Cool-Cat Kamte Tops Class

Sun 08 Feb 2009

Cool-Cat Kamte Tops Class

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Bangkok, February 8: South Africa?s James Kamte began his rookie year on the Asian Tour with the very best of starts by lifting his maiden title at the season-opening Asian Tour International on Sunday.
Kamte held off a spirited challenge from a determined Tetsuji Hiratsuka of Japan by closing with a five-under 66 for a 16-under-par 268 total to pip the Japanese to the title by two shots.
Overnight leader Hiratsuka, who came into the final round with a slender one shot lead, finished on even-par 71 for a 270 total to take second place while Australia?s Unho Park and Marcus Both together with Thailand?s Prom Meesawat and Philippines? Juvic Pagunsan all took a share of third place on matching 271s.
It was always going to be a close tussle for the lead at the top of the leaderboard with the quality of play at the Suwan Golf and Country Club at its highest.
Kamte got off quickly with two birdies on his opening two holes. He survived a nasty scare on the fifth hole when he dropped a shot for bogey which allowed Park to move ahead of him at that stage.
However, the South African, who finished fourth at Qualifying school, stormed into contention after the turn with birdies on the 11th, 13th and 16th holes when the others began to falter.
?To win the first tournament as a rookie on the Asian Tour is really a dream come true. I?ve always wanted this to happen and hopefully this is not going to be my last one,? said the rookie who also took home the winner?s purse of US$47,550.
?I knew I was hitting the ball really good the whole week and I just needed to make the putts. I kept my faith in the lord and everything just went my way,? added Kamte.
After committing a series of errors that resulted in three bogeys on his opening first and second hole as well as the 14th, Hiratsuka lost his grip on his overnight lead.
He tried to stage a late comeback with three birdies in his inward nine but it was not going to be enough to catch Kamte and had to settle for second place.
?Kamte played very well today and I would like to congratulate him. Hopefully, it?ll be my turn the next time,? said Hiratsuka.
Thailand?s Prom Meesawat, who started the day in tied-ninth, got the home crowd going with three successive birdies at the start.
The 24-year-old Thai, who last won an Asian Tour event in 2006 at the SK Telecom Open, made a quick surge with that strong start.
However, bogeys on the sixth and seventh halted his charge momentarily. He recorded another birdie on the ninth before mixing another four birdies with a bogey after the turn to take a share of the third place.
?I think I performed beyond my expectations this week. It?s a big boost for me especially with the long season ahead. The home crowd has been fantastic all week and to have them cheering for me all the time is very heartening,? said Prom.
But perhaps the biggest move of the day belonged to China?s Wu Ashun.
Starting the day in tied-30th, Wu?s made a dramatic surge up the leaderboard by firing a total of nine birdies to fashion a superb final round 63.
It would have been even better if not for his wayward shot that found the rough on the 190-yard par-three seven, eventually resulting in a lone bogey.
?That shot was a real pity. Things might have really changed if I had got a birdie then. But it?s okay, it has been a great week and it can only get better,? said Wu who posted a four-day round score of 67, 71, 71 and 63.
The Chinese eventually finished on 272 in tied-seventh place.
Leading final round scores
268 - James Kamte (RSA) 71-63-68-66
270 - Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN) 64-68-67-71
271 - Marcus Both (AUS) 63-68-72-68, Prom Meesawat (THA) 69-68-68-66
Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 67-71-65-68, Unho Park (AUS) 65-69-66-71
272 - Wu Ashun (CHN) 67-71-71-63, Mark Purser (NZL) 68-66-71-67, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 65-69-68-70
273 - Atthaphon Prathummanee (THA) 68-68-71-66
274 - Simon Griffiths (ENG) 68-71-71-64, Mo Joong-Kyung (KOR) 66-70-73-65, Gavin Flint (AUS) 67-69-70-68, Iain Steel (MAS) 72-63-70-69, Ted Oh (KOR) 68-66-69-71
275 - Noh Seung-Yul (KOR) 68-66-75-66
276 - Kodai Ichihara (JPN) 66-69-74-67, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 71-68-68-69, Tim Stewart (AUS) 69-69-68-70, Danny Chia (MAS) 67-69-69-71
Ends.
About the Asian Tour
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 Carlsberg (Official Beer), ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider), TIME and FORTUNE (Corporate Partner) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore?s premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.
For further information, please contact Asian Tour?s Calvin Koh at the Asian Tour International?s media center, tel: +66 34 339 452