Prayad Secures Emotional Triumph in Volvo Masters of Asia

Sun 09 Dec 2007

Prayad Secures Emotional Triumph in Volvo Masters of Asia

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Bangkok, December 9: Local hero Prayad Marksaeng secured an emotional triumph at the season-ending Volvo Masters of Asia on Sunday and later dedicated his victory to the King of Thailand.


The 41-year-old Prayad birdied the 18th hole at Thai Country Club in a roller-coaster three-under-par 69 and won the US$750,000 Asian Tour finale by one shot from overnight leader Juvic Pagunsan and England?s Chris Rodgers, who both bogeyed the closing hole for a 75 and 68 respectively.


China?s Liang Wen-chong was crowned the UBS Order of Merit champion after nearest rival Chapchai Nirat of Thailand failed to secure the win that was needed to lift Asia?s number one mantle. Liang, who won once and posted eight other top-10s, completed his magical season with a haul of US$532,590 with Chapchai finishing in second place.

 

After securing his sixth triumph in the region, a tearful Prayad dedicated the victory to the King and also to Supphaphorn Maphungphong, the ?grandee of Thai golf who passed away two weeks ago.


?I would like to dedicate this win to the King (who celebrated his 80th birthday this week) and Khun Supphaphorn, who was my coach,? said Prayad, who was amazingly the only player to birdie the 18th hole during the final round.


?This is certainly the biggest win of my career.?


Prayad, who totalled 13-under-par 275 and earned a cheque of US$135,000, produced several Houdini-like escapes on the back nine. With Pagusan, who led by four shots overnight, slipping up with an outward 40, the Thai got out of some sticky situations to stay in contention.


He drove it into the water on the 10th but saved par from six feet and then needed to save par again on the par five 17th hole, holing a similar length putt, after sending his second shot into a watery grave.


A superb six iron to six feet set up Prayad for birdie on the last hole, which proved decisive as Pagunsan bogeyed the 18th after finding the greenside trap and Rodgers also dropped a shot after failing to save par from 12 feet.


?I knew if I made par on 17, I could have a chance for birdie on 18. I was confident of par even though I hit the water with my second shot. On the last, I was just looking to put my approach shot on the green and give myself a chance. I knew I could make birdie if I was on the green and I?m glad I did,? said Prayad.


A disappointed Pagunsan, searching for his second win of the year, showed signs of nerves as he struggled on the outward nine with four bogeys but fought back with birdies on 10 and 12. Walking up the 18th, he was tied with Prayad but sent his eight iron approach into the bunker and splashed his third shot 12 feet beyond the flag.

?I bogeyed the last hole again and it was costly (he bogeyed the 18th three times during the week). My approach did not connect properly and it went into the bunker.  It was disappointing to lose like that,? said Pagunsan.?I played very badly on the front nine. I missed a couple of drives and several putts lipped out. At that stage I thought this tournament was not going to be mine, it is for Prayad. I am happy for him. That is golf. I did not hit enough good shots today,? he said.


Rodgers produced his best finish of the year but rued a missed opportunity. The Englishman charged into the title hunt with five birdies through 16 holes before carding a bogey on the last when an errant drive found the fairway bunker.


?I don?t know what to say. I gave it everything. I?m happy to finish high but for the last two holes, I somehow lost my focus a little bit. I guess getting into contention does that to you sometimes,? said Rodgers.


?All day long, I thought it was going to be my day. I somehow felt that it would be good for me. But on 18 I hooked my drive and found the bunker. I hit a good second shot to give myself half a chance for par. I thought my chip shot would be a bit faster than it was but it came up 12 feet short. I just misread the putt. It was very makeable.?


Liang was delighted to be finally crowned as Asia?s new number one. He finished tied 28th in the Volvo Masters of Asia after signing off with a 72 for a 289 total.


?This achievement is the best of my career. With this feat I have gone to the next stage, a different platform. Also, it is a brand new beginning and I have achieved the first goal,? said Liang.

?I am honoured to be the first Chinese to win the UBS Order of Merit. I do not know what it will do for China golf.  Hopefully the publicity about my win will create more interest in golf (on the mainland,? he said.


Leading final scores

275 - Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 67-71-68-69

276 - Chris Rodgers (ENG) 70-68-70-68, Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 70-65-66-75

278 - Mark Brown (NZL) 70-66-70-72, Simon Yates (SCO) 69-69-67-73

279 - Gerald Rosales (PHI) 70-68-71-70

280 - Taichiro Kiyota (JPN) 72-68-70-70

281 - Adam Blyth (AUS) 72-69-70-70, Prom Meesawat (THA) 70-67-73-71, Scott Hend (AUS) 68-67-74-72

282 - Gavin Flint (AUS) 70-68-73-71

283 - Lin Wen-Tang (TPE) 72-70-72-69, Simon Griffiths (ENG) 68-71-75-69, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 70-74-70-69, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 71-69-71-72, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 71-70-69-73

284 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 70-69-77-68, David Gleeson (AUS) 72-74-65-73

Selected:

289: Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 72-71-74-72