Bangkok, August 14: Australian Andre Stolz secured his second victory of the season on OneAsia when he triumphed in the US$1million 2011 Thailand Open after an enthralling head to head battle with Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng on Sunday.
Stolz, who won the season opening US$1million Indonesia PGA Championship in March, fired a final round nine-under-par 63 to beat Prayad by two shots at Suwan Golf and Country Club.
The Australian had started the day three behind overnight leader Prayad but stormed through with nine birdies including six on the front side. He finished with a four-round aggregate of 22-under-par 266.
Prayad, bidding to become only the third Thai to win his national Open, closed with a 68. It was also an impressive round made up of five birdies with the only blemish being a bogey on par-five 18th, where he found water with his third.
“I hit a lot of great shots early on and obviously Prayad and I were battling each other – it was great fun. I knew I had to get a fast start and he comes out making birdies as well. The heat knocked me about and I battled the last four or five holes and hit a lot of horrible shots,” said Stolz.
The US$180,000 winners’ cheque allowed him to overtake Korean Kim Kyung-tae at the top of the OneAsia Order of Merit. He has now earned US$433,125 from six events.
The two combatants were tied on 21 under par after 14 holes but a brilliant 30 foot right to left birdie putt on 15 by Stolz proved to be crucial. Prayad just missed a shorter birdie putt.
The 45-year-old Thai had a golden opportunity to draw level on 17 but his eight foot birdie putt just missed.
“I have a motto which I tell my kids – ‘You have got to do what is required’. And that was in my mind today. When I walked off the first green today I knew it was going to be a shoot-out. You get days that are crazy like that. The way I am playing at the moment I feel I can win every event I play. I have only played badly on about five days in the last year. I changed back to the short putter (from the long one) after the Nanshan China Masters in June,” added Stolz.
The victory is the continuation of a remarkable comeback story for Stolz. He came out of retirement just two and a half years ago after a nagging wrist injury had kept him put of the game for nearly three years. He was one of his country’s finest players having claimed a title each on the US PGA Tour, Nationwide Tour, and Japan Tour plus four victories times on the PGA Tour of Australasia.
Korean’s Choi Jin-ho and Australian Brent McCullough tied for third on 17 under par.