Hanoi, November 14: Namchok Tantipokhakul completed the finest season of his fledgling career today by winning the US$80,000 Mercedes-Benz Masters Vietnam and securing the Mercedes-Benz Tour Order of Merit title.
The 22 year old Thai fired a final round one-over-par 73 to finish one stroke ahead of compatriot Pavit Tangkamolprasert. Pavit came in with a 67 at Kings’ Island Golf Club, north of Hanoi.
Namchok finished with a four-round-aggregate of 16-under-par 272 and earned a cheque for US$13,000.
The tournament was the season-ending Tour Championship on the Mercedes-Benz Tour – a circuit which was launched to nurture young stars of the future like Namchok.
The stocky big-hitting Namchok started the day with a three stroke lead and was always in control of the tournament until the closing holes when he kept the crowd guessing with a succession of dropped shots.
He bogeyed the final three holes and had been in real trouble on the par-four 18th when he found a bad lie in a bunker with his second shot. He just managed to get the ball out and then bravely chipped to within a foot to take the title.
“It was very cold today and I picked up a bad cough so I really did not feel well. I am very relieved and very happy to win. It has been a great year and my confidence is very high,” said Namchok.
He carded four birdies and five bogeys which was in stark contrast to his opening rounds of 67, 65 and 67.
“I felt relaxed all week but it is not easy to win a tournament even if you are playing well. It does take something extra and I have learned that this year,” added Namchok.
He also won the B-ing Championship on home soil this season on the Mercedes-Benz Tour and finished the year with earnings of US$27,540 from eight events.
With a sizeable first place cheque on offer this week he could have been overtaken at the top of the Merit list but he produced the perfect solution by winning the tournament.
Thailand’s Kwanchai Tannin, who finished joint third in Vietnam, ended in second place on the Merit list with winnings of US$17,225.
Kwanchai, winner of the previous event the Mercedes-Benz Masters Indonesia, carded a 72 to finish five behind the winner along with countryman Atthaphon Prathumanee and Filipino Felix Casas.
Atthaphon came in with a 71 while Casas shot 69.
Leading final round scores:
272 – Namchok TANTIPOKAKUL (THA) 67 65 67 73
273 – Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 70 68 68 67
277 – Felix CASAS (PHL) 68 71 69 69, Atthaphon PRATHUMMANEE (THA) 70 68 68 71,
Kwanchai TANNIN (THA) 70 67 68 72
278 – Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 67 66 72 73
279 – Natthawut PHIANSAMRIT (THA) 67 70 71 71
280 – Mohd Rashid ISMAIL (MAS) 70 70 75 65, M SASIDARAN (MAS) 69 70 70 71
281 – Ronnachai JAMNONG (THA) 69 70 72 70
282 – Ferdie AUNZO (PHL) 73 70 70 69, Mohd Shaaban HUSSIN (MAS) 71 70 71 70
283 – Marvin DUMANDAN (PHL) 70 72 72 69, Chaiput DARAPANICH (THA) 71 72 71 69, Quincy QUEK (SIN) 68 69 76 70, Nakul VICHITRYUTHASASTR (THA) 69 69 74 71, Annop TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 70 71 70 72, Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) 69 70 70 74