Sunday, 2 December 2012
Khon Kaen, Thailand, December 2: Thailand’s Arnond Vongvanij showed that he can match up against the region’s biggest names when posted a flawless eight-under-par 64 to clinch his maiden Asian Tour title at the King’s Cup on Sunday.
Although the 23-year-old is only playing in his rookie season on the Asian Tour, Arnond displayed the form of a seasoned professional to pip veterans Mardan Mamat of Singapore and Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant to the title with his winning total of 22-under-par 266 at the Singha Park Khon Kaen Golf Club.
Despite missing out on his fourth win of the season, Thaworn took consolation that he now leads the Asian Tour Order of Merit with his tied-second place finish alongside Mardan after the duo closed with matching 268s.
Defending champion Udorn Duangdecha of Thailand had to settle for equal fourth alongside compatriot Thammanoon Sriroj after he signed off with a 67 at the King’s Cup which is the third last event on the 2012 Asian Tour Schedule.
After four top-10s this season, Arnond finally earned his career breakthrough in the most deserving way when he held off the combined challenges of Thaworn and Mardan who have a total of 18 Asian Tour victories between themselves.
Starting his final round three shots back of overnight leader Mardan, Arnond birdied holes two, seven, eight and nine to turn in 32.
He continued his birdie run on the 11th, 14th and 16th holes.
However with Mardan continuing to share the lead with Arnond right up to the 16th hole, the pivotal moment in the round would come at the par-three 17th when Arnond drained a 10-feet birdie putt to take the outright lead.
“I just kept playing one shot at a time and it was really a close fight all the way as Mardan was also making birdies. It was tough not to feel any pressure and I tried to steady my nerves after every hole,” said Arnond.
Arnond survived a scare on the closing 18th when his approach shot missed the green and landed in the rough. The Thai, however managed to save par by chipping his shot to within five-feet of the pin for his maiden win.
“This win means a lot to me as I now have a two-year winner’s exemption and I can focus on playing well at the every tournament that I take part in,” said Arnond, who holds a finance degree and is nicknamed ‘Bank’ because he was born the day after his mother took her Masters final examination in financial banking.
Mardan started off convincingly with an eagle-three on the third hole. He bogeyed the fifth but recovered well with birdies on the 10, 12 and 15 holes.
A poor tee shot on the 17th proved costly for Mardan as he went on to bogey the hole, dropping to 20-under.
The Singaporean then had to eagle his last to force a play-off with Arnond but he could only manage to reach the green in three and eventually settled for a par.
“I played really steady golf today except on the 17th where I had a bad swing. But other than that, it was okay. It was just tough with everyone chasing you down for the lead,” said Mardan.
“I’m very pleased with the way I putted and that’s the positive that I can take from my performance this week. Hopefully I can carry that over to the last two events,” added Mardan.
Thaworn, meanwhile tipped his hat to Arnond whom he felt was the deserving winner.
“Arnond played well today and he deserves to win. He played really good golf and to finish with a 64 is a good effort from a young man like him,” said Thaworn.
The 15-time Asian Tour winner then issued an ominous warning to his rivals in the Order of Merit race after he regained pole position.
“I’m beginning to believe that I can win the Order of Merit for the second time. There’re still two more events to play and I’m confident of doing well,” said Thaworn.
Leading scores after round 4 of the King's Cup being played at the par 72, 7418 Yards Singha Park course (a- denotes amateur):
266 - Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA) 65-70-67-64.
268 - Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 69-66-65-68, Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 63-70-66-69.
269 - Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA) 70-66-68-65, Udorn DUANGDECHA (THA) 65-68-69-67.
272 - Boonchu RUANGKIT (THA) 67-67-71-67, Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 67-69-69-67, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 65-69-70-68, Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 67-68-68-69, Piya SWANGARUNPORN (THA) 70-65-67-70.
274 - Quincy QUEK (SIN) 69-66-71-68, Simon GRIFFITHS (ENG) 69-70-67-68, Chris RODGERS (ENG) 64-69-72-69, CHIANG Chen-chih (TPE) 70-64-71-69, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 71-68-66-69, Javi COLOMO (ESP) 65-72-65-72.
276 - LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 66-68-69-73
278 - LAM Chih Bing (SIN) 69-69-71-69