In a rousing finish fit for the theatre, Thailand’s Thanadol Sangkoranee emerged as the Boys’ U21 winner of Cambodia’s leg of the Faldo Series Asia at Siem Reap’s Angkor Golf Resort yesterday. After ending the second round in a statistical tie at 142 with Nick Ang Xi Ee of Malayisa, Thanadol was awarded the win on the strength of his better score on the day over 18 holes.
From the moment the Thai stepped out yesterday morning in the company of compatriot Sitipong Wiangchanok and overnight leader Xi Ee, it was a three-way contest for supremacy. While Sittipong began to dawdle midway, Xi Ee and Thanadol were battling every yard of the course.
The climactic 18th hole saw unbearable drama as Xi Ee’s hopes of an outright win were buried in a bogey even as Thanadol produced an amazing approach shot from the fairway to set up a birdie and finish the hole with aplomb.
The figures told the truth and conveyed the emotions far better. Xi Ee’s 70 and 72 counted the same as Thanadol’s 72 and 70, but it was the Thai aggressor’s two-under-par second round effort which clinched the deal. Xi Ee’s two birdies on the 13th and 14th cancelled out his bogeys on the third and 18th. Thanadol on the other hand birdied the 8th, 10th, 16th and 18th holes, while overdoing the 11th and the 17th.
It could not have been much closer in the Boys’ U16 event, which was won by first round leader Kim Dong Hyun, who shot a fiery 67 yesterday for an overall 139. But the South Korean had to do everything in his power to hold at bay a spectacular surge by Thailand’s Nitihorn Thippong, who tantalisingly produced a matching 67 to go down by one stroke, having gone round in one-over-par on Tuesday.
While Kim reeled off seven birdies to soften two bogey blows, the Thai challenger conjured a magical eagle on the par-five 16th to add to his four birdies. His only blemish came from a 10th hole bogey.
As was widely expected, Asha Lakshme Balakrishnan took the honours in the Girls’ U21 class with an impressive one-under-par 71 for a 144 total, finishing well ahead of her compatriot Celine Lim Shwu Ling (153). The Malaysian winner had the honour of firing the tournament’s first eagle on the opening day when she landed the prized bird on the par-five 13th.
All the three winners – Thanadol, Kim and Balakrishnan – were awarded the Faldo Series Asia passage certificates to the Asia Grand Final, which will be held at the Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzen, China, next March.
Cambodia’s only participant, Seng Vanseiha, who put up a vastly improved performance in the Boys’ U21 second round with a 74 for an overall 153, may have been disappointed with himself, but he had reasons to be happy at the end of it all.
The Faldo Series Asia presented Seng Vanseiha a special invite to participate in the Asia Grand Final in line with Sir Nick Faldo’s stated principle of having a competitor from every country in China.
Meanwhile, the Angkor Golf Resort extended an invitation to the Boys’ U16 winner Kim Dong Hyun to participate in next year’s Angkor Amateur Open.
It was a walk in the park for Malaysia’s Ng Yu Kai, victor in the U12 category which was played under the Stableford format. The winner accounted for 34 points in the second round for a total of 61. Paqo Barro of the Phillipines was a long way behind in second among just four competitors.
The Chief Executive officer of the Faldo Series, Tom Phillips, hailed the Cambodian leg as a grand success and praised the organisational excellence of the Angkor Golf Resort management. “I am confident that this event will improve year on year and will help more and more Cambodian children to access the game,” he said.
Away from the competition, a grass-roots golf clinic for students from the International School of Siem Reap was conducted by Roger Hunt, official referee for the two-day event and an advisor to the Cambodian Golf Federation. The AGR General Manager Adam Robertson confirmed to the Post that such grass-roots clinics will be held on a regular basis.