Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant clinched a record 16th Asian Tour title following overnight leader Chan Kim’s final-round meltdown at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Linkou yesterday.
The 46-year-old Thai struggled with his irons, but still signed off with a four-under 68 for a winning total of 13-under 275 at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club.
Kim, who won the Asian Tour’s qualifying school in January, looked set for victory, but made three straight bogeys from the 15th hole for a two-under 70 to finish one shot behind the Thai stalwart.
“I’m very proud because I can still win at the age of 46,” Thaworn said.
“I was really struggling with my irons, but I chipped and putted so well. I honestly didn’t think that I could win,” last season’s Order of Merit winner said.
While Kim’s title hopes fizzled out on the back nine, Thaworn, who won the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2010, played solid golf, dropping his only shot of the day on the second hole.
“Kim is such a powerful golfer and he had a lot of advantage on the par-fives. I had to stay patient,” the Thai golfer said.
“I didn’t think I could have won and I would have been satisfied with second place, but he started to drop shots, and all of a sudden I was in the lead and I won,” he added.
For the 23-year-old Kim, who started with an eagle on the first and gained three more shots before his late collapse, it was a learning experience.
“I got a little greedy. I tried to get my ball out further so I could get a shorter club into the green,” Kim said. “I think that’s something which I have to learn because all I had to do today was actually play a bit smarter. I will use this experience in my future tournaments.”
Angelo Que of the Philippines, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, shot a 66 to grab third spot on 279, while Taiwan’s Chan Shih-chang (67) finished fourth, a shot further back.
Taiwanese players Lu Chien-soon, Hsu Mong-nan and Yeh Wei-tze finished in a group tied for fifth on 281.
Additional reporting by staff writer