Lam Is the New Master

Sun 21 Dec 2008

Lam Is the New Master


Bangkok, December 21: Singapore's Lam Chih Bing enjoyed an emphatic triumph at the US$750,000 Volvo Masters of Asia on Sunday and claimed his maiden Asian Tour victory.

The 31-year-old, who was in a five-way tie for the overnight lead, fired a flawless five-under-par 67 to win by two strokes from Thailand's Chapchai Nirat, who signed off with a 69 in the season finale.

Australian Terry Pilkadaris finished a further stroke back after charging into contention at Thai Country Club with a bogey-free 66. Chinese Taipei's Lin Wen-tang came in tied sixth to virtually assure himself a place in the world's top-50 and also a spot in the US Masters next year.

Lam, who posted a winning 14-under-par 274 total, was over the moon after he broke away from the chasing pack with a burst of three birdies over his closing four holes. Walking off the 18th green, his family and compatriot Mardan Mamat were on hand to celebrate his moment of triumph.

"Unbelievable. I have won a bunch of small ones before but this is just unbelievable. It was such a jam-packed leaderboard and I'm just so glad I went out and finished the job," said Lam, who picked up a cheque for US$135,000 to finish 16th on the final Asian Tour's Order of Merit.

"To win on the Asian Tour has been a dream of mine. I always thought I could win one and to do it is unbelievable."

Showing the form that saw him challenge for the Barclays Singapore Open and finish second at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open last week, Lam seized the advantage with a tidy front nine 34.

Pilkadaris made a move with his own run of four birdies on the inward nine but Lam pulled out some wonderful iron approach shots to birdie the 15th, 16th and 18th holes to seal his career breakthrough.

"At the first tee, I knew I needed to shoot a solid round. I knew some guys would play well and I'm glad I'm the one who went out and shot the score. I got a roll on the 15th hole which started it all. I knew I needed to make some birdies coming in. To be able to pull them off at that juncture was very satisfying," said Lam.

"There are so many people to thank, my parents, my wife Sophie, my little baby Tian Lei and all my sponsors. It's great that my family is out here with me for this win.

"Last week, I felt really good and texted my coach (Andrew Welsford) and told him that I felt I was ready to win. It just felt like it was my week," added Lam, who also credited caddie John Roberts for his victory.

Big-hitting Chapchai, who was looking to extend the Thai stranglehold at the Volvo Masters of Asia following wins by Thongchai Jaidee and Prayad Marksaeng, enjoyed the worst possible start with a double bogey and bogey in the first three holes.

But he fought back gallantly with a superb inward 31 to settle for second place. He revealed that a shoulder injury sustained on Saturday had affected his performance. "I was injured yesterday after the 14th hole - it affected my right shoulder," said Chapchai.
"I went to the physiotherapist before the round today but it was still painful during the front nine. I felt I had to give it a go on the back nine. I pushed again - my shoulder was still painful - and finished quite well. Lam played well and is a good winner. He has played very well in the second half of the year and was due a win," added the Thai.

Pilkadaris, runner-up of the Volvo Masters of Asia in 2004, tipped his hat to Lam. "He played great and deserved to win," said the Aussie, who chipped in for par at the last hole to seal third place.

"My approach today was just to get as many birdies as I could. I played well in the front nine but missed a couple of 10 footers for birdie on holes two and seven. I missed a 10-footer on 10 - steam was pouring out my ears at that stage. I thought I had given myself chances but had not taken them."

India's Jeev Milkha Singh wrapped up his stunning season with a tied 37th finish at the Volvo Masters of Asia and was officially crowned the Asian Tour's Order of Merit champion with total winnings of US$1.45 million.

Prayad, last year's winner, finished tied 12th to leave his world top-50 and US Masters hopes hanging by a thread as Rory McIlroy can pip him with a top-29 finish at the South African Open final round today.

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), Sofitel (Official Hotel), TIME and FORTUNE (Corporate Partner) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore's premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.