Golf: Donaldson wins Thailand Golf Championship, bags Open spot
- Updated: December 13, 2015
December 13, 2015: Jamie Donaldson wrapped up his season in perfect style by closing with a seven-under-par 65 to win the Thailand Golf Championship by three strokes from Lee Westwood and Clement Sordet.
Donaldson, who had not tasted victory this year before his triumph at the Amata Spring Country Club, ensured he would not end the year on a winless note when he compiled a winning total of 21-under-par 267.
Sordet’s magical run at the Amata Spring Country Club ended with a 70 to share the runner-up spot with Westwood (67), the former World No. 1.
The trio and Thai teen Phachara Khongwatmai (66), who finished sixth, won the four spots available in next year’s Open Championship.
Spanish legend Sergio Garcia (69) and young Korean Ben An Hyeong-bun (70), who will be making his debut at next month’s EurAsia Cup in Malaysia, shared fourth place on 274, but had already booked their Open spots.
Donaldson showed his resolve in regaining the lead he lost to Sordet on the third day when he came out strongly with three straight birdies. Playing alongside Westwood and Sordet, the Welshman continued his charge with further birdies on seven and eight before dropping a shot on nine to turn in 32.
After making another three birdies on 10, 12 and 15, Donaldson appeared to be cruising towards the title until a bogey on 16 saw his three-shot lead reduced to just one with both his playing partners making birdies on the same hole.
“I had a great birdie on 15 after hitting two very good shots before sinking a 20-footer putt. I pushed my tee shot a little bit on the 16 and it went to the back left pin,” Donaldson said.
“The two of them played some great shots and both of them birdied. My comfortable three-shot lead was reduced to one after 16 and with 17 and 18 coming up, I just had to remain calm and keep hitting good shots.”
Donaldson recovered brilliantly with another birdie on 17 and with Westwood and Sordet making a par and bogey respectively on the closing 18, it was left to the 40-year-old to drain an easy par putt for victory.
“This is certainly one of my best victories. There are a lot of good players playing in the tournament this week. The field is very strong and to beat these guys is great,” said Donaldson.
While it was not the fairy tale ending that Sordet had hoped for, the 23-year-old was still elated with his finish at the Thailand Golf Championship.
“I really didn’t expect such a result this week. I was really fortunate to get an invite as I was not supposed to play here and it’s great to finish tied-second. My caddie told me not to think too much about the score and just go and enjoy my golf today. You could see lots of our smiling faces on the course today,” said Sordet.
Westwood is delighted to be heading back to the world’s oldest Major next year courtesy of his tied-second finish at the Thai showpiece.
“It’s great to be have made it into The Open,” said Westwood. “I’ve played every one since 1995 so it’s great to keep that run going. It’s been 21 years now and I’ve not missed one, so I’m happy.”
The Thailand Golf Championship is part of The Open Qualifying Series (OQS) where four places will be up for grabs to the leading four players who have not already qualified for the 2016 Open Championship.
Thailand Golf Championship (Asian Tour), Amata Spring GCC, Thailand
267 – Jamie DONALDSON (WAL) 63-68-71-65.
270 – Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 71-68-64-67, Clement SORDET (FRA) 71-66-63-70.
274 – Sergio GARCIA (ESP) 66-69-70-69, Byeonghun AN (KOR) 69-67-68-70.
275 – Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 68-71-70-66.
276 – S.S.P CHAWRASIA (IND) 72-69-68-67, Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 69-72-67-68, Martin KAYMER (GER) 68-65-72-71.
277 – Sunghoon KANG (KOR) 70-68-70-69.
280 – Bubba WATSON (USA) 71-70-72-67
284 – Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 73-67-72-72
Source: Asian Tour (www.asiantour.com); Editing by SportAsia