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Scotman Simon Yates winsSK Telecom Open

Scotsman Simon Yates ended a six-year title drought when he won the US$400,000 SK Telecom Open by one shot over overnight leader Charlie Wi of Korea and Rick Gibson of Canada today.

Starting the final round one stroke off the lead, the Thai-based Yates fired a final round of two-under-par 70 in the Asian Tour event to triumph at Baekahmvista Country Club. He picked up a cheque of US$85,470

It was a nerve-wracking finish on the 18th green. Holding a one shot lead playing the last hole, Yates could have sealed victory but missed a five-foot par attempt which opened the door for Gibson to force a play-off. However, the Canadian agonisingly missed his par putt from four feet to hand victory to his rival.

Wi, who was chasing for his third SK Telecom Open title in four years, carded a 72 while Gibson shot a 71 to share second place. Korean Chung Joon finished fourth while compatriot Anthony Kang and American Fred Couples settled for tied fifth place after shooting 71 and 73 respectively.

Victory was sweet redemption for Yates, who totalled nine-under-par 279 this week, as he banished the ghost of 2001, the year he lost the SK Telecom Open in a play-off. He has won once, the 1998 Sabah Masters in Malaysia , for his lone victory in Asia and has subsequently finished second on eight occasions.

"I missed a six footer to win this event three years ago and lost the play-off and now Rick misses a short one for me to win today. That's golf and I was bit lucky on the 18th hole," said Yates. "It's nice, it's been a long time. I'm lucky I've got this game as a living and I played really nicely today. The front nine was the key as I made some putts for birdies. I didn't make many mistakes."

Yates and Gibson were engaged in a thrilling duel with the lightweight Scotsman holding a one-shot advantage after an outward 33. The lead increased to two when Yates saved par from eight feet on the 15th hole, which Gibson bogeyed. The Canadian reduced the lead to one again with a birdie on 16 and then suffered the misfortune of missing the short putt to force extra-time.

"I went through my (putting) routine and just missed it right. I don't know what happened. I played good, I showed a little more today than I have in the last couple of years," said a disappointed Gibson, whose outing was his third top-10 on the Asian Tour this season.

Wi never got going in the final round and was tied on the first hole which Gibson and Yates birdied. When he bogeyed the fifth hole, it was soon an uphill battle: "I didn't make the pars at the beginning. Simon and Rick played great and I was kind of lucky to finish tied second when Rick missed that short putt. I had my chances but that is how golf goes. I had some chances on the back nine but it didn't happen."

Last year's winner Choi Kyung-ju of Korea carded a closing 74 to finish joint 14th, 10 shots behind the winner.

Leading final round scores

279 - Simon Yates (SCO) 70-69-70-70

280 - Charlie Wi (KOR) 70-66-72-72, Rick Gibson (CAN) 70-72-67-71

283 - Chung Joon (KOR) 71-72-68-72

284 - Anthony Kang ( USA ) 71-72-68-73, Fred Couples ( USA ) 70-74-69-71

285 - Shin Yong-jin (KOR) 72-73-70-70

286 - Lee Sung-man (KOR) 69-73-74-70, Kim Jong-duk (KOR) 77-67-69-73

287 - Jason Dawes (AUS) 70-74-73-70, Edward Michaels ( USA ) 72-70-74-71

288 - Jung Jae-hoon (KOR) 76-67-75-70, Hur Suk-ho (KOR) 72-72-70-74

289 - Choi Gwang-Soo (KOR) 75-72-72-70, Jang Ik-jae (KOR) 73-73-70-73, Kim Dae-sub (KOR) 72-70-73-74, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 68-70-76-75, Choi Kyung-ju (KOR) 69-74-72-74

290 - Ted Oh (KOR) 70-71-75-74, Choi Ho-sung (KOR) 71-72-73-74

291 - Kang Ji-man (KOR) 73-73-73-72, Paul Spargo (AUS) 75-71-73-72, Chen Tze-chung (TPE) 74-73-75-69, Park Jae-kyung (KOR) 73-75-70-73, Bae Sung-chul (KOR) 72-73-72-74

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