Carmona | November 23, 2015
Thai rookie Natipong Srithong charged back from three strokes down in the last nine holes to snatch the rich Resorts World Manila Masters crown, putting on a scorching finish to edge South African Jbe Kruger by one on a five-under 67 at the Manila Southwoods’ Masters course here yesterday.
Srithong bucked overwhelming odds just to wheel back into contention, including erstwhile leader Hung Chien-yao’s ace on No. 13, and pulled through in a nerve-wracking stretch by drilling clutch birdies, including a big two-shot swing on No. 17, before watching his rivals waver at the finish before a big gallery.
With his earlier 71, 69 and 66, Srithong pooled a 15-under 273 and pocket the top $180,000 purse in the country’s richest golf championship hosted by the Manila Southwoods.
A flight ahead of the championship group but three off Kruger, Srithong worked his back from a bogey mishap on No. 2 with birdies on Nos. 6, 7 and 9 then closed to within as Kruger fumbled with a double-bogey on No. 10. He tied the South African with another birdie on No. 15 then struck for the decisive birdie on No. 17 which Kruger bogeyed to wrest control.
Not even Kruger’s birdie on the 18th could force a playoff as Srithong holed out with a routine two-putt par to clinch the victory. Kruger ended up with a 71 for a 274 worth $110,000.
Hung Chien-yao, who surged ahead by one after 54 holes, fell off the leaderboard with a slew of bogeys at the front for a 39 but bounced back with a hole-in-one on No. 13 and birdies on Nos. 15 and 16, only to drop two strokes on the par-5 closing hole and lost by two with a 73 and a 275. He settled for joint third with compatriot Lee Chieh-po, who closed out with a 70.
Angelo Que failed to sustain a fiery 66 Saturday and ended up with a 72, joining Miguel Tabuena, who shot a 70, at 18th at 280 for the Philippines’ best finish in the 72-hole championship, the fourth to last leg of this year’s Asian Tour. Each got $10,935.
He competes in Japan next week then plays in Vietnam next before heading the locals’ bid in the Philippine Open at the Luisita Golf Club in Tarlac next month.
Tabuena, meanwhile, rued his decision to attack and go for birdies though he hit four against two bogeys.