Thailand’s Namchok Tantipokhakul displayed nerves of steel to claim an emotional victory at the Warisan Harta Sabah Masters. The 28-year-old Chonburi native nursed his overnight advantage to close with an even-par 71 for his first victory on the Asian Development Tour (ADT).
Namchok totalled seven-under-par 277 at Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club, two strokes clear of American Casey O’Toole who made a final round charge with a solid three-under 68. Thai youngster Nirun Sae-ueng dropped costly shots in the closing stages to return with a 74, settling for joint third alongside fellow Thai Piya Swangarunporn (71) on 282.
Kemarol Baharin rounded off his campaign as the top-placed local in the US$100,000 tournament jointly sanctioned by the ADT and the ASEAN PGA, finishing sole seventh on one-over 285.
Namchok’s victory not only ended a two-year title drought but propelled him to second on the ASEAN PGA Order of Merit race, securing him a start at the Asian Tour’s SMBC Singapore Open at the end of the month.
“I’m really relieved. It has been a really long time since I picked up a win and I felt a little nervous at the start of the round. My ball-striking was really good today but my putting let me down and I left a lot of birdies out there.
“I didn’t think even-par would be enough to win because my playing partners (O’Toole and Nirun) gave me a good fight but I stayed solid under pressure to lift the title,” said Namchok, who was flawless except for a bogey on 14th.
He noted that his sharp short game was crucial to his victory, especially when he converted a delightful chip-in to save par at the 15th.
“My short game really came through this week. On the 15th, I knew I needed to pull off something really special to preserve my two-shot cushion after dropping the bogey on the previous hole. I managed to get clean contact with the ball and as it sank into the hole, I knew the win was mine to claim.
“I lost my card on the Japan Golf Tour last year and this win is important because it is a real morale-booster. Getting into the SMBC Singapore Open and playing well there will hopefully open more doors for me in 2016,” added Namchok.
Reigning ADT money list winner O’Toole was five off the lead at the start of the day and notched four birdies on the front nine to move within two shots at the turn. However, back-to-back bogeys on the 11th and 12th derailed his title hopes with his only other gain on the 16th proving a late consolation.
277 – Namchok Tantipokhakul (THA) 65-70-71-71
279 – Casey O’Toole (USA) 70-71-70-68
282 – Piya Swangarunporn (THA) 71-69-71-71, Nirun Sae-ueng (THA) 68-70-70-74
283 – Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (THA) 75-71-68-69
284 – Antonio Lascuna Jr (PHI) 71-74-69-70
285 – Kemarol Baharin 71-69-71-74
286 – Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 71-72-72-71
287 – Sutijet Kooratanapisan (THA) 76-72-72-67, Jay Bayron (PHI) 71-73-72-71
288 – Cylde Mondilla (PHI) 78-71-69-70, Lam Yu Shuen 77-65-74-72, David Gleeson (AUS) 73-75-74-66, Mitchell Slorach (SIN) 70-72-74-72, Rufino Bayron (PHI) 74-70-70-74