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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thongchai blazes to first place in Cambodian Open

Thongchai blazes to first place in Cambodian Open

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The Thai takes his second consecutive win in Southeast Asia after claiming victory last week in the Hana Bank Vietnam Masters, ending a two-year drought

Asian Tour

Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open winner Thongchai Jaidee in Siem Reap.

SIEM REAP - Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee made it two straight wins in a row when he claimed victory at the US$300,000 Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open and immediately dedicated these victories to his newborn son.

Thongchai, who welcomed the arrival of his second child just nine days ago, produced another superb round of six-under-par 66 for a 24-under-par 264 total to end his Cambodian campaign six shots ahead of closest rival, Lam Chih Bing of Singapore.

Lam produced his best finish of his career so far when he signed off with a 65 for a 270 total to take second place ahead of Thailand's Chawalit Plaphol, who was two shots back on 272.

Wales's rookie Rhys Davies and Anthony Kang of the United States took a share of fourth place when they returned with matching 274s.

Seven days earlier in Ho Chi Minh city, Thongchai ended his two-year title drought with a win at the Hana Bank Vietnam Masters.

The Thai has now gone on to claim back-to-back titles in IndoChina with another classic display of golf at the Phokeethra Country Club.  

"My son was born on a very good day, and I believe he has given me all the luck," said Thongchai who has affectionately named his son Kittituch.

"It was definitely a sign of good things to come, starting with my win in Vietnam last week," he added.  

Beginning the day five shots clear of Kang, who was in tied-second place, then Thongchai started off nervously with an opening bogey.

MY SON WAS BORN ON A VERY GOOD DAY AND I BELIEVE HE HAS GIVEN ME ALL THE LUCK ... IT WAS DEFINITELY A SIGN OF GOOD THINGS TO COME.

But he quickly made up for that with three birdies on the third, fourth and ninth holes to reach the turn in 34.

With three successive birdies on the 10th, 11th and 12th straight after the turn and two more on the 14th and 16th, the crowd that had gathered at the Phokeethra Country for this full-field Asian Tour event, were soon beginning to ask how many shots the Thai was going to win the tournament by.
"I played really well all week. I only had four bogeys throughout the four rounds, and I know that my game is all coming back now," said Thongchai.

"I'm really happy and this win goes out to my son."

Leading Final Round

264

Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 68-66-64-66

270

Lam Chih Bing (SIN) 73-65-67-65

272

Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 67-66-72-67

274

Rhys Davies (WAL) 64-75-67-68,

Anthony Kang (USA) 65-69-69-71

275

Juvic Pagunsan (Phi) 70-69-68-68,

Park Jae-bum (KOR) 68-67-71-69

276

Iain Steel (MAS) 74-65-68-69,

Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 68-70-69-69,

Steven Tiley (ENG) 70-66-69-71

277

Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 71-72-70-64,

Jason King (AUS) 69-71-70-67,

Guido Van Der Valk (NED) 71-67-68-71

278

Gavin Flint (AUS) 68-71-72-67,

Baaz Mann (IND) 72-65-72-69,

Unho Park (AUS) 72-67-69-70,

Corey Harris (USA) 69-65-69-75

Victory was worth US$47,550 and it also meant that Thongchai has now matched his fellow compatriot Thaworn Wiratchant's Asian Tour record of 10 victories.

After Thongchai had surged into an unassailable lead, all eyes were soon turned to the battle for second place.  

Lam knew that it was always going to be an uphill task to close in on Thongchai.

However, the Singaporean, who started the day tied for fourth, continued to put up a strong challenge when he fired four birdies against two bogeys in his opening front-nine to make the turn in 34.

After reeling in two more birdies on the 13th and 14th, Lam overtook Kang and moved up to second place.

Lam pared his 15th and 16th holes but followed that up strongly with two closing birdies on the 17th and 18th to seal the runner-up spot.  

"This is definitely the best finish of my career. I really felt very good when I birdied both 17th and 18th as I knew Chawalit was trailing very closely behind," said Lam.

"I came out this year trying to get my card, but I think I've achieved a little more than that, and I'm just very happy with the way things are going for me now," added the Singaporean.

With the battle to finish in the top-65 of the Asian Tour Order of Merit also taking center stage this week, India's Gaganjeet Bhullar was a visibly relieved and happy man when he finished in tied-11th, to also take the prized 65th place on the ranking.    

After Australia's Neven Basic, who was 65th on the ranking at the start of the week, missed the weekend cut, it was down to the wire between Bhullar and Australia's Adam Groom who were in 67th and 66th place, respectively.

Trailing three shots behind Groom at the start of the day, Bhullar knew that he had to play the game of his life in order to overtake Groom and avoid going back to qualifying school again next month.

"Before coming over, I was really very tense. There was just so much mental pressure, especially having missed the cut in Vietnam last week. I did a lot of yoga and that has really helped me a lot," said Bhullar who went on to produce one of his best performances by carding the day's best score of 64.

"The motivation of making it into the top 65 really kept me alive and I'm just so happy," added the Indian, who has now retained his full playing rights for the 2009 Asian Tour season.

Bhullar will also be heading to Bangkok next week where an elite field of the top 65 players from the Asian Tour Order of Merit will be battling it out for the US$750,000 tournament that will bring the year to a thrilling conclusion on the Asian Tour.

The Cambodian Open was hosted by Siem Reap's Phokeethra Country Club, which is ranked among the top five of the Best New Courses in Asia by Asian Golf Monthly and also is ranked as the Top Investment by TTG Magazine

REPORTING BY THE ASIAN TOUR

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