Thaworn Claims Record Ninth Title in Midea China Classic

Sun 16 Sep 2007

Thaworn Claims Record Ninth Title in Midea China Classic

Guangzhou, September 16: Thai star Thaworn Wiratchant triumphed in a nerve-jangling three-way play-off at the inaugural Midea China Classic on Sunday to claim a record ninth Asian Tour title.

Thaworn edged teenage compatriot Chinarat Phadungsil with a birdie in the fourth hole of a sudden-death shootout at the Royal Orchid International Golf Club. Scotsman Simon Yates was the first to bow out of the play-off in the first extra hole after the leading trio completed the event on 21-under-par 263.

The victory is Thaworn?s first success since November of 2005, the season where he claimed an unprecedented four titles en route to the prestigious Asian Tour?s UBS Order of Merit crown. He also surpassed compatriot Thongchai Jaidee as the player with the most number of victories on the Asian Tour.

Australian Scott Barr finished fourth, three shots back while Filipino Mars Pucay and Korea?s Hur In-hoi settled for a share of fifth place on 268.

?Winning my ninth title on the Asian Tour is a great feeling. The quality of the players on the Asian Tour now is so much higher than before and I?m glad to come out on top today.

?I had a chance to be the co-leader on the 16th and 17th holes but when Simon struck a wayward shot on the 18th hole which I had then birdied, I knew I was in for a chance of a win this week. I didn?t expect to win coming into the final round so I?m really happy,? said Thaworn, who shot a 67 to enter the three-way play-off. He earned US$63,400 to move up to 10th position on the UBS Order of Merit. He also earned a place in the HSBC Champions in Shanghai later in November.

Yates, the joint overnight leader with 18-year-old Chinarat, led by one shot going into the par five last hole but could only make par to slip into extra-time. Chinarat produced a magnificent approach to set up a two-foot birdie at the last while Thaworn matched his young compatriot by rolling in a pressure 15-foot putt.

In the first play-off hole played over the 18th, Yates was first to bow out, dropping a bogey after sending his drive into the watery grave as he settled for a frustrating 13th runner-up finish on the Asian Tour.

Both Thais then had birdie opportunities to clinch a win in the subsequent two extra holes before Thaworn ended the contest on the fourth extra hole played over the par five ninth hole.

From the rough, the 40-year-old sent a trademark approach to within two feet for birdie and Chinarat, already a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, missed out on his third title after he failed to convert his 18 feet chance.

?My target was to win this week but overall, I am satisfied. The play-off was quite intense though.

?At the third play-off hole, I laid up on my second shot thinking that Thaworn?s ball had entered the water, but instead, it landed at the edge of the water hazard. Thinking that it entered the water, I switched from a five wood to a nine iron for the lay up. I was quite disappointed to make that switch. I will go back and reflect on this as I missed many easy putts today too,? said Chinarat, who produced a blemish free 69 on the final day before heading into the play-off.

With four birdies against two dropped shots in the final round, Yates, with two Asian Tour titles under his belt, was pleased with his overall performance despite bowing out in the first play-off hole.

?All credit to Thaworn who was steady on the greens throughout the round today. I am quite annoyed with myself though. On the 18th hole in regulation play, I had tried to cut my second shot but it went way left and I parred that par five hole. Then, at the first play-off hole, my ball found the water. But overall I?m satisfied with my performance,? said Yates.

The last two rounds of the Midea China Classic were aired live on ESPN StarSports. Terrestrial coverage in Indonesia and Thailand fetches an estimated 30 million in number of audience, with the Asian Tour Weekly Magazine show to be televised across the region through ESPN StarSports.

Leading final round scores

263 - Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 65-63-68-67, Simon Yates (SCO) 68-64-62-69, Chinarat Phadungsil (THA) 68-62-64-69

266 - Scott Barr (AUS) 68-66-66-66

268 - Hur In-hoi (KOR) 68-64-69-67, Mars Pucay (PHI) 66-67-66-69

269 - Michael Wright (AUS) 67-66-69-67, Edward Michaels (USA) 65-64-71-69

270 - Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 68-67-66-69, Brad Iles (NZL) 66-71-63-70

271 - Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 71-67-67-66, Jin Park (USA) 66-67-69-69

272 - Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 67-70-65-70

273 - Atthaphon Prathummanee (THA) 67-69-68-69, Jerome Delariarte (PHI) 69-69-64-71, S.S.P. Chowrasia (IND) 65-67-68-73

274 - Stephen Scahill (NZL) 68-70-68-68, Zhang Lian-wei (CHN) 70-67-69-68, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 72-68-65-69, Choengchai Panpumpo (THA) 66-66-70-72