Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, December 25: Thai hotshot Danthai Boonma held off a battling compatriot Jazz Janewattananond on the fourth play-off hole to win his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) title at the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship on Sunday.
Danthai, a one-time Asian Tour winner, matched his opening efforts of a six-under-par 65 to end his campaign tied on 15-under-par 269 alongside Jazz (64) before the title was decided in extra time on the par-four 18th hole at the Rancho Charnvee Resorts and Country Club.
The leading duo shot matching pars on the first two play-off holes and birdied the third before Danthai prevailed over Jazz with a par against a bogey on the fourth extra hole at the 3,500,000 Baht (approx. US$100,114) event, final leg of the 2016 ADT schedule.
Scotland’s James Byrne closed with a 66 to finish one shot back in third place with Rattanon Wannasrichan (68) and Prom Meesawat, who returned with the day’s best score of a 62, at the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship.
Thai star Thongchai Jaidee missed out on a win to break into the world’s top-50 and qualify for the 2017 Masters tournament as he signed for a 69 to tie in sixth place on 271 alongside countrymen Sutijet Kooratanapisan, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit and Raththee Sirithanakunsak.
Danthai, who fired seven birdies against one bogey, credited his hot putter for winning the ADT event hosted by Thai legend Boonchu Ruangkit for the third time in two years.
He took home the winner’s prize purse of US$17,013 and earned a total of nine Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points thanks to his victory.
“This is amazing. It’s really unbelievable that I have won. I gained confidence early in the round and I think that helped. I didn’t putt well yesterday so I went back to practice. It was better today. I was able to make more birdies from putting,” said the 20-year-old Danthai.
“I stuck to the same game plan during the playoff. I was a little bit nervous but I managed to pull through. It’s an honour to win Boonchu’s event. He is a player whom everyone, especially the Thai players, look up to. It’s a great finish to the season,” Danthai added.
Jazz kept his head up despite missing out on his first ADT win. “I tried my best. I didn’t even think I will be in the play-off today so I have no complaints. I think I just got unlucky on the last play-off hole.
“I needed to chip out to about 10 yards to get over the front bunker but I missed it. It’s still a good finish for me. I can’t wait to go back home and celebrate Christmas now,” said the 21-year-old Jazz.
Thongchai, who needed to win the event to break into the world’s top-50, endured a frustrating day in the office but took pride in his battling performance where he returned with one eagle and three birdies against a double-bogey and one bogey.
The 47-year-old Thai still has a chance to tee up in the first Major of 2017 by being inside top-50 on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) when the rankings are published the week before the Masters Tournament, which will take place from April 6 to 9.
“I made a few mistakes today and I didn’t putt well. With the way I am hitting the ball, I could have easily finish inside top-three. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hole putts this week. The putting was on and off. I drove the ball and hit my irons really good.
“I did my best this week. I have nothing to lose. I will go back and enjoy some time with my family before preparing for the next season. I am looking forward to 2017,” said the three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner.
Johannes Veerman became the third American, following Jonathan Moore in 2011 and Casey O’Toole in 2015, to lift the ADT Order of Merit trophy following the conclusion of the 2016 ADT season at the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship.
With Veerman already secured his card through finishing inside top-62 on the 2016 Asian Tour Order of Merit, the next five leading players on the ADT Merit rankings will earn playing rights on the region’s premier Tour in 2017.
The five graduates are Malaysia’s Gavin Green, Sweden’s Oscar Zetterwall, Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat, Suradit Yongcharoenchai and American John Michael O’Toole, who finished second to sixth respectively on the final ADT Order of Merit.