Mars in seventh heaven with Vietnam victory
Filipino Mars Pucay claimed the inaugural Mercedes-Benz Championship Vietnam today for his second victory of the season on the ASEAN Golf Tour.
The 37 year old's experience shone through at Vietnam Golf & Country Club as he carded a two-under-par 70 to beat Thailand's Pijit Petchakasem by a stroke.
Pijit also closed with a 70 while one stroke further back was his compatriot Nakul Vichitryuthasastr and Felix Casas of the Philippines.
The final round proved to be an enthralling battle between the more senior duo of Pucay and Casas and two young and emerging Thai stars Pijit and Nakul.
Pucay started the day one stroke adrift of Nakul and was the picture of consistency making three birdies and one bogey. The back nine was particularly impressive as in tense circumstances he birdied the par-five 10 th and then recorded eight pars.
He finished with a four-round-aggregate of five-under-par 283.
The man from Canlubang won the Tour's second leg, the Active Mount Malarayat Championship in the Philippines last month, and was thrilled to finish top again.
He said: "Wow, this is a great feeling! It was close all the way. I think when I look back it was my putting that really counted. I am making something like 28 or 29 putts per round."
Pucay turned professional in 1994 after winning the Philippine Amateur Championship and partnered Casas in the 1999 World Cup.
"I am definitely being more aggressive with my game right now which is a first and I have been working hard on my game. It is great to see the hard work pay off," added Pucay, who won US$6,970.
In contrast to Pucay's steadiness, the players challenging him produced a mixed bag.
Pijit made a strong finish with birdies on 14 and 17 and he missed a 15-foot putt for birdie on the last.
"I had a chance and it was good to finish well under pressure," said Pijit.
Casas made costly bogeys on 16 and 18 while Nakul never quite recovered after playing the font nine in one over.
In an encouraging sign for Vietnamese golf, Huynh Van Son finished seven off the pace. The 28 year old amateur, who was the joint first round leader along with Pucay, closed with a 73.
The fifth and final event of the year on the ASEAN Golf Tour is the E-San Open at Victory Park Golf & Country Club from December 19 to 22.
Leading final round scores - Par 72 (click here for full leaderboard):
283 - Mars Pucay (PHI) 69-72-72-70
284 - Pijit Petchakasem (THA) 70-75-69-70
285 - Felix Casas (PHI) 71-74-68-72, Nakul Vichitryuthasastr (THA) 70-71-71-73
286 - Namchok Tantipokhakul (THA) 75-74-69-68
287 - Khor Kheng Hwai (MAS) 71-75-68-73, Jay Bayron (PHI) (a) 69-75-71-72
290 - Huynh Van Son (VNM) (a) 69-74-74-73, Pornpong Phatlum (THA) 77-72-68-73
(a) denotes amateur
November 17, 2007