Chawalit Claims Victory in Samui

Sun 11 Jun 2006

Chawalit Claims Victory in Samui

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Samui, Thailand, June 11: Thailand's Chawalit Plaphol delivered a popular home victory at the US$300,000 Bangkok Airways Open after edging Canadian Rick Gibson in a sudden-death play-off on Sunday.


Both players finished atop the leaderboard on three-under-par 281 but Chawalit, who carded the day's best of four-under-par 67, claimed his second Asian Tour title with a par on the 18th hole in extra time while Gibson bogeyed after missing a four-foot putt.


Singapore's Mardan Mamat came desperately close to joining the play-off, sliding a 15-foot birdie attempt wide on 18 as he settled for a 71 and third place. Last year's winner Lu Wen-teh of Chinese Taipei saw his hopes vanish with a disastrous triple bogey eight on the par five 17th when he was leading by one shot, and signed for a 75 and fourth place on 283.


Malaysia's Iain Steel and Thai Prayad Marksaeng shared fifth on 284.


"I'm very happy. Although I won in Japan two years ago, this is only my second Asian Tour title since 1998 and to do it in Thailand is very nice," said Chawalit.


Chawalit and Gibson missed the 18th green in regulation in the play-off but the Thai nearly chipped in for birdie. Manila-based Gibson left his chip short and handed victory to Chawalit by missing his putt. "When I got into the play-off, I told myself that I needed to fight on and I wanted to chip in for birdie as I was feeling very good. I nearly did but it didn't matter in the end," said Chawalit, who won US$47, 550.


The Thai was six shots off the lead starting the day but he attacked the tough par-71 Santiburi Samui Country Club, nicknamed the 'Samui Beast', with his trademark aggressive play and enjoyed a superb front nine 30 with five birdies.


Bogeys on 10 and 12 slowed him down before he nailed another birdie on 16 to stay in contention. "I'm an aggressive player and I didn't change my style on this course although it's such a tough track. On the front nine, I was feeling so good and hit my drives and approach shots close to the pin. I knew six shots back wasn't much and I just kept playing hard."


Gibson, the 2002 Philippine Open winner, stayed in touch with the leaders with a solid display, going to three under par for the round through 16 holes before missing a short putt on 17 for bogey as his hopes of winning with his 14-year-old son Karl as caddie dipped.


"It was nice to be in the hunt, it's been a while," said Gibson. "It's not disappointing losing a play-off, it's disappointing to lose by making a bogey. It was a bad chip."


The Canadian also rued a costly bogey on 17 after hitting a poor second shot into trouble. "I didn't trust the shot. I thought it would stay up in the wind and it didn't. I've been impatient on the course pretty much since the end of last year and Karl kind of settled me down. It was a fun week having him along."


The 17th proved to be a nemesis for both Mardan and Lu. The Singaporean bogeyed the hole with a three putt after charging his first attempt six foot past. "I didn't realise that the three putt on 17 would cost me a place in the play-off.


"I hit the first putt too hard and then I missed the comebacker. I knew one under or even par could be enough today and I stuck to my game. It is a bit disappointing but I'm pleased with my whole week here," said Mardan, who won the co-sanctioned Osim Singapore Masters earlier this year.


It was a bitter blow for title holder Lu as he looked so steady all day until reaching the 17th, a stunning par five that measures 643 yards but with trouble written all over it. He hit a good drive but was unlucky it landed in a divot. His second shot got into thick rough, and after a 'duffed' shot and two chips later, the champion's fate was sealed when he three-putted from 20 feet for triple bogey.


"It was just one bad hole which cost me," said Lu, who could still afford a smile after signing for a 75. "I hit a good drive but got unlucky and before I knew it, I was staggering off the green with a big number."

Leading final round scores

281 - Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 71-70-73-67, Rick Gibson (CAN) 69-72-71-69

(Chawalit wins play-off with par on the first hole of sudden-death)


282 - Mardan Mamat (SIN) 70-69-72-71

283 - Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 68-68-72-75

284 - Iain Steel (MAS) 66-78-72-68, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 67-70-74-73

286 - Lee Sung (KOR) 71-71-70-74

287 - S.S.P. Chowrasia (IND) 73-71-74-69, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 74-73-68-72, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 68-73-72-74

288 - Chen Yuan-chi (TPE) 74-73-68-73

290 - Anthony Kang (USA) 73-71-76-70, Digvijay Singh (IND) 81-67-72-70

292 - Simon Nash (AUS) 74-77-70-71, P. Gunasegaran (MAS) 73-69-76-74, Garth Mulroy (RSA) 72-75-69-76

293 - Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 72-73-74-74, Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 73-70-74-76

294 - Somkiat Srisanga (THA) 71-72-80-71, Amandeep Johl (IND) 75-76-72-71, Park Jun-won (KOR) 72-73-75-74, Prom Meesawat (THA) 72-70-76-76