Jakarta, April 22: Lee Westwood overcame fatigue to win his first title of the year and 38th career victory with a successful title defence at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters presented by PNTS on Sunday.
The world number three golfer completed a marathon of 32 holes as he returned on Sunday morning to finish the third round before closing with a final round two-over-par 74 for a winning total of 16-under-par 272 at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.
The Englishman defeated former Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, who returned with a 67, by two shots while India’s rising star Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shiv Kapur finished in tied third place at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.
Westwood, who finished tied third at the Masters Tournament two weeks ago, held a dominant eight-shot lead going into the final round but tiredness began to kick in on his homeward nine as he shot one birdie and three bogeys.
“Today was hard. It is never easy playing in these conditions and I had to play 32 holes. It was draining out there and I was really feeling it on the back nine. When you are in contention and under pressure, it seems to zap your energy faster,” said Westwood.
“You never know how to play with such a big lead. You don’t know if you should attack or defend. It is quite hard to get your mental attitude around it. It was a case of staying patient and calm and playing the holes correctly. It was exhausting,” he added.
Westwood, who won US$118,875 and a batik jacket, which is afforded to every winner of the tournament, hopes to replicate his winning performance this week in the three remaining Major championships of the year.
“Hopefully this will kick-start my year. I’ve played well without any wins so hopefully I can go on and win other tournaments. It is tough when you are the favourite because if you don’t win then it will be disappointing. There was a lot of pressure so I’m glad I did it,”added Westwood, who turns 39 on Tuesday.
Westwood is the 10th player to successfully defend his title on the Asian Tour. The last successful title defence was by Lu Wen-teh of Chinese Taipei, winner of the Taiwan Masters in 2007 and 2008.
Thai star Thaworn, winner of the Order of Merit in 2005, birdied the last two holes to claim his best finish of the season.
“I felt tired after the 12th hole but I held on. I couldn’t really hit my shots properly so I’m quite surprised with the way I finished. I haven’t won in a while but I’ve come close this season so I hope to keep the momentum going,” said the 12-time Asian Tour winner.
Bhullar, who won his first Asian Tour title in Indonesia in 2009, posted his fourth top-10 finish on the Asian Tour this year and was delighted with his battling performance.
“Indonesia is one of my favourite destinations. I won my first title here. Obviously when I play here I have a lot of positive memories. I’m quite confident my time to win will come really soon. I went through a slump last year but I guess that’s part of the game and I’m over it,” said 23-year-old.
Lee Sung of Korea, who was born with a hearing impairment, turned in 32 to narrow Westwood’s lead by three but his title hopes were dashed after shooting three straight bogeys from the 10th hole followed by two more dropped shots on 15 and 16.
“I lost concentration out there. That has been the story for me since last year. I really need to maintain my focus if I want to win again,” said a devastated Lee, who won on the Asian Tour in 2007.
Results (Top 10 and ties):
272 – Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 65-68-65-74.
274 – Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 72-69-66-67.
276 – Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 72-70-65-69, Shiv KAPUR (IND) 68-71-70-67.
277 – Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 74-68-66-69.
278 – BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 72-70-68-68.
279 – Angelo QUE (PHI) 69-73-68-69, LEE Sung (KOR) 68-71-67-73, Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT) 70-68-72-69.
281 – Berry HENSON (USA) 69-73-69-70, Wade ORMSBY (AUS) 71-73-66-71, Masanori KOBAYASHI (JPN) 69-68-74-70, Zaw MOE (MYN) 68-67-75-71.