Kiradech Aphibarnrat sank a 10-foot-birdie putt to beat James Nitties of Australia 2 and 1 in the final of the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 in Perth, Australia, on Sunday and secure his fourth European Tour title.
The Thai No 1 only entered the event, co-sanctioned by the Asian and European tours, seven days earlier and arrived having never even having practised on the course.
He needed four trips up the 18th in a play-off on Saturday night to claim the last of the 24 spots in the Super 6 and then had to come through five mini-rounds of matchplay yesterday.
Altogether he went up and down the 18th hole 15 times.
“I had a long day on Saturday to win a spot in the playoff. I’ve never played so much on the 18th in one week,” said Kiradech, who picked up a winner’s cheque of Bt6.67 million.
It was his first big win since the Paul Lawrie Matchplay in August 2015, his first two European wins being the 2013 Malaysian Open and Shenzhen International in 2015.
“I’m happy to be the last guy standing in this tournament. I have been playing solid golf for the last few months. This is a present for me,” added the 28-year-old world No 53.
After wins over Ben Eccles, Yusaku Miyazato, Sean Crocker and Lucas Herbert, Kiradech produced one final push to beat Nitties and move back into the world’s top 50.
After 54 holes of strokeplay, the players were facing off against each other over the tenth, 11th, 13th, 14th, 12th and 18th, with a 90-yard shootout hole used to separate those still all square.
Nitties hit an excellent approach into the first while the Thai found the sand and, when the three-time European Tour winner failed to get up and down, he was one down.
It should have been advantage Kiradech on the second after Nitties went behind a tree off the tee and put his third into the sand but the burley Thai could only make a five and the hole was halved.
There was more tree trouble off the tee for Nitties on the next and this time he could not make par, so Kiradech’s four levelled the tie.
An incredible tee-shot to three feet on the driveable fourth set up a Kiradech eagle, which he just missed, and he had to hold his nerve to even make the putt after Nitties made a remarkable birdie from the trees.
Both men hit good drives at the fifth but when Nitties missed his putt, Kiradech swooped from ten feet.
Four Thais had had made it to the Sunday's stage including top seed Prom Meesawat, Poom Saensin and Pavit Tangkamolprasert, but none survived beyond the second round except for Kiradech.
“I have been playing a lot of golf over the past several weeks but that’s OK. If I don’t play golf, it means I don’t have a job,” Kiradech said.