Terrific Thongchai

Thu 30 Apr 2009

Terrific Thongchai

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Jeju Island, Korea, April 26: Thailand?s Thongchai Jaidee showed why he is one of Asia's best when he lifted his 12th Asian Tour title at the ?2.1 million Ballantine?s Championship on Sunday.
Thongchai defeated Korea?s Kang Sung-hoon and Spain?s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano in a three-way play-off after the trio tied on four-under-par 284 at the Pinx Golf Club.

Fernandez-Castano, who posted a final round of three-under-par 69 after being five shots off the lead coming into the final round, was the first off the tee.The Spaniard went through the back of the green into the rough with his second shot and had to chip in to within two feet with his third shot.
Kang, who had the home crowd cheering him on, was within six feet of the pin after two strokes but missed his birdie chance, leaving Thongchai with the chance to wrap up the title after the Thai ace had earlier driven an accurate approach shot which left the ball to within three-feet of the pin.
Thongchai made no mistakes with his birdie chance and savoured the winning feeling all over again since his last victory at the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open in March.
?When we got to the play-off, I knew that I would stand a good chance as I had just finished playing that hole about 15 minutes ago. I knew the distance well and I was ready,? said Thongchai who posted a 70 in regulation play.
While he had to battle testing conditions all week, Thongchai knew he needed to maintain his composure and hold his nerves despite going into the final round four shots off the lead.
?The tournament is never finished and you never know who is going to win the tournament until the last day. I know that I can play well in all weather conditions, whether it?s in the cold, rain or wind and I just had to believe in myself that I can do it,? added Thongchai who picked up the winner?s cheque of approximately US$457,249 to lead the Asian Tour Order of Merit on US$707,857.39 now.
Fernandez-Castano again had to suffer the anguish of missing out on another play-off victory in the last three weeks.
?This is my third play-off in the last three weeks and it really hurts. It's difficult, especially when you are playing against two other players in the play-off. But, I guess that's golf,? said Fernandez-Castano.
Meanwhile, Singapore?s Mardan Mamat was the next best Asian Tour player, finishing in tied-eight among the elite field that included world number six, Henrik Stenson of Sweden and former Masters champion, Fred Couples who both finished in tied-52nd on 298.
Mardan seeking his third win on the Asian Tour since the 2006 Singapore Masters, reeled in three birdies in his opening four holes to signal his strong intent for the title.
He dropped a shot on the fifth but recovered with another birdie on the 10th straight after the turn. The 41-year-old Singaporean then bogeyed the 12th followed by a birdie on 14th.
All hopes of catching up with the leaders were dashed after a wrong choice of club resulted in a costly double bogey on 17th and saw the 41-year-old Singaporean drop to one-under and finish on 71 for a four-day total of 287.
?I picked the wrong club at the tee box and that shot landed over the green. I managed to chip it back on and three-putted that hole,? said Mardan.
?It?s okay. It was very tough out there again and because of the difficult conditions, I?m pleased with how I?ve played this week. Things happen for a reason and I?ll look forward to my next event in Korea again (GS Caltex Maekyung Open),? added Mardan.
The Ballantine?s Championship is the first Asian Tour event in Korea this season and is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Korean PGA.
Leading fourth round scores
284 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 66-71-77-70, Kang Sung-hoon (KOR) 69-71-76-68
Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (ESP) 65-74-76-69
(Thongchai defeated Kang and Fdez-Castano in the first play-off hole)
286 - Seve Benson (ENG) 69-70-78-69,Rafael Cabrera B (ESP) 68-72-76-70,Ernie Els (RSA) 68-74-73-71,Robert-Jan Derksen (NED) 66-69-75-76, 287 - Peter Lawrie (IRL) 70-75-76-66,Danny Willett (ENG) 69-76-73-69,Mardan Mamat (SIN) 69-70-77-71
288 - Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 75-68-74-71,Choi Ho-sung (KOR) 69-72-76-71,Jason Knutzon (USA) 67-74-75-72,Pablo Martin (ESP) 69-69-74-76
289 - Brett Rumford (AUS) 68-73-76-72,Scott Barr (AUS) 68-72-76-73,Kang Wook-soon (KOR) 68-69-77-75, Kang Kyung-nam (KOR) 66-73-75-75
290 - Richard Bland (ENG) 73-72-78-67, Graeme Storm (ENG) 72-68-78-72, Mark Brown (NZL) 65-73-78-74, Choi Gwang-soo (KOR) 71-70-74-75, Mikko Ilonen (FIN) 68-73-74-75
Selected scores
298 - Henrik Stenson (SWE) 68-74-81-75, Fred Couples (USA) 69-76-81-72
Ends.
For further information, please contact Asian Tour?s Calvin Koh at the tournament media centre: + +82 6 4792 1162. Also visit www.asiantour.com for live scoring this week.
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) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore?s premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.
About Ballantine?s
Ballantine?s is the No.1 Scotch whisky range in the Asia Pacific region (17 years old and above ? IWSR 2007). Now the world?s No.2 Scotch whisky, Ballantine?s has won over 60 trophies and medals at international competitions in the past 10 years for quality as a result of its unique richness of character and perfect balance. The range, from Ballantine?s Finest to the iconic 30 Year Old, is the most extensive in the world of Scotch and is maintained by the latest in a tradition of master blenders that dates back to 1827.
Ballantine?s is the title sponsor of the Ballantine?s Championship, an official sponsor of the Barclay?s Scottish Open held every July at the exclusive Loch Lomond Golf Club, and was also a sponsor of the UBS Hong Kong Open in 2008.