Local ace Lu Wei-chih cruised to a three-shot victory for his third Asian Tour title despite bogeying the last two holes at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters yesterday.
Lu reclaimed the title he won in 2005 with a closing two-over 74 at the Taiwan Golf and Country Club.
Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, the Asian Tour No. 1 in 2005, rued a cold putter as he signed off with a 73 for third place in the US$600,000 event. Asian Tour rookies Daisuke Kataoka of Japan and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, the youngest Tour member this year, finished in third and fourth place respectively.
Lu, who won his second title in the space of four weeks, said this victory was even sweeter, as he completed a wire-to-wire win on his home course.
“The feeling is always different when you win so close to home. This is a fantastic victory and I’m glad to be on top after four tough days,” said Lu, who earned US$120,000 with his winning total of 10-under 278. He was not happy with his final round performance of two birdies against four bogeys, but was delighted to overcome a resilient Thaworn.
“He is such a good player. It is never nice to have him breathe down your neck especially on the last day. I’m not happy with how I played, so I’ll have to continue working hard on my game and hopefully win more titles in the future,” the 32-year-old said.
Thaworn made a splendid charge up the leaderboard, shooting one-under through eight holes, but saw his title aspirations fade as he bogeyed the next three holes.
“I could have done better, but after the third straight bogey, I knew I had no chance of winning. My putting let me down, but I have to hand it to Lu, who played really well,” said Thaworn, winner of 12 Asian Tour titles.
Kataoka claimed his fourth top-10 finish on the Asian Tour this season with a final round 73 to finish five shots from the champion.
“I’m very proud with how I performed this week. This is my first time playing this course and I’m glad with my finish. Every player hopes to play better, but I’ll take this result,” the 23-year-old said.
Tabuena turned in 35, but struggled on the back nine, as he posted four bogeys and one birdie on the last hole to claim the best finish in his professional career.
“I finally got my confidence back. Finishing fourth in a big tournament like this is really good. I know I’ll bounce back after this,” said Tabuena, who turned professional in February.
Germany’s Martin Kaymer carded a sensational seven birdies on the back nine yesterday to take the HSBC Champions title in Shanghai by three strokes over in-form Swede Fredrik Jacobson.
The world No. 6 Kaymer finished 20-under overall in the US$7 million showpiece with his timely round of 68, capping off his remarkable day with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.
Jacobson had commanded the summit of the leaderboard since round two, but the 54th ranked player fired three bogeys as Kaymer went three strokes clear with clinical green finishes — including a blistering 30-footer on the 16th.
Kaymer, who had nine birdies in all on the day, finished Asia’s flagship tournament on 268 at the Sheshan International course in Shanghai.
“It was an OK year, now it is a good one,” the understated 26-year-old German said.
Kaymer began the year with his triumph at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, but then saw his form dip until yesterday, when his game came together in spectacular fashion to snatch the win from Jacobson.