Chonburi, Thailand, December 18 – England’s Lee Westwood romped to a seven-shot victory in the US$1 million Thailand Golf Championship at the Amata Spring Country Club, carding a final round 69 for a total of 22-under-par 266.
Westwood started the final round four shots ahead of Charl Schwartzel and endured an early challenge from the South African before pulling clear on the home stretch. The win gave Westwood his eighth title in Asia and moved him up to number two in the world rankings at the expense of Rory McIlroy, who pulled out of the event citing fatigue.
Westwood had opened his campaign with a career best 12-under-par 60 and carded a second round 64 to open up an 11-shot lead and threaten to turn the tournament into a race for second best. But a third round 73 allowed Schwartzel, who shot 66, to narrow the deficit to four shots. But the South African failed to sink the putts when they mattered in an exciting final round, while Westwood kept his composure to seal the win.
“This is probably the best I’ve ever played,” said Westwood. “This is not an easy golf course as the scores would suggest, especially when the wind picks up. You have to play well.
“The course is in immaculate condition and the greens are the best I’ve putted on all year.”
Schwartzel paid tribute to Westwood, saying: “I played great. If it wasn’t for Lee, I would have probably won the tournament.”
American journeyman Michael Thomspon took sole possession of third spot on 14-under-par after finishing with a 70, two shots clear of Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol and England’s Simon Dyson.
Only one Malaysian, Ben Leong, made the cut in the Asian Tour season-ender. He finished in 65th spot on 11-over-par after rounds of 74, 72, 75 and 78.
-22 Lee WESTWOOD 60-64-73-69
-15 Charl SCHWARTZEL 69-66-66-72
-14 Michael THOMPSON 69-66-69-70
-12 Simon DYSON 69-70-68-69, Chawalit PLAPHOL 73-71-65-67
-9 Guido VAN DER VALK 71-69-66-73, Daisuke MARUYAMA 73-68-68-70
-8 Alex CEJKA 71-71-71-67
-7 Tetsuji HIRATSUKA 71-72-68-70, Jeev Milkha SINGH 71-68-72-70