Date: August 25, 2008

Brunei Open glory for Kulacz

Australian rookie Rick Kulacz holed a stunning bunker shot to edge out Chinese Taipei&aposs Lu Wen-teh in a play-off and win the Brunei Open on Sunday. Kulacz, the 2001 world junior champion, captured his maiden Asian Tour title after he and Lu were left tied on 13-under after 72 holes at Empire Hotel and Country Club. At the first hole of the sudden-death play-off, both players found the greenside bunker at the par-four 18th but, after Lu chipped out to five feet, Kulacz holed to claim the victory. Overnight leader Kulacz, 23, overcame a double-bogey on his first hole to record a one-under-par 70, while Lu forced the play-off with a final round of 67 which included six birdies. Kulacz had a chance to win in regulation but missed a 15-foot birdie attempt on the 18th hole. “It feels pretty good. I couldn&apost get too far ahead of myself,” said Kulacz. “I was saying in the morning that if nothing goes well early in the day, you can&apost give up. I just hung in there and started to feel more confident coming down the stretch which was surprising.” “I&aposve been hitting into bunkers all week and I finally found one that was sitting up perfectly. It was the easiest shot. I just had to splash it out and hope for the best. I&aposve never been that excited.” “This win takes the pressure off as I can pick and choose my events. It&aposs a huge weight off my career as I was well down the Order of Merit.” Kulacz earns a two-year exemption on the Asian Tour and a start at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai in November. Thailand&aposs Somkiat Srisanga (68) and American Anthony Kang (67), who both held the lead on the back nine of the final round, shared third place on 12-under. “I hit a good bunker shot in the play-off but didn&apost have the luck. Rick had the luck with him,” said 45-year-old Lu. “I felt I had a chance to win on the back nine after I made birdies on the 15th and 17th holes and I was playing well coming in. The winds were quite swirly and my approach in the play-off just carried into the bunker.” Inaugural Brunei Open champion Terry Pilkadaris of Australia, compatriot Andrew Dodt and Thailand&aposs Thaworn Wiratchant shared fifth place at 11-under with Malaysia&aposs Iain Steel a further shot adrift. Final scores from the Brunei Open -13: Rick Kulacz (Australia)* 68 66 67 70, Lu WenTeh (Chinese Taipei) 70 65 69 67 -12: Anthony Kang (USA) 68 68 69 67, Somkiat Srisanga (Thailand) 64 70 70 68 -11: Terry Pilkadaris (Australia) 65 67 74 67, Andrew Dodt (Australia) 66 72 66 69, Thaworn Wiratchant (Thailand) 67 69 66 71 -10: Iain Steel (Malaysia) 69 70 67 68 -9: Jason King (Australia) 69 69 72 65, Chinnarat Phadungsil (Thailand) 70 69 69 67, Simon Dunn (Scotland) 70 69 69 67, David Gleeson (Australia) 69 70 67 69, Scott Hend (Australia) 69 65 71 70, Mitchell Brown (Australia) 69 70 66 70, Ted Oh (KOR) 65 66 71 73 -8: Marcus Both (Australia) 68 68 71 69, Atthaphon Prathummanee (Thailand) 69 69 69 69, Wang Terchang (Chinese Taipei) 69 68 69 70, Adam Blyth (Australia) 67 74 65 70, Darren Beck (Australia) 69 70 67 70, Juvic Pagunsan (Philippines) 72 69 65 70, Chang Tsepeng (Chinese Taipei) 69 67 69 71 *won in a play-off