Fabulous Thailand Win Fortis International Challenge

Sun 30 Sep 2007

Fabulous Thailand Win Fortis International Challenge

Kuala Lumpur, September 30: Thai hotshots Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng put on an exhibition of golf with a final round eight-under-par 64 in the foursomes to win the Fortis International Challenge on Sunday.

Thailand finished the qualifying event for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup with a staggering 30-under-par 258 aggregate, three shots clear of Holland?s Maarten Lafeber and Robert-Jan Derksen, who closed with a 67.

With the top five teams qualifying for November?s World Cup in China, New Zealand?s Richard Lee and Stephen Scahill claimed third place with a superb 67 while Korean duo Lee Sung and Lee Seung-ho took fourth place after a 69 which included two closing birdies.

Filipino duo Tony Lascuna and Gerald Rosales earned the fifth and final ticket after surviving a nail-biting finish. They pulled off a courageous birdie on the 18th hole at Kota Permai Golf and Country Club to pip Malaysia?s Iain Steel and Airil Rizman and Singapore?s Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat by a single stroke.

Thailand?s spectacular display saw Thongchai?s wish come true as he has never featured in the World Cup previously. ?It feels good. I have a very good partner in Prayad. He played very well this week, he was just so steady. I told Prayad that if he can hit his irons well at the start of the round, we could get some birdies early on as my putting has been good. It was easy. We didn?t miss a single green which was very good,? said Thongchai.

?I think we can go to China now with some confidence. If we can perform like this, we?ll have a good chance in the World Cup. We?ve never played at the Mission Hill?s Olazabal course before but you?ll never know. If we play like this again, we?ll have a chance,? added the two-time Asian Tour number one.

Overnight joint leaders Derksen and Lafeber earned their fourth World Cup appearance as the pair after overcoming a sluggish start in the alternate-shot format. They three putted the par five first hole for par, missed an easy birdie chance at the next and then dropped a bogey after their drive ended up in a divot on the fairway. ?We started off a bit unlucky but the birdie on the fourth changed everything and after that we played very solid. It?s mission accomplished for us.?

Lafeber tipped his cap to the terrific Thais. ?I told Robert that we have to stay close to the Thai boys as they played fantastic today and they were hard to catch. They played unbelievable and holed a few big putts. I didn?t play too good but we mixed as a team great again.?


Lee and Scahill were solid for New Zealand as they eased their way into third place with a 67, highlighted by an eagle on the first hole. ?It?s great. It?s a bit of a vindication as in the last couple of years, the New Zealand Golf Association has not sent a team to qualifying. So for Richard and myself, we are pleased to prove a point,? said Scahill.

Korea survived a wobble on the back nine with bogeys on 12and 15 but the Lees, who earned their maiden World Cup appearance, showed great fighting spirit to clinch their ticket by birdieing the closing two holes with some superb shot-making.

?We played pretty well on the front nine with two birdies but on the back nine Lee Sung missed a tee shot on 12 and we made bogey and on 15, I drove it into the water,? said Seung-ho. ?We knew we couldn?t play it safe anymore and we made sure we kept our focus and I?m glad we made it through.?

Lascuna and Rosales survived a double bogey scare on the 16th hole after finding the watery grave to finish fifth on 268. A glorious chip from a difficult lie from Lascuna on last hole set Rosales up for a short birdie putt which saw them avoid a play-off with Malaysia and Singapore, who had earlier finished on 269.

?After finishing the front nine in four under, we were relaxed. Then suddenly, the bogeys came but we still felt alright. Lascuna?s tee shot on 16th hit the water and that changed things a little bit,? said Rosales. ?We lost it on 15th and 16th but when it mattered the most, we made it. It?s my fourth time trying to qualify and I?ve now done it. Tony is my lucky charm.?

Lascuna, who has enjoyed two top-threes on the Asian Tour over the past month, said: ?I feel excited, it?ll be my second World Cup. I?m sure it?s going to be good for Philippine golf as it?s been a while since we qualified for the event. Hopefully we?ll play good in China.?

It was a bitter-sweet ending for Singapore?s Mardan and Lam, winners of the last two qualifiers in Malaysia. They fought gamely to move to five under for the round but Lam agonizingly missed a four-foot birdie chance on the last which would have forced a play-off.

?It?s a funny game. Two shots just skimmed by on the 17th and 18th hole. We were very unfortunate to let some shots go away but we played great today,? said Lam. Singapore earned first alternate status after they beat Malaysia in a play-off.

The Omega World Cup will be held at the Mission Hills Golf Club in China from November 22-25.

Final Round Results

258 ?Thailand (Thongchai Jaidee, Prayad Marksaeng) 61-70-63-64

261 ? Holland (Robert-Jan Derksen, Maarten Lafeber) 64-69-61-67

266 - New Zealand (Richard Lee, Stephen Scahill) 66-67-66-67

267 ? Korea (Lee Seung-Ho, Lee Sung) 65-67-66-69

268 ? Philippines (Tony Lascuna, Gerald Rosales) 65-68-64-71

(The top-five teams qualify for the Omega Mission Hills World Cup)

269 ? Singapore (Lam Chih Bing, Mardan Mamat) 66- 72-64-67, Malaysia (Airil Rizman, Iain Steel) 61-75-67-66

272 ? Myanmar (Zaw Moe, Soe Kyaw Naing) 68-68-61-75

273 - Chinese Taipei (Lin Wen-Tang, Lin Wen-Hong) 65-70-69-69

274 ? Switzerland (Martin Rominger, Robert Wiederkehr) 67-74-65-68

280 ? Pakistan (Matloob Ahmed, Muhammad Munir) 66-76-69-69, Hong Kong (James Stewart, Wong Woon Man) 66-74-68-72

283 - Slovenia(Janez Grilc, Andrej Kraljic) 68-76-66-73

290 ? Ghana (Emos Korblah, Victor Brave Mensah) 70-77-70-73

298 ? Uganda (Deo Akope, Godfrey Mande) 71-80-71-76

303 ? Russia (Igor Korchak, Victor Ostankov) 68-82-74-79

303 ? Mauritius (Billy Narraina, Vishnoo Seeneevassen) 69-79-69-86

Note: Fourballs used in first and third rounds, foursomes in second and final rounds.

About Fortis

Fortis is an international financial services provider active in insurance and banking with a market capitalisation of EUR 43.2 billion as at 30 April 2007. Fortis has offices in 50 countries and has a dedicated workforce of 60,000. As of March 1, 2007, Fortis has ratings of AA- by Fitch, A+ by Standard & Poor?s and Aa3 by Moody?s.

Fortis has been in Asia for over 105 years. It has successfully combined its banking and insurance expertise in key growth markets in Asia. Its regional headquarters are based in Hong Kong; other offices include Bangkok, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei and Tokyo.

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 UBS (Naming rights sponsor to the UBS Order of Merit and Official Financial Services Provider), Sofitel (Official Hotel), Srixon (Official Ball), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner) and ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster). Sentosa, Singapore?s premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.