Strange Romps to Five-Shot Victory in Philippine Open

Sun 28 May 2006

Strange Romps to Five-Shot Victory in Philippine Open

Manila, May 28: Australian Scott Strange strolled to an emphatic five-shot triumph at the Philippine Open on Sunday with a final round of two-under-par 70 for his second Asian Tour title.

Strange, last season's Myanmar Open champion, completed his dominant wire-to-wire victory with his winning aggregate of eight-under-par 280 at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club's East course.

Korean rookie Park Jun-won finished runner-up for his best outing yet since turning professional in January, thanks to the week's best of 67 and some late mistakes from Chinese Taipei's Yeh Chang-ting and Chris Rodgers of England, who shared third place on 286 with Lu Wei-lan, also from Chinese Taipei.

Rising star Juvic Pagunsan carded a 72 for tied sixth place with Australian Unho Park to finish as the best local finisher, while Cookie Lao, who played in the final group, settled for eighth after a disappointing 75.

"I feel pretty excited. It was tough out there. The weather was pretty exhausting, four days of it and to come through with this trophy and a win, I'm pretty excited about it," said Strange, who won a cheque of US$31,700 and a designer champion's belt from 3636.

Leading by one shot going into the final round, Strange laid down the gauntlet with an opening hole birdie and kept his foot on the pedal with further birdies on the sixth, 11th and 12th which opened a commanding seven-shot lead.

Bogeys on 15 and 17, the week's toughest hole, did not matter in the end as Strange produced the biggest margin of victory yet this season. "The first victory is always special but this one is just as special. To go wire to wire is even better. It feels pretty good," said Strange, who moved up to 10th place on the Asian Tour's UBS Order of Merit.

He replaced compatriot Adam Le Vesconte as the 90th champion of Asia's oldest national Open, joining illustrious Australian greats such as Peter Thomson and Norman Von Nida as winners in the Philippines.

"I got off to a good start. It sort of sent a signal to the boys who were chasing me. After I birdied 11 and 12 and walking down 14, I saw I was seven in front and I was kind of cruising along then. There are some good names on the trophy. It always feels nice to be in good company," said the 29-year-old Strange.

It was a dream finish for Park, who fired six birdies on the card, including three in a row from the 13th. Still only 19, the Korean, who turned pro in January after finishing sixth in Qualifying School, got a bit of help from Yeh, who bogeyed his final hole with a three-putt bogey and Rodgers, who incurred a one-stroke penalty when he accidentally moved his ball with his marker on the 17th green for bogey.

"I'm really happy to finish so well. The conditions were good for me although it was very hot and I hit a lot of good irons close to the pins for birdies. At the start of the day, I didn't think I would finish so low so I'm really excited as it's my best ever finish since turning professional.

"I made a lot of putts from inside 12 feet and only made one mistake for bogey on 12. I hope to build on this performance. I'm looking forward to playing at the next event in the Bangkok Airways Open in Thailand," said Park.

Yeh, the 1993 champion, was disgusted with himself after his last hole blemish. "I didn't putt well and took 31 putts. But the worse was the three putt on the last which cost me a tie for second. I didn't start too well with bogeys on the seventh and ninth holes and that set the tone for the round.

"Scott was just too good. He was striking it long and straight all day and he deserves the win. It's still okay for me to finish top-three as it's been a long time since I've done that," said Yeh, who is a two-time winner in Asia.

Rodgers birdied his opening two holes, the first with a chip-in, to throw in an early challenge but his title charge fizzled under the humid conditions. "I had a great start when I chipped in for birdie but after that, it was a bit stale for our group. We struggled a bit and couldn't get the ball into the hole. It was flat really," said Rodgers, winner of this season's Qualifying School and Pakistan Open back-to-back in January.

"I had a bit of a disaster on the 17th hole. In frustration, I threw my marker next to my ball and it bounced off the grass and moved my ball. It was rather unfortunate and an expensive one shot penalty."

Next year's Philippine Open will return to Wack Wack from January 4-7 with a record prize fund of US$500,000. It will be the Asian Tour's season-opening event in 2007.

Leading final round scores

280 - Scott Strange (AUS) 68-70-72-70

285 - Park Jun-won (KOR) 75-74-69-67

286 - Chris Rodgers (ENG) 70-69-75-72, Lu Wei-lan (TPE) 69-74-72-71, Yeh Chang-ting (TPE) 69-69-73-75

288 - Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 72-70-74-72, Unho Park (AUS) 72-71-73-72

289 - Jason Dawes (AUS) 70-75-74-70, Gary Simpson (AUS) 71-72-74-72, Hsieh Chin-sheng (TPE) 71-73-71-74, Cookie Lao (PHI) 70-74-70-75

290 - Gerald Rosales (PHI) 73-72-74-71, S.S.P. Chowrasia (IND) 74-72-71-73, Adam Porker (AUS) 73-72-71-74

291 - Adam Le Vesconte (AUS) 74-76-70-71, Jason Knutzon (USA) 73-71-76-71, Barry Hume (SCO) 69-76-74-72

292 - Alistair Presnell (AUS) 73-75-72-72, Jochen Lupprian (GER) 72-76-72-72, Gary Rusnak (USA) 73-74-73-72, Anthony Kang (USA) 72-72-74-74, Marcus Both (AUS) 73-70-74-75, Rick Gibson (CAN) 70-72-75-75, Richard Moir (AUS) 77-69-71-75, Angelo Que (PHI) 71-75-70-76

294 - Marciano Pucay (PHI) 72-75-74-73, Airil Rizman Zahari (MAS) 73-70-78-73, Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 74-72-76-72, Elmer Salvador (PHI) 78-70-71-75, Uttam Singh Mundy (IND) 75-74-69-76


The Philippine Open, Asia's oldest national Championship, is celebrating its 90th edition this week. The tournament sponsors include the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, International Container Terminal Services, ASV, Konica Minolta, Globe Telecom, Motorola, Srixon, 3636, Crowne Plaza, Sunbolt and Philcopy. The Asian Tour has a five-year agreement with the National Golf Association of the Philippines to manage and stage the Philippine Open.