Lin Wen-tang hit a clutch birdie on No. 17 to card a 73 then watched Thai Thammanoon Sriroj self-destruct with a closing bogey to snatch the hotly-disputed Solaire Open crown with a one stroke victory at Wack Wack’s East course recently.
The Taiwanese ace survived a thrilling final round shootout in sweltering heat to clinch the championship that was up for grabs until the final hole when Sriroj, needing a par to force a playoff, flubbed from six feet to settle with a 73 and hand the victory to Lin.
“I was very lucky in the last two holes,” said Lin, who buried a 12-foot par putt on the 18th to win the top $54,000 purse with a three-under 285 aggregate.
Canadian Richard Lee actually also had a crack at the crown three flights ahead of the final group but like Sriroj bogeyed the 72nd hole and made a 69. Lee and Sriroj ended up tied for second with a 286.
Korean Wang Jeung-hun fired a 71 to finish solo fourth at 287 while Elmer Salvador emerged the best Filipino placer at fifth with an even 288 despite a two-over 74.
The soft-spoken Salvador birdied No. 2 to press his bid but failed to gain headway with missed birdie opportunities before bowing out of the race with a bogey on No. 14 and a double-bogey on the par-3 16th.
Mars Pucay shot a 71 while Miguel Tabuena matched par 72 to share sixth place with Thai Gunn Charoenkul and Aussie Unho Park, who both had 73s for 289s.
Lin actually also headed for a shaky finish when he hit his drive on No. 17 into the trees. But instead of playing out, he hacked it out over the trees and into the green, some 25 feet away from the cup.
He then made the putt for birdie and a share of the lead with Sriroj.
With pressure mounting, Lin again drove into the trees on the final hole but this time opted to play out only to hit another tree and into a stymied lie.
He pulled out 9-iron and punched from 132 yards, the ball landing just before the green and rolling to within 12 feet, setting up the winning par.
Sriroj and Lee took home $25,950 each while Wang earned $15,000.
Salvador took home $12,300 while Pucay and Tabuena each got $8,077.
“I played well this week especially with the expectations I had. I’m very proud of myself. It was a good tournament for me and definitely a very good experience. I managed to hang in there today,” said Tabuena.
Lin entered the final day protecting a one-stroke lead over Sriroj, and said it wasn’t easy for him as well.
“I told myself yesterday that if God loves me he will let me win. I’m really glad I did it. The last two holes were really exciting and I can’t believe it until now,” said Lin.
The event was sponsored by the Solaire Resorts and Casino and supported by the Department of Tourism, Hyundai, Pru Life UK, Nescafé Dolce Gusto and Omega. Other backers are Holiday Inn Manila Galleria, Johnnie Walker, Asahi Super Dry, Srixon, Panasonic, Canon, and PepsiCo.(pr)