Thailand’s Thitiphun Chuayprakong cruised to his maiden Asian Tour win when he closed with a four-under-par 67 to secure a two-shot victory at the US$300,000 Bashundhara Bangladesh Open on Saturday.
The 23-year-old Thai, who held a three-shot lead heading into the final round, kept his composure to return with a round of five birdies against a lone bogey for a winning total of 21-under-par 263 at the Kurmitola Golf Club.
Countryman Sutijet Kooratanapisan surmounted a strong final day charge with a 66 but was not enough to pip Thitiphun to the win as he settled for second place, marking his best finish on the region’s premier Tour.
India’s Shubhankar Sharma signed for a splendid 65 to take third place on his own on 270 while compatriot Chikkarangappa S. (73) shared fourth with Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand (68) on 272.
Shakhawat Sohel emerged as the highest-placed Bangladeshi for the second consecutive year at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open after closing a 68 to take sixth place on 273.
Thitiphun showed his is the man for the big occasion when he hit his pinpoint approach shot from about 150 yards in the rough to six-feet from the pin before taking two putts to par the par-four 18 for his breakthrough victory.
“I have been waiting for this win for a very long time. I have worked really hard for this. I practiced with Sutijet a lot back home and we are very good friends. I knew he will play good today and he did. I guess I am lucky,” said Thitiphun, nicknamed ‘Tote’ by his friends which means slow as he does things in his own pace.
“I got a bit excited on the last hole because Sutijet birdied 17 and I only had a one shot lead but I just tried my best. When I hit my tee shot into the rough, I thought I should just hit it closer to the pin first. I managed to do that. I think my short game was what helped me to win this week,” added Thitiphun, who pocketed US$54,000 courtesy of his win.
Sutijet, who was also bidding for a breakthrough win, tipped his hat to Thitiphun for being a deserving winner.
“I think I put up a good fight today. I did my best but Thitphun was just too good with his short game. This is my best finish on the Asian Tour. I guess it’s not too bad a start for my first tournament of the season,” said the 28-year-old Sutijet, who fired eight birdies against three bogeys.
“I think I had a chance honestly. I knew I had to birdie the last hole to maybe force a playoff but I made a wrong choice of clubs off the tee. I hit driver on the last although I have been using the two-iron for the last few days. I hit it to 80 yards from the pin but made bogey on that hole after missing the green. Overall, I played some solid golf and I am happy with how I finished,” Sutijet added.
Sharma credited his hot putter for a commendable bogey-free round highlighted by six birdies and a best finish on the region’s premier Tour.
“I started very well. I birdied the first two holes. That made a lot of difference. I was able to ride on my momentum from there. I missed some opportunities for birdies out there but it’s alright. I think I played really well, especially on my back nine. I wasn’t in the mix so I didn’t think I had a chance. I just wanted to play my best,” said the 19-year-old Indian, who amassed 25 putts.
With the Olympic Games looming in July where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open will be a good opportunity for players in the region to earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro with the Official World Golf Ranking points on offer.
Scores after round 4 of the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open 2016 being played at the par 71, 6581 Yards Kurmitola GC course (am – denotes amateur):
263 – Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA) 65-66-65-67.
265 – Sutijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA) 67-67-65-66.
270 – Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 66-68-71-65.
272 – Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 68-69-67-68, Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 68-66-65-73.
273 – Shakhawat SOHEL (BAN) 70-66-69-68.
274 – Soomin LEE (KOR) 64-69-74-67, Zamal HOSSAIN (BAN) 68-69-68-69.
275 – Shankar DAS (IND) 70-71-69-65, Johannes VEERMAN (USA) 69-69-70-67, Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 68-66-72-69, Shunya TAKEYASU (JPN) 64-71-68-72, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 67-67-66-75.
276 – Yikeun CHANG (KOR) 70-71-69-66, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 69-67-71-69, Malcolm KOKOCINSKI (SWE) 69-68-70-69, Md. Abdul MATIN (BAN) 68-68-70-70.
277 – Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 66-69-73-69.
278 – Giwhan KIM (KOR) 70-68-71-69, Carlos PIGEM (ESP) 70-69-70-69, Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 69-67-72-70, Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 70-70-67-71, Kemarol BAHARIN (MAS) 69-69-67-73.
279 – Luke JOY (ENG) 71-71-68-69, Wolmer MURILLO (VEN) 71-70-69-69, Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 70-69-72-68, Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN) 69-73-70-67, Janne KASKE (FIN) 71-70-67-71.