Thailand’s Poom Saksansin returned from the golfing wilderness today to win his first Asian Tour title in five years after claiming the US$750,000 Yeangder TPC in Chinese-Taipei.
He closed with a six-under-par 66 to finish on 24-under for a fine three-stroke victory over defending champion Travis Smyth from Australia.
Smyth, bidding to become the first player to successfully retain the title, carded a 67, here at Linkou International Golf and Country Club in Taipei.
India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, who won this event in 2012, fired a 69 to settle for third place. His birdie on the last allowed him to finish one ahead of his countryman Rashid Khan (68), Chinese-Taipei’s Chan Shih-Chang (66), and Thailand’s Rattanon Wannasrichan (67).
After securing his fourth Asian Tour title, Poom said: “I don’t know what to say, happy, is all I can say. I’m so lucky today. I played well and had some good luck. Made some good decisions.”
Poom, the overnight leader by two thanks to an eagle on par-five 18th yesterday when he sensationally holed his third from 112-yards, has rarely been in contention on the Asian Tour for the past five years – with the exception being in last year’s Bangladesh Open, where he tied for fourth – but he showed no lack of competitive edge today, bravely holding the lead from start to finish.
He had a one stroke advantage at the turn, thanks to three birdies for an outward nine of three-under-par 33, from Smyth, who was playing in the penultimate group.
He then made birdies on 10 and 13 to go three ahead of Smyth – reminding the chasing pack why his nickname is the ‘baby-faced assassin’.
Smyth closed the gap to two with a birdie on 16 but Poom birdied the same hole soon after for a healthy cushion playing the last few holes.
Poom’s last win on the Asian Tour came in the BNI Indonesia Masters in December of 2018, the event he also claimed in 2016. His other victory came at the 2017 TAKE Solutions Masters, in India.
His impressive frontrunning win today is typical of the Thai golfer: he claimed his first Indonesian Masters title by five shots, the second by three, and triumphed in India by going wire-to-wire.
This week was made more special by the fact that his fiancee Piyatida, or ‘Ing Ing’, caddied for him.
“It makes her feel successful!” said Poom, who won US$135,000 this week.
“Because two weeks ago I almost won on the All Thailand Tour. I had a good chance to win but I three putted 17. She cried and I felt guilty. I think this time she’s going to forget that moment.”
The 30-year-old has talked about giving up tournament golf in the past because of the pressure of having to make the cut, week in, week out, but now heads to the Asian Games next week with renewed confidence.
Smyth went bogey-free, like Poom, but fell just short of his second win on the Asian Tour.
“Played pretty damn good, I shot bogey free five under,” said the 28-year-old.
“I had a lot of looks, wasn’t able to keep it going, but can’t really ask for much more. If you had told me you can have that before the round, I would have said yes, probably, so it was a good day.
“I love this place and I think this course likes me as well. You know, I hit it in the trees a couple times and got some lucky kicks back into the fairway and that sort of thing. I don’t know, I just I got a good feeling about this place. And yeah, two years in a row. It’s funny, you know, because I came here before I won, I played here one other time, and I hated it. I played terrible.
“It was my first year on the Asian Tour and I couldn’t figure out the grain, putted awfully, and I don’t know. I just feel like playing in Asia for so long now I can read the lies from the rough, I can read the greens a lot better, a lot more comfortable. And I don’t know what it is, I like this place.”
The Asian Tour remains in Chinese-Taipei next week for US$1 million Mercuries Taiwan Masters at Taiwan Golf & Country Club, from September 28 to October 1.
Scores after round 4 of the Yeangder TPC being played at the par 72, 7108 Yards Linkou GcC course (am – denotes amateur):
264 – Poom Saksansin (THA) 68-66-64-66.
267 – Travis Smyth (AUS) 65-67-68-67.
269 – Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 66-67-67-69.
270 – Chan Shih-chang (TWN) 68-70-66-66, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 67-68-68-67, Rashid Khan (IND) 70-66-66-68.
271 – Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 67-67-69-68, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 65-70-67-69.
272 – Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 65-71-71-65, Douglas Klein (AUS) 69-68-67-68, Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 66-69-67-70.
273 – Natipong Srithong (THA) 63-73-71-66, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 66-68-68-71, Su Ching-hung (am, TWN) 65-70-66-72, Lee Chieh-po (TWN) 67-67-66-73.
274 – Matthew Cheung (HKG) 65-71-71-67.
275 – Justin Quiban (PHI) 66-68-73-68.
276 – Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 64-70-75-67, Hung Chien-yao (TWN) 67-69-73-67.
277 – Huang Chi (TWN) 71-67-71-68, Berry Henson (USA) 69-71-70-67, Nicholas Fung (MAS) 66-71-71-69, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 68-69-70-70, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 67-70-69-71, Settee Prakongvech (THA) 68-69-69-71, Karandeep Kochhar (IND) 67-71-68-71.
278 – Ian Snyman (RSA) 68-67-75-68, Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 68-71-70-69, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 67-71-70-70, Hanmil Jung (KOR) 67-69-71-71, Jack Thompson (AUS) 67-66-70-75.
279 – Turk Pettit (USA) 68-71-71-69, MJ Viljoen (RSA) 66-73-72-68, Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 70-71-70-68, K P Lin (TWN) 70-71-70-68, Ben Campbell (NZL) 69-71-66-73.
280 – Michael Maguire (USA) 71-67-72-70, Nicolas Paez (USA) 67-73-69-71, Lai Chia-i (TWN) 71-65-74-70, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 66-68-76-70, Veer Ahlawat (IND) 68-70-70-72, Yeh Yu-chen (TWN) 68-70-68-74.
281 – Taichi Kho (HKG) 67-72-70-72, Chang Wei-lun (TWN) 70-68-71-72, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 69-72-71-69, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 71-70-72-68.
282 – Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI) 70-69-70-73, Khalin Joshi (IND) 69-70-71-72, Mardan Mamat (SGP) 71-70-69-72, Josh Younger (AUS) 66-71-74-71, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 72-68-72-70.
283 – Shahriffuddin Ariffin (MAS) 68-70-73-72, Ho Yu-cheng (TWN) 67-68-76-72, Viraj Madappa (IND) 74-66-72-71, Meenwhee Kim (KOR) 68-72-72-71.
284 – Denwit Boriboonsub (THA) 73-65-74-72, Liu Yung-hua (TWN) 67-72-68-77, Danthai Boonma (THA) 70-71-73-70, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 70-70-76-68.
285 – Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (IND) 69-71-71-74, Ben Leong (MAS) 69-71-73-72, Liu Yen-hung (TWN) 69-72-72-72, Chang Tse-yu (TWN) 68-73-73-71.
287 – Jarin Todd (USA) 71-69-72-75.
288 – Tom Power-Horan (AUS) 68-71-76-73.
290 – Shapiyate Mako (TWN) 72-69-71-78, Jaewoong Eom (KOR) 71-69-76-74.
291 – Dodge Kemmer (USA) 73-68-80-70.
293 – Huang Yi-tseng (TWN) 68-71-75-79.