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Courtesy - V Krishnaswamy
PHOTO GALLERY SCORESHEET
Gurgaon, India, March 21, 2009: Chapchai Nirat's flawless final round of five-under 67 seemed modest by his own lofty standards that saw him twice card 10-under this week, but it was just enough to give him a bagful of records enroute to winning the S $ 300,000 SAIL Open golf tournament at the Classic Golf Resort on Saturday. The 25-year-old Chapchai, won his third Asian Tour title with a total of 32-under 256, that sent the world media scurrying in search of the record books.
Chapchai, staying modest despite his monumental effort, and speaking through a translator, "I was confident from the very start today. This win has given me a lot of confidence and I think I will now be able to take this momentum forward and probably win two to three more tournaments this year," said Chapchai, who picked the winner's cheque of $ 47,550 besides the gleaming Omega's 'Double Eagle' watch that went alongwith the winner's trophy.
India's Gaganjeet Bhullar riding a 43-hole bogey free streak saw it snap on the first hole on the final day. He birdied the second, but dropped a bogey on seventh only to make on eighth. On the back nine, he had back-to-back birdies on 14th and 15th, but missed a crucial 15-footer birdie putt that would have given him sole second. Bhullar ended at 21-under for tied second with Australian Richard Moir (68). Bhullar and Moir won $ 25,425 each.
"It was disappointing not to birdie that last hole from about 15 feet," said Bhullar. "But still I will take this second place. It was great playing alongside Chapchai, who was amazing all through the week."
The rest of the Indian challenge withered away, as Ashok Kumar (70) dropped from 10th to 12th, while Amandeep Johl, whose employers SAIL sponsored the tournament celebrated with a final round of 68 that made him the third best Indian this week in 15th place. Shiv Kapur (72) and Vikrant Chopra (67) tied for 20th place with Mardan Mamat (70) at 13-under.
Chapchai set a series of records, that began with a course record on first day and continued with records for 36 and 54-hole totals. On the final day he carried on with a 67 that saw him grab the Asian Tour record for the lowest wining total ever, beating Ernie Els' 29-under at the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth. He also bettered Els'
best four-round winning total (in relation to par) of 31-under 267 on the par-73 Plantation Course in Hawaii, while winning the Mercedes Benz Championships on the PGA Tour.
Interestingly, earlier this year at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on US Tour, Pat Perez won the five-round tournament with a total of 33-under. In the same tournament, Steve Stricker of the US led after four rounds at 33-under, but dropped to 28-under with a five-over in the final round.
One record that eluded Chapchai's grasp was Ernie Els' winning margin of 13-shot achieved at the 2005 BMW Asian Open, as Chapchai won by 11-shots over Bhullar and Moir.
The newly crowned SAIL Open champion's score is believed to be one of the lowest scores ever recorded in the world for a four-round tournament.
Chapchai, who has just two bogeys through the week and an amazing 34 birdies in four rounds, said, "My target was just to win and I did not think of the record so there was no pressure during the final birdie putt which helped me break the record."
Bhullar, who at best had an outside chance of upsetting Chapchai, never got a chance after two bogeys in his round. He did well to hang in for a tied second, even as Moir made a great charge on the final day.
Thailand's Thammanoon Srirot, South Africa's Keith Horne and New Zealand's Mark Purser were tied for fourth at 269, while Australia's Chris Gaunt and Thailand's Wisut Artjanawat ended their Indian campaign in tied-seventh on 270.
The spotlight once again shone brightly on the Thai standout who produced a bogey-free grandstand finish that was highlighted by five birdies.
When Chapchai started to make the turn in two-under and extending his lead over Bhullar to 10 shots, the question among the galleries was not about who was going to win the tournament but rather the number of shots Chapchai would win the tournament by.
"Chapchai just played some fabulous golf through the week. He's been hitting it so well and doesn't seem to feel any pressure," said Bhullar.
Bhullar's hopes of a maiden breakthrough on the Asian Tour faded after he could only manage four birdies against two bogeys on a day where Chapchai was simply at the top of his game.
Second-placed Moir was also left to applaud the heroics of Chapchai.
"It's an outstanding effort. I don't have any words, it's unreal. His monstrous drives made it seem like he's playing on a par-three course," said Moir.