Date: March 18, 2013
Author: Golf Australia

Strange, Cullen finish in top 3 in Thailand

Australians Scott Strange and Nick Cullen fell just short of champion Prayad Marksaeng who ended a near decade-long drought by home players and became only the third Thai to win their national championship with a two-stroke victory in OneAsia&aposs U.S. $1 million Thailand Open at Thana City Golf & Sports Club on Sunday. Prayad had rounds of 68, 67, 65 and 64 for a 24 under-par total of 264, to claim the winner&aposs purse of $180,000 and the coveted King&aposs Trophy, donated by the country&aposs revered monarch. “This means so much to me,” an emotional Prayad said moments after signing his scorecard. “Yes I cried a bit I am happy the King&aposs Trophy will stay in Thailand.” Urged on by his fellow professionals, Prayad took a celebratory jump into the lake adjoining the 18th green after the prize presentation. “I have waited so long for this. It is something that I have dreamed about, but I have tried so many times and failed. This time it was my turn. I am so happy,” he said. Scott Strange (67) pushed Prayad all the way, but a bogey on the last left him two strokes adrift. Countryman Nick Cullen (65) was a shot further behind while six players shared fourth place — including defending champion Chris Wood (70). Overnight leader Lucas Lee of Brazil struggled to get his round together and had to settle for a share of 12th after carding a 73, while three-time major winner Padraig Harrington (66) couldn&apost recover from a disastrous third-round 75 and finished at 14 under. Despite producing a generation of some of Asia&aposs finest golfers, only two Thais have won the national open — Suthep Meesawat (1991) and Boonchu Ruangkit (1992, 2004). Two shots off the pace overnight and starting in the second last group of the day, Prayad, 47, had an early inkling the planets were correctly aligned with a birdie-birdie-birdie start — although a bogey on the easy par-five fifth briefly halted his progression. Four birdies in-a-row straddling the turn put him back in the driver&aposs seat, and an audacious chip-in birdie from the fringe on the 16th meant the chasing pack had it all to do. Strange, winner of OneAsia&aposs Order of Merit in 2009 on the back of victory at the Volvo China Open, went bogey-free until the last, while Cullen was pleased with his effort for a top-three finish. “I gave myself every chance, but it just wasn&apost to be. Look, I&aposm not too unhappy,” said Strange. “I&aposll 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.” “I had a few problems with my back earlier in the week but today felt great,” said Cullen, a hot favourite now for the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia PGA Championship in two weeks time at Emeralda Golf Club, where he won the Indonesia Open title a year ago. The Thailand Open and Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia PGA Championship are both co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the Japan Golf Tour Organisation, meaning this victory is Prayad&aposs fourth Japan Tour success. He has also won six times on the Asian Tour and came into the tournament as one of the form players after winning the Singha Esan Open on the ASEAN PGA Tour in February.