Week 50: Saksansin jumps to career best of World No.140

December 17, 2018

Asian Tour - BNI Indonesian Masters

Thailand's Poom Saksansin showed why he is a class act when he fended off the challenges from his more illustrious rivals and fast-charging compatriots by closing with a four-under-par 68 to win the BNI Indonesian Masters presented by Bank Tabungan Negara (BTN), PT.Lautan Luas.Tbk and Bank Mandiri on Sunday.

Despite being ranked 239th in the world, Poom showed he would not be cowed into submission against two of the world's highest ranked players Justin Rose (2) and Sweden's Henrik Stenson (27) and a host of Asian Tour champions who had assembled at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club for the Asian Tour season-finale.

Like his first Indonesian Masters victory in 2016, Poom had his uncle, Pratya Ployprapai, on his bag again. Together, they forged another formidable partnership to win the last event on the Asian Tour by three shots with a four-day total of 20-under-par 268.

Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond, who started the day six shots back of Poom in third place, went on an amazing run by storming out in 32. He birdied 10 and eagled 12 to give himself a glimmer of hope of winning his third Asian Tour title.

However, two dropped shots on 15 and 17 put paid to all hopes. An eagle-three on his closing 18 brought the smiles back as it saw him end his Asian Tour season with seven top-10s and one victory.

Thailand's Panuphol Pittayarat, who won his National open in June, claimed his third top-10 result of the season by finishing third with a bogey-free final round 66 at the US$750,000 event.

The charge by Stenson to deny Poom his day of glory did not materialise as the Swede could not find his putting touch on the day that matters most at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.

Sunshine and European Tour - Alfred Dunhill Championship

American David Lipsky put on a short-game master-class on Sunday to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek by two strokes on 14-under-par.

Not even a double-bogey five on the par-three 16th was enough to stop him from cruising home ahead of Scot David Drysdale, with Zander Lombard and Scott Jamieson sharing third a further shot back.

“My wedge play and my short game was really on this week. It's definitely one of the strengths of my game, but this week, I definitely beat the odds!” he laughed. “I hit so many sand wedges to within 10 feet and that's what got me the win.”

The win was his second on the European Tour after his first came in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland in 2014.

But he had a shaky moment on the homeward nine when Lombard turned on the afterburners in an attempt to catch him – and Lipsky looked for a brief moment as if he might falter.

Lombard had responded to consecutive bogeys on eight and nine with five threes in a row after the turn, including three birdies and a superb eagle on 13. And Lipsky hit his tee shot on 13 into the hazard on the left to leave local fans thinking the leader was feeling the pressure.

Lipsky responded with a superb par-save on 13 – thanks to a laser-guided chip which ended up close to the pin, as usual – and then he emphasised his superiority on the day with an approach to 15 which he nearly holed. The tap-in birdie set things back on track again. “I probably wanted to be a little more stress free than that, but it ended up working out,” he laughed.

China Tour - The China Great Bay Open

Sweden's Andreas Gronkvist won the China Great Bay Open moving to a career best of World No. 879.

Big Easy Tour – Tour Championship

Luke Brown defeated Dylan Kok at the first extra hole of a sudden-death play-off to lift the Big Easy IGT Tour Championship trophy, but Kok still had plenty to celebrate after he finished atop the Road to Sunshine Tour rankings on Friday.

While Brown banked the lion share of the R200 000 purse, a pay-day of just over R20K in the season-finale of the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour at Centurion Country Club boosted the runner-up to the number one spot in the final rankings.

“Luke and I went toe-to-toe on the back nine, then had to gun it out in a play-off, so it's almost poetic justice that we should both leave with a big prize,” said the Pretoria golfer.

Brown made four birdies on the bounce down the stretch for a four-under 68 to set the clubhouse target at 13-under 203. Kok had a chance to win the outright, but had to settle for 70 after he missed a short putt for birdie at the closing hole.

The pair returned to the drivable par-four closing hole, where Kok won the toss and parked his tee shot on the green.

“The pin was tucked back left and close to the water and Dylan had about 25 foot left to the flag,” said 20-year-old Brown. “He putted well all day, so I went for it. I took a 2-iron out of the bag and aimed straight at the flag.”

The gutsy shot briefly flirted with the water, but found the target and finished four feet left of the hole.

“Dylan made a huge putt, but it pulled up a couple of inches short of the hole. I poured in a bunch of short ones in regulation play, so I felt really calm. I just stepped up and boxed it,” said Brown.

The eagle putt came with a huge reward.

The leading 10 players on the Road to Sunshine Tour earn cards for the 2019/2020 Sunshine Tour and Brown's R32 680 winner's cheque secured him second place on the Road to Sunshine Tour.

“I'm going to be a Sunshine Tour rookie next year,” grinned the delighted Brown.

“The relief is immense. I've worked really hard on my game this year with my coach Doug Wood (Wanna Be A Champion Academy). I've had some good finishes and I've been consistent, but I was 17th on the money list at the start of the week.

“The pressure to perform was immense. I just tried to keep things simple. Go out there, play shot-for-shot and try to block out the rankings, the results, everything. And somehow I got it right.”

Brown and Kok both had a bumpy start, but rallied on the back nine to set up a great duel.