Kulacz Holes Stunning Birdie to Win Brunei Open

Sun 24 Aug 2008

Kulacz Holes Stunning Birdie to Win Brunei Open

Bandar Seri Begawan, August 24: Australian rookie Rick Kulacz holed a stunning bunker shot for birdie to defeat Chinese Taipei's Lu Wen-teh in a play-off and win the Brunei Open on Sunday.

Kulacz, the 2001 world junior champion, produced one of the shots of the season to capture his maiden Asian Tour title at Empire Hotel and Country Club after tying Lu on 13-under-par 271.

The 23-year-old, who held the overnight lead, overcame an early double bogey on his first hole en route to a one-under-par 70 in the final round but was caught by Lu, who closed out with a 67.

Thailand's Somkiat Srisanga and American Anthony Kang, who both held the lead during an enthralling back nine duel, shared third place after a 68 and 67 respectively to finish one behind the winner.

In the first hole of a sudden-death shootout, Kulacz and Lu found the greenside bunker at the par four 18th hole and after Lu had splashed out to five feet, the Perth-based Kulacz produced the unlikeliest of winning shots.

"My uncle Terry died earlier this year and he's always told me to believe in myself. I want to dedicate this to him and I felt that he was with me during the play-off," said Kulacz, who earned US$47,550.

"It feels pretty good. I couldn't get too far ahead of myself. I was saying in the morning that if nothing goes well early in the day, you can't give up. I just hung in there and started to feel more confident coming down the stretch which was surprising."

Kulacz missed a 15-foot birdie attempt on the 18th hole in regulation play to seal a victory but made up for it with the bunker shot, which landed a few feet from the pin before trickling into the hole.

"I've been hitting into bunkers all week and I finally found one that was sitting up perfectly. It was the easiest shot. I just had to splash it out and hope for the best. I've never been that excited.

"This win takes the pressure off as I can pick and choose my events. It's a huge weight off my career as I was well down the Order of Merit," said Kulacz, who will earn a two-year exemption on the Asian Tour and a start at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai in November.
The 45-year-old Lu, chasing his fifth Asian Tour victory, produced a great with his six-birdie round but couldn't do much at the end.
"I hit a good bunker shot in the play-off but didn't have the luck. Rick had the luck with him," said Lu.

"I felt I had a chance to win on the back nine after I made birdies on the 15th and 17th holes and I was playing well coming in. The winds were quite swirly today and my approach in the play-off just carried into the bunker."

Somkiat was pleased to record his best finish in an Asian Tour event and hopes to build on his Brunei Open performance in his quest for a maiden title. He briefly tied for the lead with a birdie on 15 but couldn't find any more birdies in his remaining holes to tie the two leaders.

"I'm very happy. I had to save pars on 16 and 17. The winds kept changing and I couldn't get my clubbing right. I didn't know I was tied for the lead but I just kept to my routine. I wanted to win badly but it wasn't to be. I played good this week and hopefully I can have another chance to win," said the Thai.

Kang was hoping to end a seven-year winless spell and set the early pace with an outward 32. He birdied the 10th as well but lipped out the 12th and 13th holes and missed a birdie on 18 from 20 feet which would have earned him a place in the play-off.

"With the way the scores were going, I didn't think I was that close to the lead when I was 12-under-par. I found out on the 14th hole that I was tied for the lead and tried to play solid coming down the stretch but it wasn't to be.
"I was disappointed that I didn't birdie the par five 15th hole as everyone birdied that. I had 237 yards to the flag and hit it fat," said Kang.
Inaugural Brunei Open champion Terry Pilkadaris of Australia, compatriot Andrew Dodt and Thai star Thaworn Wiratchant shared fifth place on 273.
Leading final scores

271 - Rick Kulacz (AUS) 68-66-67-70, Lu Wen-Teh (TPE) 70-65-69-67
(Kulacz wins in the first hole of sudden-death play-off)
272 - Anthony Kang (USA) 68-68-69-67, Somkiat Srisanga (THA) 64-70-70-68
273 - Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 65-67-74-67, Andrew Dodt (AUS) 66-72-66-69, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 67-69-66-71
274 - Iain Steel (MAS) 69-70-67-68
275 - Jason King (AUS) 69-69-72-65, Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) 70-69-69-67, Simon Dunn (SCO) 70-69-69-67, David Gleeson (AUS) 69-70-67-69, Scott Hend (AUS) 69-65-71-70, Mitchell Brown (AUS) 69-70-66-70, Ted Oh (KOR) 65-66-71-73
276 - Marcus Both (AUS) 68-68-71-69, Atthaphon Prathummanee (THA) 69-69-69-69, Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 69-68-69-70, Adam Blyth (AUS) 67-74-65-70, Darren Beck (AUS) 69-70-67-70, Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 72-69-65-70, Chang Tse-peng (TPE) 69-67-69-71
About the Brunei Open 2008

The Brunei Open is celebrating its fourth edition following its historic launch in 2005. The Championship is organized by Brunei Tourism under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and the Ministry of Youth and Sports and will once again be staged at the award-winning The Empire Hotel and Country Club, Asia's Ultimate Golf, Spa & Family Beach Resort which is a signature Jack Nicklaus course. The Brunei Open 2008 sponsors are Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd (Title Sponsor); Profitable Group (Presenting Sponsor), The Empire Hotel and Country Club (Host Venue and Official Hotel), Srixon (Official Ball), Cross Creek (Official Apparel), and CityNeon (Official Contractor).  The Brunei Open is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, which is the governing body for professional tournament golf in Asia and locally by the Brunei Darussalam Golf Association.

About Brunei Tourism

Brunei Darussalam, a peaceful and wealthy kingdom on the northern shores of Borneo, is known for having one of the most pristine tropical rainforest environments anywhere, as well as for the pomp and opulence of its centuries old monarchy, steeped in ancient Malay traditions. With easy international direct access through its Royal Brunei Airlines carrier and other regional airlines, and with an up-market product and image appealing to discerning travelers, Brunei is an exciting and safe new destination waiting to be discovered. For more information on Brunei please visit www.bruneitourism.travel

About Brunei Shell Petroleum

Brunei Shell Petroleum Co Sdn Bhd (BSP), a dynamic, world-class company and one of the biggest energy companies in Asia, have a long standing history in Brunei of more than 75 years and are at the leading edge of energy technology putting the safety and environment at the heart of everything and invests in the people and community of Brunei.

About Profitable Group

The Profitable Group encompasses a range of activities from the highly commercial to the philanthropic and encompasses such diverse sectors as real estate, software and IT based application, security, food produce and the arts world. The Profitable Group exists to increase the wealth of its clients, its employees and its owners, through the provision of strategically selected products that offer exceptional returns along with risk that has been professionally assessed and minimized.

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, ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Sofitel (Official Hotel) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore's premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.

For further information, please contact the Asian Tour's Chuah Choo Chiang at the Brunei Open media centre at tel: +673 241 7695. Also visit www.asiantour.com