Prayad makes a splash with Thailand Open win
REUTERS - Prayad Marksaeng ended Thailand's nine-year wait for a local golfer's victory in their national championship on Sunday before celebrating it by jumping into the lake adjoining the 18th hole.
Trailing overnight leader Lucas Lee of Brazil by three shots, the 47-year-old Thai signed off with a sparkling eight-under-par 64 at the Thana City Golf & Sports Club to win the Thailand Open title at 24 under-par 264.
Australian Scott Strange (67) pushed Prayad but finished two strokes behind while his countryman Nick Cullen (65) ended a shot further back at third in the event co-sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour Organisation and OneAsia.
Last year's winner Chris Wood (70) of England was among the six players who finished tied fourth. Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington (66) finished with a 14-under aggregate.
"This means so much to me," an emotional Prayad said after claiming the winner's cheque of $180,000 and the King's Trophy.
"Yes I cried a bit... I am happy the King's Trophy will stay in Thailand," said Prayad, who became only the third Thai to win the tournament after Boonchu Ruangkit (2004, 1992) and Suthep Meesawat (1991).
"I have waited so long for this. It is something that I have dreamed about, but I have tried so many times and failed," said Prayad, after taking a celebratory plunge in the lake close to the 18th hole.
"This time it was my turn. I am so happy," said the Thai whose final round was studded with nine birdies as against the single bogey on the fifth hole.
Strange kept the pressure on until the end but the bogey on the last hole dashed his hopes.
"I gave myself every chance, but it just wasn't to be," he said. "I'm not too unhappy. I'll get over the disappointment but I feel my game has come together and just a putt here or there and it could have been completely different."
Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant and South Koreans Kim Do-hoon and Hwang Jun-gon equalled the course record of nine-under par 63 on another low-scoring day at the Greg Norman-designed course.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)
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