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Wang wins Macau Open by a stroke

Wang Ter-chang of Chinese Taipei struck a winning note for the old boys on Sunday when he held his nerve to lift the Macau Open title by one stroke and end his six-year winless run.

The 42-year-old veteran carded a final round of three-under-par 68 for a 14-under-par 270 total on a wind-swept day at Macau Golf and Country Club and edged out Australian duo Jarrod Lyle and Marcus Both, who signed off with 67 and 66 respectively.

Title holder Jason Knutzon of the United States shared fourth place with compatriot Edward Loar and Australian Terry Pilkadaris on 274 while two-time champion Zhang Lian-wei of China shot the day's best of 65 to finish eighth.

Former Masters winner Fred Couples gave his legion of supporters plenty to cheer about with an outstanding finish of birdie and eagle over his closing two holes for a 70 and finished joint 12th.

"At my age, it feels great to win again. It's not often that golfers can win when they are 42. I had a chance at the Volvo Masters of Asia (last December but finished third) but this week, I felt good. I hope it won't be another six years before I win again. Hopefully next year," said a beaming Wang, whose two career victories on the Asian Tour were at the 1997 Ta Shee Open on home soil and 1999 Myanmar Open.

After seizing the third round lead on Saturday, Wang, who pocketed US$43,312, was confident he would claim victory and he certainly lived up to his words. He had to endure some anxious moments with consecutive bogeys on the 12th and 13th holes, both par fives, before regaining the lead, which he would not lose again, at the 15th hole with a glorious birdie.

There, he nailed a wedge to three feet of the flag for his sixth birdie of the day but Wang said the birdie on 11, which gave him a three-shot cushion over the field, was pleasing as he splashed out from the greenside bunker and straight into the hole.

"I was watching the leaderboard all day and the birdie on 11 was important as it gave me a cushion before my consecutive bogeys on 12 and 13. After regaining my lead on 15, I just played steadily and when I hit the green in regulation on the last hole, I knew I would win. I think I still have a good future in the game," said Wang, who became the third oldest winner on the Asian Tour after Boonchu Ruangkit of Thailand and American Mike Cunning.

The 23-year-old Lyle, who overcame leukaemia six years ago, was in the mix with an outward 32 but his title hopes dipped when an aggressive play at the par five 12th saw him run up a double bogey. Still the Asian Tour rookie was delighted with his tied second outing, worth US$23,168.

"I went out there today and did everything I wanted to do. I was very aggressive but it probably didn't pay off on 12 when I made a double bogey. I drove it to the right rough and caught a pretty good lie and tried to hit a three wood and get it close to the green. But I blocked it right and never saw it and lost it down the hill. I could have birdied every hole coming in but all in all, it's been a good week," said Lyle.

His outstanding finish was satisfying as his mother, Sally, was with him in Macau . "Mum's been a big support all through my life. We were in Hong Kong last week and spent a lot of money. It's nice to finish well to reimburse myself a little bit!" said the Melbourne-based Lyle.

Both charged into contention with three consecutive birdies from the second hole and was six-under for the day through 13 holes. He held a share of the lead twice with Wang on the home stretch but the Aussie, winner of the 2003 Sanya Open in China, was blown off course with costly bogeys on the par three 14th and 17th holes before ensuring a share of second with a closing birdie.

As he watched Wang wrap up the victory by the 18th greenside, Both said: "I was hoping for Wang to birdie the last. It makes it less painful to lose by two rather than one. I can't be disappointed with the way I played today. I got off to a fast start which was about as much as I could have done.

"I misjudged the breeze on the par three's and hit a bit too much club on 14. I missed some birdies after that and had a close on 16 but missed from 12 feet. On 17, I started the ball where I wanted to and it didn't move which was completely different from yesterday's wind," said Both.

Couples drained a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th and nailed a 25-footer for eagle on the 18th and ended the week nine shots behind the winner. "It's been a fun week. But it was a bit too erratic this week for me to have really challenged. It was tough out there with the heat and wind but I've had a good time. I enjoyed playing golf in Asia for the past two weeks," said the American, who was tied second in Korea last Sunday.

Thailand 's Thaworn Wiratchant, second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, finished in a disappointing equal 26th on 283 after closing with a 71. The Asian Tour will move to the Philippine Open next week.

Leading final round scores

270 - Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 66-69-67-68

271 - Marcus Both (AUS) 65-68-72-66, Jarrod Lyle (AUS) 67-70-67-67

274 - Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 67-68-71-68, Jason Knutzon ( USA ) 67-68-69-70, Edward Loar ( USA ) 71-66-66-71

276 - Anthony Kang ( USA ) 70-68-71-67

278 - Zhang Lian-wei (CHN) 69-70-74-65, Arjun Singh (IND) 71-68-72-67, Corey Harris (USA) 68-71-68-71, Suk Jong-yul (KOR) 67-68-70-73

279 - Fred Couples (USA) 68-72-69-70, Lin Chie-hsiang (TPE) 69-71-66-73

280 - Chen Tze-chung (TPE) 69-70-72-69, Andrew Pitts (USA) 69-70-70-71, Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 69-70-70-71, Kao Bo-song (TPE) 71-66-70-73, Jason Dawes (AUS) 67-67-72-74

281 - Scott Strange (AUS) 72-70-69-70

282 - Craig Warren (AUS) 72-70-72-68, Lu Wei-chih (TPE) 74-69-70-69, Amandeep Johl (IND) 70-71-71-70, P. Gunasegaran (MAS) 73-69-70-70, Frankie Minoza (PHI) 73-69-70-70, Lu Wei-lan (TPE) 66-66-73-77

283 - Rahil Gangjee (IND) 70-72-71-70, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 71-68-73-71, Alejandro Quiroz (MEX) 70-68-74-71, Harmeet Kahlon (IND) 71-67-72-73, Zheng Wen-gen (CHN) 65-70-72-76


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