Unheralded Thai Pavit Tangkamolpraset withstood a furious late finish from India’s Anirban Lahiri to win the US$1.1 million Venetian Macao Open in a play-off on Sunday.
Paying homage to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died on Thursday, Pavit said it was an honour to win in memory of the beloved monarch.
“This trophy, I dedicate it and my life to the king. I bow to the king,” said Pavit. “All the Thai players are sad.
“The king is our inspiration.”
Pavit, 26, shot a flawless seven-under 64 for a 16-under-par total of 268, and was joined by Lahiri after the defending champion birdied the last seven holes to force a play-off.
But Lahiri’s fortunes were crushed when he laid up into a water hazard on the par-five 18th and took bogey, while Pavit completed the victory in style with a birdie.
“I think I am lucky because Anirban put his second shot into the water,” said Pavit. “I was very relaxed in the play-off. My mum and dad texted me and said I had nothing to lose.
“This victory means a lot because I have a two-year exemption on the Asian Tour now. It will give me a lot of confidence.”
Pavit, who turned professional when he was 17 and was the Asian Development Tour order of merit winner in 2014, had only one top 10 finish in 65 starts on the Asian Tour before coming to Macau.
At one stage, Lahiri was five shots behind Pavit and staring at his worst round in his past four years at the Macau Golf Country Club, but the 29-year-old produced one of the best finishes seen on the Asian Tour.
“I had no idea Anirban was making a charge,” Pavit said. “There were no leaderboards and I didn’t see his score until the 18th. My caddie just told me to focus on my game.”
Lahiri had to settle for his third runner-up finish in the past four years to go with a victory in 2014.
He was left to rue the absence of leaderboards with Pavit unaware he was hunting him down.
“That worked against me. I was trying to put pressure on him but I couldn’t because he didn’t know I had caught up with him,” Lahiri said.
“I’ve had to fight my swing all week and been trying to get some momentum going and get some rhythm.
“I rushed the drive on the last and didn’t even think about the hazard being there. It was unfortunate to finish like that.”