Pariya wins pressure-packed Selangor Masters

Pariya Junhasavasdikul pumps his fist in victory ©Khalid Redza/Asian Tour
Pariya Junhasavasdikul pumps his fist in victory ©Khalid Redza/Asian Tour

Petaling Jaya (ASIAN TOUR): Pariya Junhasavasdikul drained a pressure-packed five-foot par save at the last hole to win the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters by a single stroke on Sunday, ending a frustrating three-year winless run.

The 29-year-old Thai completed a wire-to-wire triumph following a one-under-par 70 at the Seri Selangor Golf Club to edge India’s Anirban Lahiri, who challenged with a 68 in the RM1.2 million (approximately US$400,000) Asian Tour event.

South Korea’s Baek Seuk-hyun, who held the lead up till the 15th hole, settled for third place after dropping a double bogey and bogey on 16th and 17th to finish alongside another Thai, Namchok Tantipokhakul, who stormed up the leaderboard with a 65.

Chinese Taipei veteran Lu Wen-teh took fifth place while there was plenty of admiration for 19-year-old Malaysian amateur Gavin Green, who tied for the lead on the front nine, as he settled for a share of sixth place after a 73, which included a one-stroke penalty which he called on himself when his ball moved on the 11th green.

Pariya, who pocketed US$68,954 for his second Asian Tour victory, raised his fist in delight after he coolly got up and down at the closing hole to grab victory following a day of high drama.

“I’m still shaking right now. I can’t describe the feeling. Like in Taipei (when he won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters in 2010), it just hit me when I was in the car heading to the airport. Walking down the last three holes, there was tremendous pressure,” said Pariya, who ended the week on nine-under-par 275.

The 22-year-old Baek, who is Pariya’s regular practice partner and roommate, was striding towards his first Asian Tour title but the 16th hole, which he triple bogeyed on Saturday, got to him again as he lost his ball with a poor drive for a double bogey six which handed Pariya the advantage.

With Lahiri in the clubhouse on eight under after producing some sublime golf, Pariya was forced to get up and down for par on the last hole but he calmly rolled in his winning putt.

“I didn’t think about it (the last putt) too much. I saw Baek’s line was left to right, and Gavin had putted before me and they showed me the line which was half a ball outside the edge. It was a downhill putt and all I had to do was to put a good stroke in. Luckily, I didn’t feel any pressure then. I kept to the routine and got it over with,” said Pariya.

“Nobody can tell you how much pressure it is to lead by one shot from the first round up till the last. Last night, when I was in bed, I couldn’t sleep. I started thinking what would happen if I won. And then it hits me that I’ve not won it yet. I reminded myself that I still had to play 18 holes and it took the pressure off a bit.”

Lahiri, who was chasing his fourth Asian Tour win and his first outside of India, gave himself a good chance by getting to four under through 14 holes. A three-putt bogey on 15 proved costly before he agonizingly missed a good birdie chance on 18 from about 15 feet.

“I guess I have to wait a little longer for that win outside of India,” smiled Lahiri, who won the SAIL-SBI Open in India earlier this season. “I’m really happy with the way I played. On 18, I was not 100 per cent sure on the line. I thought it was pretty much straight, a double breaker. When I hit it, I thought I holed it. Maybe it ran out of speed and died left. These things are meant to be.

Baek was disappointed he failed to close the deal, conceding the pressure of leading got to him. “I got tired and felt under pressure since number 15. “I couldn’t hit my ball properly,” said the Thai-based Baek, who gave Pariya a big hug after the latter holed out.

“I was leading by one and I don’t know how I shanked my ball (on the 16th hole). I made double and it was still alright. But on 17, I just couldn’t hit the ball because my legs were shaking.”

Leading final round scores
275 – Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA) 66-68-71-70
276 – Anirban Lahiri (IND) 73-68-67-68
277 – Namchok Tantipokhakul (THA) 72-74-66-65, Baek Seuk-hyun (KOR) 67-68-71-71
279 – Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 70-72-70-67
280 – Scott Hend (AUS) 70-73-70-67, Peter Richardson (ENG) 69-73-69-69, Wade Ormsby (AUS) 68-70-72-70, Gavin Kyle Green am (MAS) 68-69-70-73
281 – Marcus Both (AUS) 73-69-70-69.
282 – Adilson Da Silva (BRA) 74-70-70-68
283 – Javi Colomo (ESP) 74-68-71-70, Stephen Lewton (ENG) 73-70-68-72, Thanyakon Khrongpha (THA) 75-67-67-74