Monday, December 24, 2007

Prayad foils Boonchu's title defence at E San Open

In-form Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand beat defending champion Boonchu Ruangkit at the third play off hole to win the E San Open on Saturday.

It was the 41-year-old Prayad's second triumph in two weeks following his emotional win in the Volvo Masters of Asia, a victory which helped him rise to world number 72.

He closed with a six-under-par 65 for a total of 19-under-par 265 but veteran Thai Boonchu, who had led the ASEAN Golf Tour event from the opening round, birdied the final hole for a 66 to take Prayad into extra holes at Victory Park Golf and Country Club.

The playoff was contested on the 18th with Prayad winning 7,576 dollars.

Angelo Que of the Philippines finished two shots behind in third after a closing 66 with Thailand's Kwanchai Tannin and Thaworn Wiratchant, the former Asian number one, in joint fourth place after carding 66 and 65 respectively.

"It is great to win my second tournament in two weeks," said Prayad, who birdied the third play off hole from 12 feet to edge his old rival.

"Boonchu is a great competitor and battled to the last. It was a close contest and I am happy to have won."

Prayad looked to have delivered the knockout blow on the par-three 17th hole with a superb sand save. Boonchu bogeyed after also finding the bunker off the tee.

But the old master dug deep into his bag of tricks to hit an exquisite approach below the trees to three feet at the 18th for birdie.

"The turning point was the 17th when I had a six foot putt to save par but I hit it too hard," said the 51-year-old Boonchu.

"It was a fantastic battle with Prayad and Angelo and a lot of fun. I do not have a great playoff record, I have won six and lost eight in my career, so I was not that confident going into sudden death."

The 50,000-dollar E San Open is the fifth leg of the fledgling ASEAN Golf Tour that was launched to create more playing opportunities for aspiring professionals from Southeast Asia and unearth new talent.

Leading final scores (a denotes amateur):

265 - Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 67-69-64-65 (won at third play off hole), Boonchu Ruangkit (THA) 64-69-66-66

267 - Angelo Que (PHI) 70-65-66-66

270 - Kwanchai Tannin (THA) 66-70-68-66, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 66-69-70-65

271 - Kiradech Apibalrat (THA) 71-69-70-61

272 - Sattaya Supupramai (THA) 70-65-67-70

276 - Tepphatud Sanawong (THA) 71-71-63-71, Wisut Artjanawat (THA) 74-68-66-68

279 - Nakul Vijityuthasart (THA) 70-68-69-72, Varut Chomchalam (THA) (a) 71-72-66-70, Mars Pucay (PHI) 74-71-65-69, Felix Casas (PHI) 74-66-72-67

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