Englishman Chris Wood secured the first win of his professional career on Sunday with a two-shot victory in the rain-interrupted $1-million Thailand Open, breaking the hearts of home fans.
Locals had been desperate to see a first Thai champion in eight years, but it was Wood, the 24-year-old European Tour regular competing in a OneAsia Tour event for the first time, who emerged from the hot and soggy conditions.
He fired rounds of 67, 64, 67 and 67 for a 23-under par total of 265 at Suwan Golf & Country Club.
Hard-charging Thais Arnond Vongvanij (65) and Wisut Artjanawat (67) battled to catch the strapping 1.96-metre (6 ft 5 inch) Wood, but they had to settle for a share of third place with South Korean Lee Dong-Hwan (67).
Alone in second was Jang Dong-Kyu, also of South Korea, who completed the first nine holes in just 29 shots en route to a closing 63 and the best result of his career.
“It is brilliant -- I am really, really pleased,” Wood told OneAsia, after what appeared to be a victory march from the 17th was interrupted by a rain delay of over an hour.
“It is hard winning. I always felt that once I got one win it would give me the confidence to go on and win more, so hopefully I can take this confidence back to the remainder of the tournaments I have got for the season.”
Wood, one of five European Tour regulars competing in the event, was four under after six holes, but gave his rivals a glimmer of hope with a bogey on the eighth.
At the 11th, however, he put one hand on the winner's cheque of over $181,000 with a birdie putt of around 30 feet and then repeated the feat on the 15th.
“I think I have turned the corner in my putting, which has let me down all season. I have been playing as well as I have done this week but without converting chances. It is nice to convert a few,” he said.
“I always knew once I cracked the putting I would be winning and this week proved my point.”
Thailand Open defending champion Andre Stolz of Australia, who won the OneAsia Order of Merit title last year, finished at eleven under after closing with a 67, his best round of the week.
265 - Chris Wood (ENG) 67-64-67-67
267 - Jang Dong-Kyu (KOR) 68-69-67-63
268 - Arnond Vongvanij (THA) 67-67-69-65, Wisut Artjanawat (THA) 66-64-71-67, Lee Dong-Hwan (KOR) 67-67-67-67
270 - Mark Brown (NZL) 70-65-70-65
271 - Yasunori Yoshida (JPN) 64-72-70-65, Kim Meen-Whee (KOR) 69-68-66-68, Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 65-66-68-72
272 - Scott Arnold (AUS) 70-68-67-67, Choi Ho-Sung (KOR) 66-69-69-68, Udorn Duangdecha (THA) 70-65-68-69, David McKenzie (AUS) 65-66-70-71 – AFP