Thailand’s Suteepat Prateeptienchai cantered to a four-shot victory in the US$400,000 Taiwan Glass Taifong Open to secure his first victory on the Asian Tour.
The Asian Tour rookie, who had a two-stroke lead at the start of the day, shot a fine four-under-par 68 to finish on 19-under here at Taifong Golf Club – in the second from last event of the season on the Asian Tour.
Thailand’s Atiruj Winaicharoenchai fired a 66 to finish second with Malaysian Shahriffuddin Ariffin who came in with a 69. It is the best performance by both players on the Asian Tour.
Pavit Tangkamolprasert from Thailand and Korean Seungtaek Lee tied for fourth, after they both returned 68s.
Five birdies in a row from the third set up Suteepat for the win and allowed him to stroll to victory exactly one year after he came second in this event to wrap up the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit (OOM).
Thirty-year-old Suteepat, a professional since 2017, burst onto the scene last year with three ADT wins, all in Indonesia, which helped earn him his place on the Asian Tour as the top-10 finishers from the OOM secured their cards.
He had enjoyed as strong debut season on the main Tour with five top-20 finishes before putting the icing on the cake today.
“Really happy, I love this place,” said Suteepat, who won US$72,000 and leapt into 24th place on the Asian Tour OOM, from 53rd.
“I won the ADT title here, I got my Asian Tour card from here, yeah, I love it. I just stuck to my game plan and my putter got really hot with those five birdies in row. None of the putts were short really, the shortest was 10 feet.”
With a substantial lead heading into the back nine he could afford to make three successive bogeys from the 14th before he restored order with a birdie on 17.
He added: “I didn’t chip well on those holes. I missed all those greens and could not get up and down.”
Atiruj and Ariffin have both taken giant steps forward to securing their Tour cards for 2024, with the former moving into 55th place on the OOM, from 80th, and the latter into 60th position, from 91st.
The top-65 earn their playing rights for the new season, with just one more event remaining, the Saudi Open presented by Public Investment Fund at Riyadh Golf Club from December 14-17.
“I was thinking about the Order of Merit all day to be honest, but I have been in this situation before, so I have experience,” said Atiruj.
“I just kept my head down and concentrated. I felt a bit nervous on the last few holes. It was a long week and a tough year. I just changed my swing with my coach and the results have now come.”
Said Ariffin: “It’s a big relief. The top five was my target so I am really happy to have done better than that. When he [Suteepat] made those five birdies in a row I knew we were playing for second. Just need to play well in Saudi.”
American Andy Ogletree’s confirmation as the Asian Tour Order of Merit champion will have to wait, as Filipino Miguel Tabuena, who is second on the Merit list, is considering playing in the season-ending event in Riyadh. The Filipino can catch the runaway leader but only if the wins and Ogletree misses the cut.
Nearly 30 members of the Asian Tour will head to the LIV Golf Promotions event this week at Abu Dhabi Golf Club from December 8-10. The top-three finishers there will secure passage onto the LIV Golf League next season.
Image: Asian Tour / chung500