open debut at Royal Lytham and St Annes as he and Jeev Milkha Singh wrote a small slice of history by becoming the first two Indians to qualify for the weekend rounds in a Major championship.


But young Lahiri savoured a once-in-a-lifetime feeling when he shot a hole in one during the third round and subsequently finished his week on a high note by ending up in a commendable tied 31st position.


“Just when I thought that it was fantastic, it gets even better. Like I said right from the start, it's just been fantastic. That's (the hole in one) probably the icing on the cake today,” said a delighted Lahiri.


“You're just looking around, you don't know how to express yourself, and then you see your dad jumping up out there blowing you kisses. These moments don't come every day.”


2. Thaworn Wiratchant conducting English interviews at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.

The Thai maestro has never been comfortable conducting interviews in English although he understands the language well and speaks fairly decent English. In Selangor, his manager wasn’t on site and we coaxed Thaworn to speak in English to the Malaysian press. Here are some of the memorable lines that he came out during the week:


“Now, I’m very relaxed. I come to play, see good friends. I’m 46 now, no longer a young boy. No longer 36, no longer have good power. I practice too much. I wake up at 5.20 every morning, my wife will ask me “Where are you going?” I will go to the golf course and then come back at 8.10 and at 9, I’ll go out to the course again. I like doing so, I like to play golf. If I don’t play golf or practice, I get very tired and I’ll be sleeping at home.”

 

“I’m feeling good about my chances. But don’t know what will happen. I know Michael (Tran) as he plays on the Thai tour. He is a long hitter. He has won one tournament, beat me and Prayad (Marksaeng). I know him and have played with him on many occasions.”

 

“After the double on eight and bogey on nine (during third round), I said I’m dead. My heart was okay but my feeling was like I didn’t have any power. On the 10th tee, I think I must come back. I was aiming for two or three under but five under I was really happy. It was a good comeback.”

 

“First time I joined the Asian Tour, I couldn’t make the cut. I never thought I would come this far. After I won my first, then I thought I could win and I kept practising more and more and more. I made myself get better.”


3. Mardan Mamat’s emotional victory at the ICTSI Philippine Open

It isn’t very often that professional golfers cry during interviews but Mardan Mamat laid bare his emotions after ending a six-year title drought at the ICTSI Philippine Open. Into his 40s now, the Singaporean had endured a dismal 2011 season but he got into contention from the get-go at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club to secure a commanding five-shot wire-to-wire victory.


When asked what it meant to finally win again after so long, Mardan shed tears as he spoke of the encouragement from his wife, Naz during the lean years of not winning on the Asian Tour.


“My wife (Naz) encouraged and pushed me a lot to practice. She said you love the game so much and why must you quit. There was a time when I said it was time for me to be a golf coach but she said ‘not in your dreams’,” said a teary-eyed Mardan.


It brought goose-bumps to the media in attendance that evening.


4. David Lipsky’s maiden triumph at the Handa Faldo Cambodian Classic

This was probably the comeback story of the season. Starting the final round seven shots behind, American David Lipsky went land a first Asian Tour title at the Handa Faldo Cambodian Classic via a memorable play-off.


The Qualifying School winner stormed up the leaderboard with a closing round of seven-under-par 65 to put himself in contention. He waited nervously at the driving range for the last group to come in as Filipino Elmer Salvador still had a chance for an outright win with a closing birdie.


However, the Filipino slid his putt wide of the cup which sent the two players into the play-off. After both players missed the green, Lipsky produced his winning shot by chipping in for birdie and the victory.


It was a perfect time to hole out as six-time Major champion Nick Faldo had just arrived at the Angkor Golf Resort, a course he designed, and watched the play-off unfold. “I put on my CBS hat and called that winning shot,” said Faldo proudly.


5. Thaworn Wiratchant’s press conference after winning the Order of Merit

Thaworn Wiratchant isn’t a man who smiles too often as his focus on the game is always 110 per cent. But after it emerged that he would win the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit for a second time and become the oldest player to achieve the magnificent feat, the veteran star was finally at ease with himself.


He spoke candidly to the press when asked about his latest achievement in a stellar career which sees him holding an unprecedented 15 Asian Tour victories. Below are some excerpts of his press conference:


What’s the difference between winning the Order of Merit in 2005 and now?

This year I only won three titles but in 2005 I won four events! The competitors are different now. There are new players coming in and I’m getting older. That’s not an excuse but I definitely tried harder this time compared to last time. This is the result of hard work.


Will you play in fewer tournaments next year?

If Asian Tour has 12 weeks in a row then I will play all 12. I will never stop.


Did you ever think you can still win so many tournaments at this age?

I never thought I could win the Order of Merit at this age. I just enjoy playing week by week and meet my friends. I’m quite happy with that.


Don’t you feel tired when you play in so many tournaments?

This is my work and my career. Why do you come to work every day? That’s why I play in every tournament that I can. I love golf. Every day I spend time training and I only spend time with my family on Sunday. I love golf a lot. When I stay at home, I practice more than when I play in an 18-hole tournament.


6. Jbe Kruger outscoring Tiger Woods by three shots at CIMB Classic

One of the most satisfying feelings on the Asian Tour is when one of our members outshines the stars of the game.

South Africa’s Jbe Kruger enjoyed the privilege and honour of outscoring playing partner Tiger Woods by three shots during the second round of the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.


Woods, a 14-time Major champion, has such an aura that can intimidate a playing partner but the slightly built Kruger stood tall that day at the Mines Resort and Golf Club to come home in 64 against Woods’ 67.


“It's fun to play with him. I enjoyed every moment, every second. I was nervous at the start and I was still nervous on 18!” said Kruger.

 

7. Scott Hend winning the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic

Looking at the Australian’s dead-pan face, you can never imagine that he can be one to give the most colourful quotes. But looks can be deceiving as the often serious and sullen face broke into a not-too-often smile when he won his second Asian Tour title at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic.


After having to endure almost an hour of waiting before knowing that he won, Hend’s analogy of an impatient husband waiting for his wife drew laughter from the press which were often used to tired and clichés lines.


“It’s sort of like you’re going out and have to wait for your wife to do her hair or something. You’re just sitting around and pacing around and that was what I was feeling then. I just wanted it to be over and know whether I’ve won or not. Luckily for me, I won,” said Hend.


8. Jbe Kruger finally shedding his bridesmaid tag

For so long, South Africa’s Jbe Kruger has always lived in the shadows of his winning compatriots. Since joining the Asian Tour in 2009, Kruger has famously been known as the nearly man.


But golf, as in life, will eventually reward the deserving and it was indeed satisfying not only for Kruger but also his legion of fans when he eventually earned his career breakthrough at the Avantha Masters.


“It’s a big relief now that I’ve won but I think I needed all those second –placed finishes to be able to appreciate this,” said Kruger.


9. Arnond winning his maiden title at the King’s Cup

Although the young Thai was only playing in his rookie season on the Asian Tour, Arnond displayed the form of a seasoned professional to pip veterans Mardan Mamat of Singapore and Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant to the title on the final day.


Never to be cowed by the marquee names and the big occasion, Arnond overcame a three-shot deficit on the final day to stake his place in the winner’s circle.


“This win means a lot to me as I now have a two-year winner’s exemption and I can focus on playing well at the every tournament that I take part in,” said Arnond.


10. Javi Colomo finding love on and off the fairways at UBS Hong Kong Open

It was a nice start to the morning when the local papers had a full photo spread of Javi Colomo and his wife Cristina kissing after Colomo stole the opening day limelight with his first round lead at the UBS Hong Kong Open.


As his faithful caddy and wife, Colomo has often stated how indebted he is to his wife for being his pillar of support.


When showed the full-page spread of him and his wife, the slightly embarrassed Colomo knows their partnership is one that he can always count upon.


“She reads the greens very well. It’s amazing, so much better than me.   I always believe her.  When she says it's towards the left edge, and I hit it there, almost 99 per cent, it's right,” said Colomo.


Although there is still a big debate on who calls the shots, it is clear that the Colomos are very much in love and will have a lifetime to find out who wears the pants.


“Who is the boss?  I am the boss.  Maybe at home, she is the boss.  I don't know, but I do know we work very well together,” said Colomo.


“No, he’s always the boss,” said Juan who has been happily married to Colomo for two years.


11. Bhullar dedicating win to Lu at Yeanger TPC

There may be rivals on the course but share a close friendship outside the ropes. So when news of Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wei-chih not returning to defend his title at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship (TPC) broke, India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar’s thoughts of his close friend were never far from his mind.


“Lu’s a great friend of mine and it’s sad that he has to go through something like this. I hope to have him back on Tour again very soon and compete against him as he’s a very good player,” said Bhullar.

 

Lu had to pass up the opportunity to defend his title as he was recovering from a brain tumour surgery. Bhular would go on to win his third Asian Tour title and like a true champion, he demonstrated humility, showing that winning is not everything and there’s more to life than golf.


“I want to dedicate this win to Lu Wei-chih and I hope he gets well soon,” said Bhullar.

 

12. Lahiri taming the ghost of his past with his win at the SBI-SAIL Open

Like all good stories, there’s always a happy ending.


After having to endure a torrid time with his perpetual poor track record at the Delhi Golf Club, India’s Anirban Lahiri knew he had to seek divine help to rewrite the script.


That help duly arrived in the form of Vipassna, one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation. Since becoming a Vipassna meditation follower, it paid off when Lahiri lift his second Asian Tour title at the SAIL-SBI Open.


“I’ve changed my mental attitude towards golf. I’ve become a Vipassna meditation follower on the course and that helped me stay in the moment. It has put me more at peace with myself, the environment, my surroundings and with my family. That’s what’s reflecting on the golf course,” said Lahiri, who defeated Thailand’s Prom Meesawat on the first play-off hole.


13. Kieran Pratt winning his first Asian Tour title at the Zaykabar Myanmar Open

Straight after regaining his Asian Tour card at Qualifying School, Kieran Pratt sensationally won the Zaykabar Myanmar Open in emphatic style.


The lanky Australian was five shots off the lead heading into the final round but rallied with a 68 to force a three-way play-off with Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and countryman Adam Blyth, which he eventually won.


“Fantastic. It feels great to win the first event of the year. Obviously you want to get off to a fast start but to win is obviously better,” smiled Pratt.


“I felt like I was a long way from the lead but walking up the 14, 15 and 16 holes, I kind of felt like the leaders were going nowhere. I told myself if I could get a couple of birdies on the way back, I could force a play-off and then I eagled the 18th hole,” said the 23-year-old.


14. Digvijay Singh gets a call from Jeev Milkha Singh during his Panasonic Open India winner’s press conference.

Nice guys don’t finish last as Digvijay Singh can prove it but it took him 12 long years to cap his first Asian Tour win at the Panasonic Open India.


Singh produced a grandstand finish with a 12-foot birdie putt on the last to defeat Asian Tour winners Siddikur of Bangladesh and Gaganjeet Bhullar of India by two shots and was immediately greeted by hugs from his brother-in-law Jyoti Randhawa.


“This is very special for me. There’s no feeling better than winning an Asian Tour title in India at the Delhi Golf Club. I’ve won on the local circuit before but this takes the cake,” said Digvijay.


Halfway through his press conference, he received a call from two-time Order of Merit winner Singh, “Sorry guys but I need to take this, Jeev is calling.” The press obliged, fully aware what the victory meant to him.


15. Masanori Kobayashi wins the Asia Pacific Panasonic Open with a 62

There’s no better way to win your first Asian Tour title than making a superb charge and carding a 62.


Masanori Kobayashi did just that as he overcame a six-shot deficit en route to matching the second best nine hole score of seven-under-par 28 on the Asian Tour.


“My dream was always to win on the Asian Tour and in Japan and I’ve enjoyed the best of both Tours. This is indeed a very happy occasion in my career,” said the lanky 36-year-old.


He could have gone lower but missed a tricky eight foot birdie putt on the last in front of the huge galleries.


“When I missed that putt, I thought I was going to be in a play-off with Koumei (Oda). I was very nervous until fans started coming over and congratulating me because Oda made par on 18,” he smiled.


16. Pacman vows fans and Asian Tour stars at ICTSI Philippine Open

Filipino boxing world welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao was the star at the pro-am of the ICTSI Philippine Open.


Pacquiao, playing alongside Frankie Minoza, helped raise 105,960 pesos for the victims of Typhoon Sendong in northern Mindanao.


He also participated in a mock photo shoot with Minoza where both sportsmen wore gloves and posed in boxing gloves at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.


Pacquiao also took time to sign autographs for fans, caddies and even Asian Tour players Unho Park of Australia and Malaysia's Iain Steel.

 

17. Jonathan Moore’s 61 at the Iskandar Johor Open

Jonathan Moore has come a long way since winning the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit in 2011.


He enjoyed many solid results on the Asian Tour in 2012 but it was his runner-up result at the Iskandar Johor Open which really stood out as he shot a final round 61 to finish three shots from the winner Sergio Garcia, who matched the American’s effort.


“It was a really special day. I had a clear focus today and felt good on the greens. It was probably the best I have ever done because I didn’t have any fear over any shots. It is probably one of those things in my career that you don’t doubt and worry where the ball might end up,” said Moore.


“It has been a good season. I’m just so thankful. It is hard to put it into words but it is such a huge blossom. This is my best score. I’ve shot two 62s before and won! But this time, there’s a guy named Sergio Garcia who also shot a 61. It was a lot of fun to do that today,” he added.

 

18. Boonchu Ruangkit finishes on the bubble to earn 2013 Asian Tour card

At the perch of the Order of Merit sits Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and at the other end, sits Boonchu Ruangkit, 10 years older than his countryman!


The veteran enjoyed a steady season with three top-10s and looked set on sealing the deal after a tied 39th result at the US$1 million Thailand Golf Championship.


But in a dramatic turnaround of events, only four players from 48th to 66th position on the Order of Merit including Boonchu (48th) missed the halfway cut at the season-ending Iskandar Johor Open.


He had a nervy wait at the weather delayed US$2 million event but eventually popped the champagne when he finished 61st on the Order of Merit and earned the final ticket to earn playing rights for the 2013 Asian Tour season.