Tetsuji Is King of the Mountain

Sun 19 Dec 2010

Tetsuji Is King of the Mountain

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Hua Hin, Thailand, December 19: Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka claimed a third title of the season when he won the US$600,000 Black Mountain Masters after a play-off against Thai youngster Namchoak Tantipokakul on Sunday.
Hiratsuka triumphed in the Asian Tour’s season-finale at the Black Mountain Golf Club with a par at the first play-off hole on the par five 18th to pip Namchoak, who agonizingly bogeyed in extra time.
The Japanese veteran, who also triumphed in the Air Bagan Myanmar Open and Queen’s Cup in Thailand earlier this season, signed off with a one-under-par 71 and was caught by a fast-charging Namchoak, who closed with a 65 for a 14-under-par 274 total in a thrilling end to the season.
“It’s amazing, very unbelievable to win (for a third time). I was a bit nervous but other players were not shooting low scores. After I missed a putt (to win in regulation), I knew I still had a chance in the play-off. It was not a problem for me,” said the 39-year-old Hiratsuka, whose cheque of US$95,100 saw him end the season in fifth place on the final Order of Merit.
“I was trying for pars and if I had a chance, I would go for a birdie. But there were no easy putts out there, even when the putts were short. I tried hard every day. I love the Asian Tour and now I want to concentrate on improving my world ranking and break into the top-50,” added Hiratsuka, who was ranked 82nd entering the Black Mountain Masters.
Namchoak didn’t quite live up to his nickname of “Lucky” despite a stunning final round which included seven birdies against no bogeys. But the 23-year-old found consolation that his cheque of US$65,100 helped him earn his Asian Tour card for next season.
“It was disappointing not to win. I was feeling slightly nervous and couldn’t control my shots as much as I wanted to because of the strong wind. Tetsuji is a very strong player but overall, I had a great week,” said the Thai, who finished 35th on the merit list.
“Securing my Asian Tour card for next season is a great Christmas and New Year present for me.”
Overnight leader Piya Swangarunporn was dealt a double blow when he missed out on the play-off by one shot after closing with a 73 and then realized he also missed his Tour card by a mere US$205.
“I was feeling very nervous on the first five holes. It isn’t really disappointing for me because I played very well for the week,” said Piya, who ended up in 62nd position on the rankings, one rung outside the required mark to earn his 2011 card.
“This is my best finish on the Asian Tour and it will give me more confidence in my career to do better. I gained a lot of experience playing in the last flight. Maybe next time, I won’t be so nervous.”
It was also heartbreak for Lee Sung of Korea who bogeyed his last hole to finish one shot shy of the play-off duo in his round of 70 while Thai star Thongchai Jaidee, who was in the thick of battle, fell off the pace with a double bogey, bogey, bogey run from the 11th hole to eventually finish seventh, two shots back.
Australia’s Scott Hend, who carded a 65, and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, who closed with a 66, also shared third place on 275 in what was truly an exciting finale to the 2010 Asian Tour season.
Qualifying School graduate Ben Fox of the United States, who missed the cut in Black Mountain, finished 61st on the merit list to be the last player to earn his card for next year.
Other sponsors of the Black Mountain Masters include Tourism Authority of Thailand (Presenting Sponsor), Turkish Airlines (Official Airline) Panasonic (Official A/V), Omega (Official Timekeeper), Hyatt Regency Hua Hin (Official Hotel) where the players and sponsors will be staying and DHL (Official Logistics Provider).
The tournament is also supported by Singha, Canon, Srixon, Inetol, Fenix, Makers Mark and Wolfblass.
Leading final round scores
274 - Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN) 65-71-67-71, Namchoak Tantipokakul (THA) 68-64-77-65
(Hiratsuka wins title with par on first play-off hole)
275 - Piya Swangarunporn (THA) 69-65-68-73, Lee Sung (KOR) 66-64-75-70, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 69-66-74-66, Scott Hend (AUS) 70-68-72-65
276 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 68-69-68-71
277 - Marcus Both (AUS) 70-68-69-70, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 67-72-70-68, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 70-66-74-67, Alexander Noren (SWE) 72-69-69-67
278 - Zaw Moe (MYN) 69-72-67-70, Rory Hie (INA) 70-71-69-68
279 - Daisuke Maruyama (JPN) 65-71-73-70, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 66-72-71-70, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 70-68-71-70, Anthony Kang (USA) 66-73-70-70, Matthew Rosenfeld (USA) 67-69-74-69
For further information, please contact Asian Tour’s Chuah Choo Chiang and Doyle De Costa at tel: +663 2618629. Also visit www.asiantour.com for live scoring.
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 J.Lindeberg (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Royal Selangor (Official Trophy Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Pan Pacific (Official Hotel), BlackBerry (Official Mobile) and Srixon (Official Ball). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.