Sunday, 27 March 2005
Thaworn Wiratchant became only the second Thai golfer to win on The European Tour International Schedule when he captured the Enjoy Jakarta Standard Chartered Indonesia Open after holding off the challenges of the chasing pack, notably from Colin Montgomerie who came agonisingly close to the first sub-60 round.

Wiratchant posted his third 63 of the week for a 25 under par total of 255, the lowest 72 hole aggregate in the history of The European Tour although preferred lies were in operation.

That earned the Thai golfer a five stroke winning margin over Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin, who carded a 65, with Australian Adam Fraser a further shot back after a 62.

Montgomerie, who needed to win to be sure of a return to the World Top 50 and earn an invitation to the Masters Tournament, shot a final round 60 for joint fourth place with Filipino Frankie Minoza but it could easily have been a magical 59. There have been 11 official rounds of 60 on The European Tour.

The Scot had a ten foot putt on the closing hole of his final round to better that but left it several inches short of the cup. The 41 year old had to settle for a 60 and 18 under par total of 262, although his nine birdies in a row from the 17th - having started from the 10th - created a new European Tour record.

Ironically Montgomerie had earlier eagled the par five ninth to complete his delayed third round, but at the second time of asking drove into the rough and was unable to reach the green in two.

"I had a golden opportunity," Montgomerie admitted. "I hit my sand wedge in there to about ten foot but the grain grabbed the ball and didn't really roll the way the other putts had.

"It all comes down to the last hole but you forget about what happened midway through the round and I was going nowhere.

"I don't know what I took on the 15th tee but I want more of it."

It was a week of incredible low scoring round the par 70 Cengkareng Golf Club in Jakarta. Wiratchant’s first two rounds of 63 gave him a 36 hole total of 126, the third lowest 36 hole aggregate in European Tour history, just one stoke outside the record. His 72 hole aggregate of 255 would have been a new record but preferred lies came into operation for the last two rounds.

Nevertheless, three 63’s in a 72 hole tournament is impressive scoring worthy of victory and earned him €125,205 in the event jointly sanctioned by The European Tour and the Asian Tour. It was his fifth Asian Tour title and first on The European Tour.

Wiratchant triumphed after a marathon final day. He returned early in the morning, playing his remaining nine holes in three under par to complete his third round in 66. After a quick break, he went out and finished the job in style, shooting eight more birdies against a bogey for his third 63 of the week.

"Winning a co-sanctioned event has been on my mind. I've been trying for a while and my dream has now become a reality," said Wiratchant, who joins Thongchai Jaidee as the only Thai winners on the European Tour.

"The weather disruptions earlier this week made it hard for us but I just tried to ignore it. I concentrated on every shot and if I had missed a shot, I didn't let it bother me. I had a good feeling this week and felt I could take this tournament."

The 36-year-old Wiratchant entered the last round with a three shot lead but kept his nose ahead with an outward 33. When the birdies dried out for Jacquelin on the back nine, Wiratchant coasted home, finishing off in style on the 18th with an 15 foot birdie.

"I saw the leaderboard on the 13th and knew that Raphael was three back. I then knocked in a 20 foot putt for birdie and that gave me a good cushion. I knew it would be safe," said the Thai, who plans to use his winnings to build a house.

Jacquelin, who got within one stroke of Wiratchant on the 11th, finished five strokes back after a final round of 65, following two 64s and a 66 in the earlier rounds, It nevertheless equaled his best finish on The European Tour International Schedule and earned him €83,472.

Afterwards, he paid tribute to the winner, whom he had played with in the opening two rounds. "20 under is always a good week. But I would have preferred to win but the guy in front is playing very well. I played with Thaworn in the first two days and he is playing very well. He made many putts and he was looking very confident on the short game and that's why he's on top of the leaderboard," said Jacquelin.

Fraser, looking to join his brother Marcus as a winner in Europe, achieved his best result yet on Tour thanks to a glorious finish. He turned in five under and then aced the 17th with an eight iron before finishing with a birdie on 18 which gave him sole third place.

"That was special. Slam dunked the 17th with an eight iron. Just hit it perfectly," said Fraser, who won a Peugeot 307 car on offer. "I'm going to take a lot from this. It's been good."

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