Young Worathon Zeng takes honours in amateur division. HUA HIN (Thailand), May 4 — Jazz Janewattananond held his nerve when it mattered most to hold off a spirited charge by fellow Thai professional Varanyu Rattanaphaibulkij and win the MahaSamutr Masters at Banyan Golf Club on Thursday.
Starting the final round tied for the lead with France’s Lionel Weber, Janewattananond closed with a level-par 72, forcing a sudden-death playoff which he won with a birdie on the first extra hole, becoming the first Thai player to win a MENA Tour event.
Janewattananond broke free early, making three birdies in four holes after opening with a bogey and was able to keep his nose ahead for much of the day, but two bogeys on the back nine prevented him from settling the issue in regulation play.
A good four shots off the pace overnight, Rattanaphaibulkij produced a bogey-free 68, highlighted by an eagle on the par-5, third, but his scintillating final-round charge fell agonisingly short. Judging by the way he played overall, it might just be history deferred.
“Very happy to win my first event on the MENA Tour. It was quite windy out there and there was a bit more pressure playing a two-ball, a bit like match-play,” said Janewattananond after receiving the winner’s trophy from Veeranat Limprasutr, head of business development and director of operations at MahaSamutr Country Club Hua Hin.
“I holed a clutch putt on the 18th to get into the playoff and then managed to make another nice putt on the first extra hole (ninth) from 20 feet which was great,” he added.
South Africa’s Tyler Hogarty, Jamie Elson of England and Thailand’s Chawalit Plapholshot matching 68s to join Wolmer Murillo of Venezuela for a share of third at four under 212, one clear of a five-man group which included overnight leader Weber and England’s Zane Scotland, a 10-time winner on the MENA Tour.
Thai stars completed their domination of the tournament, which was sponsored by MahaSamutr Country Club Hua Hin and supported by Singha Water, when Worathon Zeng took the amateur division honours.
The 18-year-old prodigy closed with a solid 70 to reach two-under for the tournament, finishing a good four shots ahead of India’s top-ranked Rayhan Thomas, who signed for a closing 76.
Young Zeng raced to five under for the day through 12, but a bogey on the 13th and a double bogey on the 16th stalled his momentum, but still his efforts were good enough to land his first title in a professional event.
“This was my first time playing on the MENA Tour and although it was very windy and the conditions were really tough, I am really pleased with the overall result,” said Zeng.
“I plan to play on the rest of the tour’s Thailand swing and then I will fly to the United States in August for college golf. Not only is this my first win as an amateur in a pro tournament, but the first where I earned world amateur ranking points.
The MENA Tour travels to Korat next week for the Mountain Creek Open to be held at the Seve Ballesteros-designed Mountain Creek Golf Club from May 8 to 10.
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Golf Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the region. It is affiliated to R&A, the worldwide golf governing body based in the home of golf, St Andrews, and the Arab Golf Federation and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.
A guaranteed spot on the PGA Tour’s 2018 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (for the MENA Tour champion), multiple European Tour starts, including the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Hassan II Trophy, Maybank Championship Malaysia, and the KLM Open, are some of the added incentives that await MENA Tour members, in addition to playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour, and exemptions into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour Q-Schools.