Sihwan Kim. Asian Tour
By Matt Smith
The Asian Tour’ s top man was the top dog at the Trust Golf Asian Mixed Stableford Challenge on the Waterside Course at Siam Country Club in Thailand as Sihwan Kim secure his second Asian Tour title just over a month to consolidate his place at the top of the Order of Merit.
The American won the US$750,000 mixed event — which was the Asian Tour’s first ever Modified Stableford scoring event and was jointly sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour (LET) — with a total of 49 points.
Proving the female players could mix it with their male counterparts on the course, rising Swedish LET star Maja Stark came home in second on 47 points, with Thai home hope Budsabakorn Sukapan third with 42 points, ahead of Phachara Khongwatmai on 41.
Sihwan held an eight-point advantage going into the final round thanks to an impressive 61 on Friday. But he was made to work hard all day by the chasing pack and had his lead cut to two points ahead of playing partner Stark at the turn, and three from Phachara with five holes to go before a weather delay interrupted play.
That break allowed Sihwan to reset and the American’s made three birdies in a row immediately after the restart, which was enough to hold off a charge from Stark.
Sihwan earned $135,000, while Stark received $82,500.
“Obviously any win is a hard win. With Phachara just going strong in the beginning that put extra pressure on me but after the restart I think that cooled Phachara off and made me hot,” said Sihwan “I just said on 18 all I need to do is make par. I was seven points ahead, all I needed to do was get it into play and I thought the wind was more into but I did kind of fan it right and I didn’t think it was going to go that far into the bushes and after that I said I just should have hit driver anyway.”
His day was made up of six birdies, two bogeys and one double.
He added: “This is the first time I had a 10 under and an 11 under in a tournament and my putting has just been phenomenal, that’s pretty much what got me through it, and those putts were not short either. The putts in 14 and 16 were pretty lengthy ones, I am really confident in my putting right now.”
At the beginning of last month, the 33 year old had not won a title since turning professional in 2011 but claimed the International Series Thailand and followed that up this week with another impressive victory that validated years of patience and persistence.
For Stark it was yet another fine performance for a 22-year-old who won three times in her rookie season last year.
“I’m happy with my game,” she said. “My putting could have been a lot better, and my irons today weren’t very good, but I think I shot -6 and -20 is by far my best score on a four-round tournament. I’m happy with it. I feel like I have finally come back from winter golf and it being really cold and playing on even par is a fantastic score with those conditions, but I am very happy to get into the birdie and eagle mindset.”
The final-day drama brought to an end a groundbreaking and historic two weeks of mixed golf events jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and LET.
Ahead of the Stableford, 15-year-old Ratchanon Chantananuwat from Thailand’s claimed the $750,000 Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup becoming the youngest male player to win on one of the game’s major Tours.
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