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Wiratchant claims Taiwan Masters title

Thaworn Wiratchant claimed his first title in three years when he won the US$390,000 Mercuries Taiwan Masters by two strokes on Sunday.

The Thai fired a final round of two-over-par 74 at Taiwan Golf and Country Club's Tamsui Course to triumph over Chinese Taipei's Chen Yuan-chi, who closed with a 72 and South African Chris Williams, who carded a 74, in the Asian Tour event.

Starting the round with a two shot edge over Williams, Thaworn did not face any pressure from his rivals on a tough scoring day. "I'm very happy to win again after such a long time," said Thaworn, , whose victory was his career fourth but his first since the 2001 Volvo Masters of Malaysia.

"I thought the field would catch up on the back nine as I wasn't playing solidly but I'm glad I hung on. I just played it safe coming in as I knew I had a good lead"

A steady front nine 35 widened his overnight advantage to four shots which ultimately was big enough a cushion for him to coast home. Thaworn, who pocketed US$77,968, converted an eight foot birdie on the fourth hole and chipped to six feet on the par five seventh hole for birdie.

Two straight bogeys on nine and 10 rattled his confidence but with none of the other title chasers rallying, the Thai could even afford to bogey 16 and 18, the last hole with a three-putt.

"Looking back, my putting was steady this week. At the turn, I was leading by four and although I dropped bogeys on 10 and 16, I still had a good lead. I just avoided the big numbers," said Thaworn, who has one of the most unique swings on the Asian Tour.

Williams, bidding for a first title in six years, failed to launch his challenge and dropped bogeys on the third and ninth and did not shoot a single birdie. At the end, the powerfully-built Chen sneaked in a 30-foot birdie on the 18th to earn a share of second place, worth US$37,034.

Chen said: "That last birdie on 18 was very nice. Today, I didn't hit my drives well and did not have many opportunities to attack the pins. It was hard to catch Thaworn, so finishing joint second was pretty good."

Scotsman Simon Yates carded a 71 to finish fourth on 286 while Australian Richard Moir and Chinese Taipei's Yeh Chang-ting, a former winner of the Mercuries Taiwan Masters, shared fifth place on 288.

Leading Final Round Scores

283 - Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 69-69-71-74

285 - Chris Williams (RSA) 70-70-71-74, Chen Yuan-chi (TPE) 74-71-68-72

286 - Simon Yates (SCO) 72-74-69-71

288 - Richard Moir (AUS) 70-74-71-73, Yeh Chang-ting (TPE) 74-75-69-70

289 - Chen Tsang-te (TPE) 73-73-69-74, Chang Tse-peng (TPE) 77-70-67-75

290 - Lin Chie-hsiang (TPE) 72-67-80-71, Kim Felton (AUS) 74-69-75-72, Jason Knutzon (USA) 72-72-73-73, Boonchu Ruangkit (THA) 71-76-71-72, Gaurav Ghei (IND) 74-73-71-72

291 - Chen Chung-cheng (TPE) 70-75-75-71, Hsu Mong-nan (TPE) 77-68-74-72, Kao Bo-song (TPE) 72-73-74-72

292 - Danny Chia (MAS) 75-73-74-70, Mike Cunning (USA) 73-75-73-71, Alistair Presnell (AUS) 73-75-72-72, Huang Tung-liang (TPE) 76-71-72-73

293 - Harmeet Kahlon (IND) 73-76-72-72, Su Chin-jung (TPE) 74-75-71-73, Hsieh Min-nan (TPE) 75-73-71-74

294 - Gerald Rosales (PHI) 73-74-75-72, Rick Gibson (CAN) 72-76-72-74, Firoz Ali (IND) 72-73-74-75, Hsieh Chin-sheng (TPE) 73-73-72-76

295 - Olle Nordberg (SWE) 71-75-75-74, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 75-75-73-72, Yoshinobu Tsukada (JPN) 73-75-72-75

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