Plaphol tames Santiburi Samui for Queen’s crown

Samui, Thailand; June 19: Local favourite Chawalit Plaphol claimed the Queen’s Cup on Sunday as he ended a frustrating five-year Asian Tour drought and completed a unique Thai double.

The 36-year-old, who led by one overnight, produced a polished three-under-par 68 at the Santiburi Samui Country Club to beat countryman Prayad Marksaeng, who closed with a bogey-free 67, by two shots.

Japan’s Daisuke Marumaya settled for third place, six shots back after a 73 while South African Peter Karmis eagled his last hole for a 70 to take fourth place in the US$300,000 Asian Tour event on the holiday isle of Samui.

“This feels good. I’ve not had a trophy in five years. My last win (Bangkok Airways Open) was also on this course, so I felt quite confident of winning. I’m happy to have the Queen’s trophy as I have won the King’s Cup before when it was a local event,” said Chawalit, who earned US$47,550 for his third Asian Tour success.

After opening with a bogey on another wind-swept day, Chawalit, who totaled 11-under-par 273, produced some magnificent golf to remain ahead of the chasing pack, shooting birdies on six and eight to keep his one-shot advantage.

The smooth-swinging Thai rolled in a pivotal 15-footer on 11, nearly holed-in-one on 15 for birdie and then converted another birdie opportunity from four feet on 17 to open up a three-shot gap which gave him the luxury of dropping a bogey on the last hole in front of his fans.

“I had a good feeling today. It was difficult on every hole with the strong winds.  I had to be in control, had to be patient. It was in my hands. My tee shots were good and I wasn’t worried about Maruyama or Prayad. I knew if my tee shots were good, I would be okay,” said Chawalit.

Prayad endured his third top-three finish in seven years at the demanding Santiburi Samui after fighting all the way with a blemish-free card highlighted by four birdies. He turned in 33 but could only produce another birdie on 15 as his countryman eventually coasted to victory.

“I’m happy. I thought if I shot four or five under, I would have a chance to win but Chawalit simply played better. On the back nine, I kept leaving my putts short of the hole,” said the 45-year-old Prayad, who was chasing his seventh Asian Tour win.

“The winds made it difficult all day and it was hard to get the ball close the flags. I am still winless here but one day, I’m sure I will win a tournament in Samui.”

Maruyama stayed within striking reach of the leader after turning in 36 but a costly double bogey on the par three 13th hole following an errant tee shot derailed his title ambition.

“I didn’t play good. I couldn’t make birdies. I just couldn’t putt. It was blowing which made it harder. Chawalit played really good and he deserves the win,” said the Japanese.

Canadian veteran Rick Gibson, who lost in a play-off to Chawalit five years ago, shot the day’s best with a 65 to share fifth place with back-in-form Prom Meesawat of Thailand and South African Jbe Kruger on 281.

Leading final round scoresp
273 – Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 70-67-68-68
275 – Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 65-73-70-67
279 – Daisuke Maruyama (JPN) 68-67-71-73
280 – Peter Karmis (RSA) 70-70-70-70
281 – Rick Gibson (CAN) 72-74-70-65, Prom Meesawat (THA) 70-73-71-67, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 67-68-73-73
282 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 72-74-69-67, Anirban Lahiri (IND) 66-72-73-71
283 – Tjaart Van Der Walt (RSA) 72-74-68-69, Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) 69-67-74-73, Gavin Flint (AUS) 67-71-69-76, Somkiat Srisanga (THA) 70-67-69-77
284 – Mo Joong-kyung (KOR) 70-69-71-74, Mars Pucay (PHI) 70-73-67-74.
285 – Siddikur (BAN) 69-68-74-74, Lin Wen-hong (TPE) 72-68-70-75, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 73-69-67-76