Chinese-Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang claimed a magnificent wire-to-wire victory in the Royal’s Cup to secure his second victory on the Asian Tour in the space of three months and fourth in total.
Chan closed with a four-under-par 68 to finish with an impressive winning total of 23-under for a three-shot win over Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana and American Sihwan Kim.
Sadom also returned a 68 while Sihwan fired a 70, in the second event of the season on the Asian Tour.
Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong and Bio Kim from Korea, finished three strokes further back, in a tie for fourth after rounds of 66 and 68 respectively.
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond closed with a 65 in a group of players tied sixth to suggest the 2019 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion is starting to rediscover his best form.
It looked like being a much closer finish to the US$400,000 event when Chan started the day with a one-shot lead over Sihwan before the American drew level with him on 21-under after nine holes.
RIGHT: Andrew Dodt was the best of the Australians in Thailand. PHOTO: Chris Hyde/Getty Images.
But Sihwan bogeyed four in row from the 10th before Chan took control with three birdies on the trot from the 13th to take a commanding five-shot lead.
Sihwan and Sadom both made birdie on the last two holes to draw closer, but it was not enough to stop the impressive Chan, who won the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship in November.
“It has been a great week, claiming the hole in one prize and winning again in Thailand. Amazing,” said Chan, who made a hole in one on the par-three 16th on the second day and won a Toyota Camry 2.5 HEV Premium.
“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much coming into this week. I didn’t play well in Singapore and Saudi. I just focused on my routine, tempo and concentrated on every shot out there. I got off to a good start and that helped a lot. I just kept riding on that good form. That ace kept me going as well. I was able to play my best game out there this week. I think that’s the key. I got my swing back and that led me to win this week.”
Chan has now claimed three titles on the Asian Tour in Thailand as he also won the King’s Cup in 2016 – suggesting an affinity with the country and its Royal family.
“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much coming into this week. I didn’t play well in Singapore and Saudi. I just focused on my routine, tempo and concentrated on every shot out there." - Chan Shih-chang.
“It was a pretty tough stretch [on 10, 11 and 12] there were I missed a three, four and five footers,” said Sihwan, who was also in the final pairing on Sunday at the Blue Canyon event and SMBC Singapore Open before finishing joint fourth and fourth respectively.
“I couldn’t get it going and you have to make those to get the momentum going. That shut my round down but I did well to get it back at the end. I am pretty satisfied overall. I will get some good rest and go at it again next week.”
Sadom won the SMBC Singapore Open last month and was one of the favourites this week but never really got close to the runaway winner.
Said Sadom: “Today it was a tough course for me, it was windy, and I felt a lot of pressure. I feel like when I play in my home country there is a lot of pressure. I tried to only think about my game, just play and be happy and do my best.
“I think everything was good today, it was just my putting that was so-so. The greens are difficult, and I couldn’t commit to my lines, but I think I did my best. I thought I would have a chance to catch up with Chan today, but he was playing too well.”
Andrew Dodt was the best of the Aussie contingent, the Queenslander finishing in a share of 23rd at 11-under.
The Asian Tour heads to the International Series Thailand next week at Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin. The inaugural US$1.5 million event is the first of 10 new International Series of events – a series of upper-tier elite tournaments.