Thai golfer Thitiphun wins Bangladesh Open

Dhaka, Feb 13 (IANS) Thai golfer Thitiphun Chuayprakong cruised to his maiden Asian Tour win when he closed with a four-under-par 67 to secure a two-shot victory at the $300,000 Bangladesh Open here on Saturday.

The 23-year-old, who held a three-shot lead heading into the final round, kept his composure to return with a round of five birdies against a lone bogey for a winning total of 21-under-par 263 at the Kurmitola Golf Club.

Countryman Sutijet Kooratanapisan surmounted a strong final day charge with a 66 but was not enough to pip Thitiphun to the win as he settled for second place, marking his best finish on the region’s premier Tour.

India’s Shubhankar Sharma signed for a splendid 65 to take third place on his own on 270 while compatriot Chikkarangappa S. (73) shared fourth with Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand (68) on 272.

Shakhawat Sohel emerged as the highest-placed Bangladeshi for the second consecutive year here after closing a 68 to take sixth place on 273.

Thitiphun showed he is the man for the big occasion when he hit his pinpoint approach shot from about 150 yards in the rough to six feet from the pin before taking two putts to par the par-four 18 for his breakthrough victory.

“I have been waiting for this win for a very long time. I have worked really hard for this. I practiced with Sutijet a lot back home and we are very good friends. I knew he will play good today and he did. I guess I am lucky,” said Thitiphun, who pocketed $54,000 courtesy his win.

“I got a bit excited on the last hole because Sutijet birdied 17 and I only had a one shot lead but I just tried my best. When I hit my tee shot into the rough, I thought I should just hit it closer to the pin first. I managed to do that. My short game was what helped me to win this week.”

Sharma credited his hot putter for a commendable bogey-free round highlighted by six birdies and a best finish on the Asian Tour.

“I started very well. I birdied the first two holes. That made a lot of difference. I was able to ride on my momentum from there. I missed some opportunities for birdies out there but it’s alright. I played really well, especially on my back nine. I wasn’t in the mix so I didn’t think I had a chance. I just wanted to play my best,” said the 19-year-old Indian, who amassed 25 putts.

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