Sunday, December 13, 2015

Donaldson wins Thailand Championship and 

heads qualiifers for 2016 Open

Chonburi, Thailand:  Welshman Jamie Donaldson led the qualifiers for The 145TH Open at Royal Troon by winning the Thailand Golf Championship today and was joined by England’s Lee Westwood, Clement Sordet of France and young Thai player Phachara Khongwatmai.
The championship at Amata Spring Country Club was the second event in The Open Qualifying Series with four places available in The Open at Royal Troon from 14-17 July 2016.  
Donaldson, who has three wins on the European Tour and won the decisive match in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, sealed a three-shot victory in Thailand with a seven-under-par closing round of 65 to finish on 21-under-par for the championship. The 40-year-old opened with three consecutive birdies and, despite bogeys at the 9th and 16th holes, picked up six further shots to secure the win and his sixth appearance in The Open.
Westwood, the former world number one and defending champion, posted a five-under-par 67 to finish on 18-under-par for the championship. 
 The 42-year-old notched up five birdies without dropping a shot and will now make his 22nd consecutive appearance in golf’s oldest championship, where his best finish has been as runner-up to Louis Oosthuizen at St Andrews in 2010.
Sordet closed with a two-under-par round of 70 to finish tied with Westwood on 18-under-par. The 23-year-old former Palmer Cup player mixed five birdies and three bogeys on his way to securing his debut appearance in a Major Championship. It caps a fine season for the Frenchman, who secured his maiden victory as a professional in only his fourth attempt at the Northern Ireland Open on the European Challenge Tour in August.
The final qualifying place was taken by home hope Khongwatmai, who dropped just one shot on his way to a final round six-under-par 66 to finish on 13-under-par for the Championship. The 16-year-old came through the Monday pre-qualifying event for the Thailand Golf Championship to finish in sixth place.
Sergio Garcia and Byeong-Hun An, who finished in a tie for fourth place on 14-under-par, are already exempt for The Open.
Key quotes:
Jamie Donaldson:
“It was important to come here and try and play well and contend and I did that and ended up winning. That’s what I came here to do.  It’s awesome when it all comes off your way.
“Importantly this has enabled me to get into The Open. I needed to win to get into the top 50 so there was a lot to play for and hopefully it all comes to fruition next year.”
Lee Westwood:
“It’s great to get into The Open. It’s my favourite championship of the year. I have played in every one since 1995 so it’s nice to keep that run going.
“I’ve played at Royal Troon quite a few times and I finished fourth there one year. I like the golf course as it’s a traditional links, straight out, straight back. It’s got everything you want from a links course.”
Clement Sordet:
“I really didn’t expect to get into The Open. I was very lucky to get an invite to this tournament and I was really fortunate to play well enough to win this spot. I am really looking forward to playing at The Open.
“I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to see all the best players in the world. Hopefully I will play well and make the cut but I’m just going to try and have fun.”
Phacara Khongwatmai:
“I am overwhelmed with happiness that I can be able to be included in The Open next year. I played with no expectations so I guess that was the key to playing well today.
“I came through the Qualifier on Monday and I was already very happy to get a chance to play with the top stars this week. I didn’t think so much and I surprised even myself to finish so well.”
The Open Qualifying Series continues at the Joburg Open in South Africa from January 14 to 17, 2016.

Chonburi, Thailand : Wales’ Jamie Donaldson wrapped up his season in perfect style by closing with a seven-under-par 65 to win the Thailand Golf Championship on Sunday.
Donaldson, who has not tasted victory prior to his triumph at the Amata Spring Country Club this year, ensured he would not end the year on a winless note when he compiled a winning total of 21-under-par 267 to take home the Thailand Golf Championship trophy. 
Clement Sordet’s magical run at the Amata Spring Country Club ended with a tied-second finish after the overnight French leader carded a 70 to share the spoils with former world number one Lee Westwood of England.
Korea’s Byeonghun An, who will be making his debut at next month’s EurAsia Cup in Malaysia, signed off with a 70 to take fourth place alongside Spain’s Sergio  Garcia on 274 total. 
Donaldson showed his resolve in regaining the lead he lost to Sordet on the third day when he came out strongly with three straight birdies.
Playing alongside Westwood and Sordet, the Welshman continued his charge with further birdies on seven and eight before dropping a shot on nine to turn in 32. 
After making another three birdies on 10, 12 and 15, Donaldson appeared to be cruising towards the title until a bogey on 16 saw his three-shot lead reduced to just one with both his playing partners making birdies on the same hole.
“I had a great birdie on 15 after hitting two very good shots before sinking a 20-footer putt. I pushed my tee shot a little bit on the 16 and it went to the back left pin. 
“The two of them played some great shots and both of them birdied. My comfortable three-shot lead was reduced to one after 16 and with 17 and 18 coming up, I just had to remain calm and keep hitting good shots,” said Donaldson.
Donaldson recovered brilliantly with another birdie on 17 and with Westwood and Sordet making a par and bogey respectively on the closing 18, it was left to the 40-year-old to drain an easy par putt for victory. 
“This is certainly one of my best victories. There are a lot of good players playing in the tournament this week. The field is very strong and to beat these guys is great,” said Donaldson.
While it was not the fairy tale ending that Sordet had hoped for, the 23-year-old was still elated with his finish at the Thailand Golf Championship. 
“I really didn’t expect such a result this week. I was really fortunate to get an invite as I was not supposed to play here and it’s great to finish tied-second.
“My caddie told me not to think too much about the score and just go and enjoy my golf today. You could see lots of our smiling faces on the course today,” said Sordet. 
Meanwhile Westwood is delighted to be heading back to the world’s oldest Major next year courtesy of his tied-second finish at the Thai showpiece.
“It’s great to be have made it into The Open. I’ve played every one since 1995 so it’s great to keep that run going. It’s been 21 years now and I’ve not missed one, so I’m happy,” said Westwood.

Par 288 (4x72) Yardage 7,498
267 - Jamie DONALDSON (WAL) 63-68-71-65.
270 - Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 71-68-64-67, Clement SORDET (FRA) 71-66-63-70.
274 - Sergio GARCIA (ESP) 66-69-70-69, Byeonghun AN (SKOR) 69-67-68-70.
275 - Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 68-71-70-66.
276 - S.S.P CHAWRASIA (IND) 72-69-68-67, Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 69-72-67-68, Martin KAYMER (GER) 68-65-72-71.
277 - Sunghoon KANG (SKOR) 70-68-70-69.
Selected scores
280 - Bubba WATSON (USA) 71-70-72-67
284 - Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 73-67-72-72



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