Rookie Srithong clinches Manila Masters in thrilling style
MANILA: Thailand’s Natipong Srithong hit a brilliant five-under-par 67 to claim the Manila Masters in thrilling style yesterday, becoming the second Thai newcomer to win in successive weeks on the Asian Tour.
The 22-year-old, who only turned professional in September, carded a 15under-par 273 overall score at the par-72 Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club after overcoming a four-shot deficit in the final round.
Srithong finished one shot ahead of South Africa’s Jbe Kruger-who closed with a 71 — while overnight leader Hung Chien-yao of Taiwan, who sank a hole-in-one, was two shots behind alongside compatriot Lee Chieh-po.
The winner of what is the richest golf event in the Philippines, a final year law undergraduate, earned US$180,000 for his remarkable victory, emulating close friend and fellow rookie Danthai Boonma, who won in Singapore last week.
“Seeing Danthai winning last week was an inspiration,” said Srithong, who made crucial birdies on the 12th, 15th and 17th to emerge triumphant. “He was my roommate the past two weeks and after he won, he said it will be my turn soon. I didn’t expect it to be so soon,” added Srithong in comments supplied by the organisers.
Overnight leader Hung endured a torrid start, dropping four shots in six holes before he staged a fightback with a magical hole-in-one on the 13th with a finely struck two iron tee shot. But despite his heroics, he only managed to card 73 on his final round.
Final scores (par-72)
273- Natipong Srithong (THA) 7169-66-67. 274 - Jbe Kruger (RSA) 69-65-69-71. 275 - Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 68-66-7170, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 67-67-68-73.
276 - Rahil Gangjee (IND) 72-66-7068, Chan Kim (USA) 69-71-68-68, Prom Meesawat (THA) 72-68-67-69, Carlos Pigem (ESP) 68-71-67-70.
277 - Paul Peterson (USA) 70-67-7466, Lionel Weber (FRA) 72-67-70-68, Sam Brazel (AUS) 68-72-67-70. —AFP