Thai veteran golfer Thaworn Wiratchant holds aloft the Queen's Cup trophy after winning the tournament by one shot in Thailand on Sunday. - AFP
KOH SAMUI: Thai veteran star Thaworn Wiratchant came from five shots back to win an unprecedented 17th Asian Tour victory with a classy one-stroke triumph at the Queen’s Cup.
The 47-year-old Thaworn holed a five-foot birdie putt on the closing hole to pip overnight leader Poom Saksansin with a final round of five-under 66 at the Santiburi Samui Country Club on Sunday.
His winning card of 12-under 272 earned him his second Queen’s Cup title in three years and a winner’s cheque of US$54,000 (RM173,000), as well as the record victory on the Tour.
Thai rookie Poom, who had led since the opening day, settled for second in the US$300,000 (RM964,000) tournament after a closing 72 while Bangladeshi star Siddikur Rahman (72), who briefly held the lead on the back nine, shares third place with Thailand’s Donlapatchai Niyomchon (68).
“It is so meaningful to me, whether it’s a small or big tournament. At every tournament, I always try my best,” said a delighted Thaworn, whose win lifted his career earnings on Tour to over US$4mil (RM12.8mil).
The unorthodox swinging Thaworn surged into a one-shot lead with a birdie on 14 but made life difficult for himself by dropping a bogey on 17 after missing a four-foot par attempt.
This set-up a tense finale as Poom fought back from a wobbly outward 39 with birdies on 16 and 17 to make it a three-way tie going into the last hole. Thaworn’s experience, however, came through in the end with a five-foot roll into the hole as Siddikur and Poom blew their chances with wayward approach shots.
“I knew I had to play well on 18. I wasn’t very confident as I made bogey on 17. I aimed for the green, which would give me a birdie chance. I was confident from there onwards,” said Thaworn.
Leading by one overnight, the 21-year-old Poom struggled with nerves to drop three early bogeys but fought back with the two late birdies, which still wasn’t enough.
“Although I didn’t win, I am still happy,” said Poom, who took home US$33,000 (RM106,000).