Thai redemption at Saujana

Thailand’s Witchayanon Chothirunrungruen won the MPI Generali Saujana Amateur Championship in a dramatic playoff, making amends for his own playoff loss just five days earlier in the Malaysian Amateur Open.

MPI Generalii Saujana 2016 - WitchayanonThe 19-year-old Thai carded a closing 67 at Saujana Golf & Country Club’s Bunga Raya Course to make up a two-shot deficit and tie second round co-leader Wang Wei-Hsuan of Taiwan on nine-under-par. The duo had battled tooth and nail all day with Witchayanon taking the lead with back-to-back birdies on holes 15 and 16, only for Wang to force sudden death with a 25-foot curler at the tough finishing hole.

In the playoff at the par-four 18th, both players hit good drives and Witchayanon found the left greenside bunker with his approach. Wang opted to attack the dangerous pin placement at the right corner fringed by water right and back, but  overcooked the shot and watched in horror as the ball bounced off the green into the lake beyond.

Wang just failed to save par after taking a penalty drop, while Witchayanon played a delicate bunker shot to five feet and holed the putt for his first title outside of Thailand.

Wang Wei-Hsuan

Wang Wei-Hsuan

“When Wang made that birdie on the 18th hole, I thought to myself, “On no not again!” But I remained focused and just played one shot at a time. During the practice round I noted that the bunker at the 18th hole would be very much in play because of the surrounding water, so I practiced hitting a few different shots from it,” said Witchyanon, who lost in extra holes to Australia’s Lachland Barker in the Malaysian Amateur at Templer Park.

“I’m really happy to win especially against a tough competitor like Wang. He played really well and I had to be on my A game to stay with him,” added the slightly-built but long-hitting Thai.

Top Malaysian honours went to Danial Durisic in joint 10th place on one-over-par. Defending champion Daeng Abdul Rahman finished 24th.

A strong field of leading amateurs from the Asia Pacific region and beyond took part in the 29th edition of the championship, which was inaugurated in 1988 by Saujana. Past winners include Australia’s Robert Allenby , Taiwan’s Chang Tse-Peng, Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera and three-time champion Gavin Green of Malaysia, who all went on to carve successful professional careers.

RESULTS (Top 10 and ties)

207 – Witchayanon Chothirunrungrueng (THA) 68-72-67, Wang Wei-Hsuan (TPE) 71-67-69

213 – Hsieh Ting-Wei (TPE) 74-72-67

214 – Naarajie E Ramadhanputra (INA) 70-72-71, Lin Yu-Wei (TPE) 71-72-71, Abdul Hadi (SIN) 68-77-69, Josh Armstrong (AUS) 71-69-74

215 – Gregory Foo (SIN) 70-72-73, Tyler Wooster (AUS) 71-75-69

217 – Danial Durisic (MAS) 70-73-74, Andrew Schonewille (AUS) 77-69-71, Ira Christian Alido (PHI) 73-71-73

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