Red-hot Jazz Janewatananond came close to winning back-to-back Asian Tour titles after he fired a dazzling final round 64 to fall behind American winner John Catlin by a stroke in the US$300,000 Sarawak Championship in Kuching, Malaysia on Saturday.
Six days after winning his second Tour crown in the Queen’s Cup in Chon Buri, the 22-year-old fired a total 21 under-par-267 to settle at second along with fellow countryman Danthai Boonma and overnight leader Paul Petersen of the US. Catlin, meanwhile, birdied the final hole to avoid a play-off, signing off with an immaculate 66 on 22 under-par-266.
“I didn’t think I had a chance today! I didn’t think I could come close and I started really slow on the front nine,” said Jazz whose current form will surely boost his confidence going to the Open between 19-22.
“ I’m happy that I continued to play this well leading into The Open. After the birdie on 16, I still felt like I was too far but I hit it close on 17 and made eagle. That changed everything but I couldn’t birdie the last hole. It is okay because from no chance of winning, I actually gave myself a glimmer of hope,” added Jazz or Atiwit who has posed three top six finishes in his latest four events.
John Catlin with the trophy
The 27-year-old Catlin held his nerve before rolling in a five-foot putt on the par-four 18th hole to edge his closest challengers Jazz and Danthai Boonma and Paul Peterson of the United States by a single shot at the Damai Golf and Country Club.
“It was crazy! It was a grind all week long. People keep making birdies and I asked myself ‘when is my birdie going to be enough!’ I finally did it on the 18th hole and that’s what I needed,” said Catlin the first player to have won more than one Asian Tour titles this year as he just celebrated his maiden victory in the Asia-Pacific Classic in China in May.
“Danthai, Peterson and I were tied after the 12th hole and suddenly on 17 we saw that Jazz was one ahead of us! Honestly I wanted someone to go ahead because I figured it would push me and put a little fire under me. That’s probably why I birdied the last hole,” added Catlin who won US$54,000 and 14 Official World Golf Ranking points. The victory also pushes him to 10th place on the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity Standings.
Danthai shot a bogey free 66 to finish second on the Asian Tour for the first time since he lost to India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar in the final round of the US$300,000 Bangk BRI-JBC Indonesia Open in November 2016. However, the result gave him the much needed confidence ahead of his Major debut at The Open in two weeks.
“I played really well. I had six birdies and I was bogey free. I really tried my best. I missed a few short birdie putts on 13 and 14 but that’s golf. I was a little bit nervous but I’m still proud with how I played. I have more confidence now before The Open. I’m off next week so I will practice harder for my first Major championship,” Danthai said.
The 30-year-old Peterson was disappointed not to win the Sarawak Championship where he held the lead since the opening round. He piled the pressure on Catlin with a cool birdie finish on the last but eventually settled for second place.
“It was a tremendous week. This is the most under-par I’ve ever been in my professional career. There are a lot of positives to take from the week. It was going to take someone to play a really good round to beat me and that’s what happened. I birdied the last to try and rattle him but a great putt by him. He deserved the win,” Petersen said.
266 - John CATLIN (USA) 67-65-68-66.
267 - Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 66-66-71-64, Danthai BOONMA (THA) 67-66-68-66, Paul PETERSON (USA) 63-67-69-68."
268 - Javi COLOMO (ESP) 66-67-68-67.
269 - Mark BROWN (NZL) 65-71-67-66.
270 - Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 67-69-70-64, Johannes VEERMAN (USA) 67-70-68-65, Kevin LEE (KOR) 67-65-71-67."
272 - Peradol PANYATHANASEDH (THA) 66-69-67-70.
273 - Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 70-67-70-66, Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND) 68-71-67-67, Himmat RAI (IND) 68-67-70-68, Maverick ANTCLIFF (AUS) 69-69-67-68, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 68-68-66-71.
274 - Natipong SRITHONG (THA) 68-67-69-70.