Australia’s Min Woo Lee recorded an exceptional two-shot wire-to-wire victory in the US$1 million SJM Macao Open today, for his first title in two years.
The tournament’s marquee player, ranked 46 in the world, hit crushing drives and holed putt after putt to card an eight-under-par 63 for an astonishing four-round aggregate of 30-under – a new tournament record and two short of the Asian Tour record, although preferred lies were played on the first two days.
Thailand’s Poom Saksansin also fired a 63, like Lee bogey-free, and finished second after a fascinating final day dual between the big-hitting Australian and the tenacious little Thai golfer, hoping to replicate one of his giant-killing acts of the past.
Lee started the day with a two-shot lead over Poom and the margin was the same at the turn after both players pulled away from the field playing brilliant golf with four birdies apiece.
The turning point proved to be the par-five 13th, where Lee opened up a four-stroke cushion after he made an eagle, for the second day in row, against Poom’s par.
A wild drive a long way left on the short par-four 15th by Lee gave Poom a glimmer of hope, but his ball stayed away from trouble. He had a clear shot to the green and was able to avert disaster and make a comfortable par.
Predictably Poom refused to submit and made birdies on the next two holes to close the gap the to two before they both made four on the par-five 18th.
“I love it,” said 25-year-old Lee, who opened with rounds of 62, 64 and 65.
“As soon as the week started I had a couple of days rest because of the typhoon, and the course was looking amazing from the beginning. Obviously, it was pretty bad for a couple of days there, so it was props to the green keepers for keeping the course in such good condition.
“And yeah, I played wonderful, really flawless golf for a lot of the holes, there was only a few holes that I could really look back on. But yeah, I’m really proud of the way I handled myself.”
Lee’s score smashed the event’s previous lowest winning total of 20 under, set by Australian Scott Hend in 2015 and was just two short of the Asian Tour record, which Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat set at the SAIL Open in 2009, at the Classic Golf and Country Club in India, when he finished 32-under-par.
Said Lee, who only had two bogeys all week and earned a cheque for US$180,000: “Poom played unbelievable today, he’s a bad mofo! He never left, he just stayed around. I tried my best and ended up on top, but he was giving it to me for the whole time.”
It is his first victory since claiming the Scottish Open in July of 2021 and while he was winning in Macau, his sister and two-time Major winner Minjee Lee tied for 12th in the Buick LPGA Shanghai.
For Poom it was yet another fine performance coming off the back of his success in the Yeangder TPC last month and a joint third placing in last week’s International Series Singapore.
“I don’t know when I’ll be able to putt like this again,” said Poom, whose win at the Yeangder TPC was his first in five years and fourth Asian Tour title.
“I would say that I played very well today but needed a miracle to win. Like I said yesterday I would have to hit at least 10-under to win today. Lee is a very good player. He hits it very far and had a very good game plan. His chipping and putting are awesome. He should have been better than 30-under-par.”
The 30-year-old came very close to repeating some of his David verses Goliath experiences in the past such as when he famously beat England’s Paul Casey in the singles at the 2018 EurAsia Cup and got the better of England’s Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson from Sweden on the final day of the Indonesian Masters later that year.
Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai closed with a 64 to finish in sole possession of third while Chinese-Taipei’s Lee Chieh-po, in with a 63, and Miguel Tabuena from the Philippines, who shot a 65, tied for fourth.
American Jason Knutzon, the 47-year-old who won this event in 2005 and has not played tournament golf for five years, rolled back the years by closing with a 65 to impressively tie for sixth.
Defending champion Gaganjeet Bhullar from India signed for a 68 to end equal 17th.
The Asian Tour has a two-week break now before three successive weeks of high-profile events: the Volvo China Open, the Hong Kong Open, and the BNI Indonesian Masters.
Scores after round 4 of the SJM Macao Open being played at the par 71, 6609 Yards Macau Golf and Country Club course (am – denotes amateur):
254 – Min Woo Lee (AUS) 62-64-65-63.
256 – Poom Saksansin (THA) 67-62-64-63.
264 – Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 64-68-68-64.
266 – Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 66-65-72-63, Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 66-69-66-65.
267 – Honey Baisoya (IND) 68-65-69-65, Jason Knutzon (USA) 68-68-66-65, Taichi Kho (HKG) 66-69-66-66.
268 – Ben Campbell (NZL) 63-68-68-69, Jaewoong Eom (KOR) 65-65-65-73.
269 – Andrew Dodt (AUS) 65-67-72-65, Berry Henson (USA) 68-67-69-65, Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 68-64-71-66, David Drysdale (SCO) 62-71-70-66, Nick Voke (NZL) 72-65-65-67, Meenwhee Kim (KOR) 64-66-69-70.
270 – Denwit Boriboonsub (THA) 66-67-70-67, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 66-70-66-68, Zach Murray (AUS) 70-65-65-70.
271 – Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 63-70-70-68, Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA) 65-68-69-69, Jin Cheng (CHN) 66-68-68-69.
272 – Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 70-64-72-66, Jack Thompson (AUS) 65-69-72-66, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 69-69-68-66, Trevor Simsby (USA) 70-65-72-65, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 70-67-71-64.
273 – Panuphol Pittayarat (THA) 66-71-69-67, Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 69-63-72-69, Ian Snyman (RSA) 63-72-69-69, Sam Brazel (AUS) 67-68-69-69, Michael Maguire (USA) 65-68-70-70, Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 71-65-67-70.
274 – Kevin Yuan (AUS) 68-68-69-69, Tom Power Horan (AUS) 70-65-69-70, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 70-68-71-65.
275 – Steve Lewton (ENG) 68-67-68-72, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 68-70-70-67, Jeremy Gandon (FRA) 71-67-70-67.
276 – Josh Younger (AUS) 69-68-68-71, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 70-68-69-69, Angad Cheema (IND) 67-70-71-68.
277 – Natipong Srithong (THA) 72-66-68-71, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 66-70-71-70, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 70-66-71-70, Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 70-67-70-70, Wang Wei-hsuan (TPE) 68-69-71-69.
278 – Alvaro Ortiz (MEX) 67-71-68-72, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 70-66-71-71, Ollie Roberts (SCO) 72-66-70-70.
279 – Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA) 69-68-70-72, Nicholas Fung (MAS) 69-68-70-72, Justin Quiban (PHI) 67-67-74-71, Prom Meesawat (THA) 67-71-72-69, Yashas Chandra (IND) 70-68-73-68.
280 – Dodge Kemmer (USA) 68-70-66-76, Kartik Sharma (IND) 66-65-76-73, Turk Pettit (USA) 65-71-75-69.
281 – Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 68-69-73-71, Tanapat Pichaikool (THA) 70-67-75-69.
282 – Liang Wenchong (CHN) 68-68-75-71, Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI) 67-67-77-71, Tong Yang (CHN) 68-69-75-70.
283 – Yikeun Chang (KOR) 70-68-77-68.
292 – Poom Pattaropong (THA) 68-69-80-75.