Taiwan’s Lin Wen-tang (林文堂) scrambled from the trees on his last two holes to set up an unlikely win at the Solaire Open and claim his sixth Asian Tour title yesterday.
The overnight leader came up with two remarkable shots on the 17th and 18th to pip Thai veteran Thammanoon Sriroj, who had snatched the lead earlier in the day, and Asian Tour rookie Richard Lee of Canada by one stroke.
Thammanoon’s title hopes were dented by bogeys on the 16th and 18th in a final round of one-over 73, while Lee signed off with a strong 69 for his best Asian Tour finish.
Trailing Thammanoon going into the 17th, Lin hit his tee shot into the woods, but he managed to punch the ball out and then sink his second birdie of the day.
Lin’s second shot on the 18th also found the trees, but he somehow worked the ball onto the green from there and holed a 15-foot par putt for the win.
The manner of victory revived memories of Lin’s 2008 Hong Kong Open victory, when he had to hit over the trees to stay alive in a playoff with Rory McIlroy.
“I felt like I was at the Hong Kong Open once again,” Lin said after winning the inaugural US$300,000 Asian Tour event with an overall three-under 285 at Manila’s Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.
“I think lady luck was really on my side to let me win this tournament. I told myself to stay focused and not think about anything else,” said the 39-year-old, who lost his Asian Tour card last season.
Five-time Asian Tour winner Thammanoon got an unlucky break on the final hole when he needed to hit his third shot onto the green from an awkward position.
“I was very unlucky because I hit quite a good second shot, but it landed on the edge of the slightly elevated green,” the Thai said.
“My legs were inside the bunker, but my ball was on the edge of the green. It wasn’t easy to chip it out,” the 43-year-old said.
South Korea’s Wang Jeung-hun (69) finished a stroke further back, while Elmer Salvador (74) was the best-placed Filipino in fifth at level-par 288.
Hsu Mong-nan (許孟男) finished the best-placed of the other Taiwanese players, tied for 10th after a 73 gave him a two-over 290 total, while Chan Yih-shin (詹益信) was a shot further back after a 71.
Chiang Chen-chih finished tied for 51st on 299, while Chan Shih-chang (詹世昌) was a shot further back tied for 56th.
Additional reporting by staff writer