Irishman Padraig Harrington secured a thrilling victory at the US$750,000 BANK BRI Indonesia Open last Sunday after defeating a battling Thanyakon Khrongpha of Thailand by two shots.
The three-time Major champion held a four-shot lead at the start of the final round but stumbled at the turn in 37 as Thanyakon birdied three in his opening five holes to lead by two shots after nine holes.
Harrington clawed his way back up after a two-hour rain suspension to tie with Thanyakon heading into the 18th hole where drama ensued at the Damai Indah Golf, PIK Course.
Padraig Harrington holds the champions trophy after winning the 2014 BANK BRI Indonesia Open at the Damai Indah Golf, PIK Course in Jakarta, Sunday, Dec. 7.
Under immense pressure to win his first Asian Tour title, the 24-year-old Thai hit his second shot into the water for a double bogey as Harrington sealed the win with a 15-foot par putt after taking a penalty drop when his tee shot landed on the edge of the hazard.
Harrington, who signed for an even-par 71 and a winning total of 16-under-par 268 said, “Winning is a good habit to have. It gives you a lot of confidence and I need that confidence. I didn’t start too well but I came through and I got the win. This win brings a lot of confidence to my game and hopefully it will show up next year.”
“I had a bad break on the 18th hole when I hit my tee shot and it rolled to the edge of the hazard. I was about to chip my ball sideways to the fairway but when Thanyakon hit it into the water, there was no point to take a chance. So I went back to the fairway and hit my six iron for my best shot of the week,” said Harrington.
After completing five holes in his third round on Sunday morning, Harrington opened his final round campaign with a bogey before dropping two shots on the par three seventh hole. He admitted that the rain delay after nine holes helped him recover.
“I hit a few bad shots earlier on and I hit a careless shot on the seventh hole. The biggest thing for me at that stage was that I was really praying for a rain delay. My momentum was gone but Thanyakon was flying and he didn’t miss a shot,” Harrington explained.
“It was very unlucky for Thanyakon because of that rain delay. It was unfortunate but he can be very proud with how he played all the way through. He is really impressive. He looks like a player to watch for in the future,” added the Irishman.
A dejected Thanyakon rued the missed opportunity to win his first Asian Tour title after struggling to hold his nerve on the 18th hole.
“It was a great final round from me but I was under so much pressure on the last hole. I’m still happy with how I played. The rain delay stopped my momentum. It wasn’t good. The pressure made me scared,” said the young Thai, who posted a 69.
David Lipsky of the United States extended his Order of Merit lead by slightly over US$133,518 after finishing sixth while Merit runner-up Anirban Lahiri of India stumbled to tied 15th place after closing with a triple bogey.
24-year-old Thanyakon Khrongpha (left) fought back in Round 4 but fell short of claiming his first Asian Tour title when he double-bogeyed the 18th hole.
“Looks like I increased my lead and I’m feeling pretty good about that. The goal was to play solid here. Step one done and now I’ll move on to the Thailand Golf Championship and see what I can do there,” said Lipsky, who won the Omega European Masters in Switzerland in September.
Lahiri will have much to play for in the remaining two Asian Tour events. “I got a lot to play for. David has a good lead and I need two solid results in the last two events. I think I’m playing well enough but I got to put it together over four rounds. I haven’t done that in these last two weeks.”
Focus now switches to Thailand this weekend for the Thailand Golf Championship, being held from Dec. 11-14 at the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi. The $1 million dollar event will feature a plethora of world golf stars including defending champion Sergio Garcia of Spain, Bubba Watson from the United States, 2014 US Open champion Martin Kaymer of Germany, England’s Lee Westwood, South Africa’s Ernie Els and Thai favourite Thongchai Jaidee.
Tickets for the event cost 300 baht for Friday, Dec. 12, 400 baht for Saturday, Dec. 13, and 500 baht for Sunday, Dec. 14. A 4-day pass costs 800 baht. Amata Spring Country Club is approximately 45 mins drive from Pattaya. For directions to the course, go to website: www.thailandgolfchampionship.com.