Liang Lifts Maiden Title at Clariden Leu Singapore Masters

Sun 11 Mar 2007

Liang Lifts Maiden Title at Clariden Leu Singapore Masters

Singapore, March 11: China?s top golfer Liang Wen-chong lifted his maiden title in Asia when he defeated Malaysia?s Iain Steel in a sudden-death play-off at the Clariden Leu Singapore Masters on Sunday.

The 28-year-old Liang kept his cool and made a solid par putt on the play off 18th hole on a day when Steel lost grip as his wayward drive found the water at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club.

It was a timely win for Liang who had come close to winning this season at the Philippine Open before his triumph this week where he we walked away with the top prize of US$183,330.

Liang and Steel ended the tournament on 11-under-par 277 after respective closing rounds of 73 and 71, one shot clear of third placed Simon Dyson of England who finished with a 71 for a 278 total in the US$1.1 million event, jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

?I am very happy. I have come close many times before and now, I have finally won. This is a great result and a fantastic first half of the season for me,? said Liang, who was only the second Chinese to win a co-sanctioned event after Zhang Lian-wei?s success in 2003.

As a result of his triumph, Liang leaps to second place on the Asian Tour?s UBS Order of Merit with total earnings of US$273,747.

?I hope to donate all my winnings this week to a golf foundation in China. I haven?t decided where yet but I will donate all my prize winnings to the development of golf in China. I hope more of the young ones will pick up the sport,? said the champion.

On the par four 18th play off hole, Liang drove it on target and reached the green on two following a solid wedge shot. He missed a 12 foot birdie opportunity but sealed his win with a two feet par putt. After hitting the edge of the green in four, Steel?s bogey attempt came up short before Liang sealed the title.

?I wanted to hit first of the tee to feel more relaxed. And when Iain hit it in the water, I knew I had a chance,? said Liang.

?I don?t want to think of any excuses. I just didn?t execute my shot well off the tee. I pictured it going out to the right and drawing back in to the fairway but I just came over the top and pulled it in the water,? said Steel.

But they do little to tell the tale of an extraordinary final afternoon where bogeys and double bogeys were the order of the day amongst the leaders instead of the usual birdies and eagles.

Liang and Steel were not immune to the chaos, Liang racking up a double bogey seven at the 15th before recovering with a birdie three at the 16th hole while Steel saw his chance of a regulation holes victory disappear with his own double bogey six at the 16th.

Turning for home, India?s Jyoti Randhawa also harboured hopes of his first European Tour success before a double bogey five at the 17th which saw him drop four shots in seven holes, while Ireland?s Peter Lawrie?s outside hopes of a maiden title also disappeared with his own double bogey at the 16th. Randhawa finished joint eighth place after a 75 alongside Lawrie who carded a 74. England's Nick Dougherty was in the leading fray but back-to-back double bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes proved costly as he finished with a 71 in joint fourth spot for a 279 total.

Leading final round scores

277 - Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 64-72-68-73, Iain Steel (MAS) 70-65-71-71, 278 - Simon Dyson (ENG) 71-69-67-71

279 - Anthony Wall (ENG) 68-72-72-67, Jean Van De Velde (FRA) 68-71-71-69, David Lynn (ENG) 72-68-70-69, Nick Dougherty (ENG) 70-72-66-71

280 - Craig Smith (WAL) 72-70-71-67, Scott Barr (AUS) 70-69-71-70, Lin Keng-chi (TPE) 73-68-69-70, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 69-72-67-72, Peter Lawrie (IRL) 66-70-70-74, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 65-68-72-75

281 - Peter Senior (AUS) 70-70-73-68, Scott Strange (AUS) 69-73-70-69, Chinarat Phadungsil (THA) 69-71-71-70, Francesco Molinari (ITA) 69-70-70-72, Peter O'Malley (AUS) 71-70-69-71, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 69-69-69-74

282 - Oliver Wilson (ENG) 69-72-70-71, Joakim Backstrom (SWE) 73-69-69-71, Martin Kaymer (GER) 66-73-71-72, Robert Rock (ENG) 71-70-68-73

283 - Robert-Jan Derksen (NLD) 73-69-72-69, Marcus Both (AUS) 72-69-72-70, Matthew Zions (AUS) 68-71-73-71, Hendrik Buhrmann (RSA) 71-69-71-72, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 68-73-70-72, Andrew Coltart (SCO) 69-69-72-73