Sunday, December 06, 2015

Ho Tram, Vietnam: World number 12 Sergio Garcia prevailed in a four-way play-off to win the inaugural US$1.5 million Ho Tram Open after an enthralling final round today in Vietnam. 
The 35-year-old Spaniard parred the second extra hole at The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip to pip a courageous Himmat Rai of India to the title after Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen-tang and Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant had bowed out earlier in the play-off climax to  the richest full-field Asian Tour tournament this season.
Garcia’s 23rd career Tour victory and his first since January, 2014 came with a cheque of US$270,000.
“Winning is never easy. I was fortunate and you have to be lucky to win. I was fortunate to get a second chance after I pretty much gave it away. I’m very happy as I haven’t won in a while," said Sergio.
"After you’ve been up there and you don’t win, a lot of things go through your mind and this win will give me a little bit more confidence,” said Garcia, who signed off with a three-under-par 68 for a 14-under-par 270 aggregate.
Starting the day two back of overnight leader Lin, Garcia stormed out with a stunning outward 29 to open up a three-shot lead before his game surprisingly unravelled with a bogey on 10 and a double bogey on 17.
Thaworn and Rai came home in 67s while Lin scrambled to a 70 to force extra-time which left spectators at the edge of their seats as they awaited to hail the Ho Tram Open’s first ever champion.
In the first extra hole on 18, Garcia, who has now won five Asian Tour titles, drained a massive 35-foot birdie putt which was matched by Rai, who coolly converted from five feet after Lin and Thaworn missed their birdie attempts. 
The Spaniard then claimed a popular victory with a par after Rai bogeyed the second play-off hole after finding the bushes with an errant drive.
“It was a strange day. It felt like I was so much under control, the way I played the front nine. Then I hit a bad tee shot on 10 but I still managed to get it back together and had some chances which I didn’t make. Then I hit a poor shot on 17,” said Garcia.
“I guess they gave me a hat in my hand, I gave it away and they gave me another chance. It was just luck for me. I had 30 to 35 feet (in the first play-off hole), and even if you hit a great putt, you need to get lucky. Then I managed to get to the next hole and unfortunately Rai pulled it a bit left into the bushes and I managed to make four and that was it.”
Rai, whose lone Asian Tour victory came in 2011, charged into contention with a birdie, birdie, eagle run from the 14th hole but rued a three-putt bogey on 18 in regulation play which proved costly.
However, the 28-year-old Indian took comfort that his joint runner-up cheque of US$111,500 was more than enough to safely secure his Tour card for next season after starting the week in 116th place on the Order of Merit.
par 284 (4x71) Yardage 6,797
270 Sergio GARCIA (ESP) 66-68-68-68, Himmat RAI (IND) 66-69-68-67, Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 64-71-68-67, LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 65-67-68-70   (Garcia won with a par on the second play-off hole)
271 Thomas BJORN (DEN) 69-70-68-64.
273 Sam CYR (USA) 69-69-70-65, Shaun NORRIS (RSA) 66-71-65-71.
274 Sunghoon KANG (KOR) 72-68-67-67.
275 Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) 68-67-72-68, Terry PILKADARIS (AUS) 71-67-69-68, Paul PETERSON (USA) 66-70-68-71.
276  Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 65-70-72-69, Charlie WI (SKOR) 62-72-72-70.S
277 - Jeunghun WANG (SKOR) 75-67-70-65, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 69-71-68-69, Geoff OGILVY (AUS) 69-70-67-71.


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