Nitithorn Thippong. Asian Tour
Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong prevailed in the Indonesia Open on Sunday after a gripping finish at Pondok Indah Golf Course — confirming he has recaptured the kind of form that established him as one of the region’s most exciting young golfers last year.
Having started the day with a comfortable five-shot margin, he was pushed all the way to the finish line, closing with an even-par 72, for an 18-under-par total, and a two-stroke triumph over Australian Scott Hend, Steve Lewton from England and Chinese-Taipei’s Lee Chieh-po, who all carded 68s.
Hend, chasing his 11th win on the Asian Tour and first in four years, came closest to catching him but, playing in the group ahead, hit his tee shot on the par-five 18th out of bounds and made a costly double-bogey.
Nitithorn had appeared to be in complete control at the turn after two birdies and no dropped shots on the outward half to open a substantial lead on 20 under but dropped shots on 12 and 13 to give hope to his three nearest challengers.
However, he was able to par home to secure his third Asian Tour title and put behind him a poor first half to the season, when he was shadow of the player who recorded two breakthrough victories last year, in The DGC Open presented by Mastercard and the International Series Singapore.
Said the 26-year-old, whose nickname is ‘Fever’: “Wow, amazing! Like, I feel so happy about this win you know. Back the last few weeks I didn’t feel confidence like this, but after I played some rounds before, I came here and I just figured out my swing, got some good feelings and transferred to this tournament. Like I said the past few weeks, I was like how to hit, even how to impact the ball very well, I really struggled on my swing. But right now, I feel better, amazing!”
Nitithorn had not finished in the top-10 in nine starts this year until this week and had failed to progress to the weekend four times.
“I didn’t think I was going to win this year to be honest, but I just planned to be just keep doing my best,” he said.
“I was really excited when I finished hole number nine, and on hole number 10, this is funny, my caddie lost my towel and I just freaked out a little bit.”
He earned a cheque for $90,000 and moved into 11th place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
The next stop on the Asian Tour is the International Series England at Close House, in Newcastle, from 17-20 August.