Monday August 13, 2012
Wood picks up maiden win in Thailand
BANGKOK: Englishman Chris Wood scored the first win of his professional career with a two-shot victory in a rain-interrupted US$1mil Thailand Open at the Suwan Golf and Country Club yesterday.
The 24-year-old European Tour regular – competing in a OneAsia Tour event for the first time – fired rounds of 67, 64, 67 and 67 for a 23-under total of 265 to break the hearts of home fans who were hoping for a first Thai champion in eight years.
Hard-charging Thais Arnond Vongvanij (65) and Wisut Artjanawat (67) battled to catch the strapping 1.96m (6’5”) Wood but had to settle for a share of third place with Korean Lee Dong-hwan (67).
South Korea’s Jang Dong-kyu, who completed the first nine holes in just 29 shots en route to the best score of his career, finished second.
“It is brilliant. I am really, really pleased,” said Wood.
“It is hard to bag a win. I always felt that once I got one win it would give me the confidence to go on and win more, so hopefully I can take this confidence back to the rest of the tournaments I have got for the season.”
Wood, one of five European Tour regulars competing in the event, was four-under after six holes yesterday but gave the chasing pack a glimmer of hope when he hit a bogey on the eighth hole.
At the 11th, however, he put one hand on the winner’s cheque of over US$181,000 with a birdie putt of around 30 feet and then effectively pocketed it with an even longer effort on the 15th.
“It was a tough putt, but I putted really well this week,” he said.
“I think I have turned the corner in my putting which has let me down all season.
“I have been playing as well as I have done this week but without converting chances.
“It is nice to convert a few. I always knew once I get over my putting problems I would be winning and this week proved my point.”
Thailand has not produced a home winner of the National Open since Boonchu Ruangkit won in 2004 and the only other local winner of the event, Suthep Meesawat (1991), was at the course yesterday to watch his son, Prom, try to emulate that feat.
The “Big Dolphin”, as Prom is known locally, had the lead after two rounds but could go no better than par over the weekend to slip down the leaderboard.
His close friends Wisut and Arnond took up the challenge, but the pressure of winning a trophy that has a spiritual significance for Thais because it was donated by their much-revered King, proved too much.
“Just a few players played a little better than me so I have a lot of positives to take away from the Thailand Open,” said Arnond, who went to college in the United States.
Leading final round scores
(Thailand unless stated)
265: Chris Wood (Eng) 67-64-67-67; 267: Jang Dong-kyu (Kor) 68-69-67-63; 268: Arnond Vongvanij 67-67-69-65, Wisut Artjanawat 66-64-71-67, Lee Dong-hwan (Kor) 67-67-67-67; 270: Mark Brown (Nzl) 70-65-70-65; 271: Yasunori Yoshida (Jpn) 64-72-70-65, Kim Meen-whee (Kor) 69-68-66-68, Chan Shih-chang (Tai) 65-66-68-72; 272: Scott Arnold (Aus) 70-68-67-67, Choi Ho-sung (Kor) 66-69-69-68, Udorn Duangdecha 70-65-68-69, David McKenzie (Aus) 65-66-70-71; 273: Pawin Ingkhapradit 70-66-72-65, Kenichi Kuboya (Jpn) 71-66-70-66, Michael Wright (Aus) 70-69-67-67, Chapchai Nirat 70-70-66-67, Kiradech Aphibarnrat 66-70-69-68, Peter O’Malley (Aus) 70-70-65-68, Thaworn Wiratchant 68-64-72-69, Prom Meesawat 66-63-72-72; 274: Kim Hyung-tae (Kor) 64-73-69-68, David Horsey (Eng) 70-69-67-68, Terry Pilkadaris (Aus) 68-71-66-69, Choi Jin-ho (Kor) 66-66-72-70, Gareth Paddison (Nzl) 70-67-67-70.
Selected: 288: Nicholas Fung (Mas) 66-73-74-75.