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Scott Strangle clinches Myanmar title with closing 67

Australian Scott Strange pulled off a stunning two-shot victory at the 10th Myanmar Open today to dash Thongchai Jaidee's hopes of back-to-back titles.

The 27-year-old Strange fired a final round of five-under-par 67 to lift his maiden Asian Tour title with a winning total of 11-under-par 277. Canadian Rick Gibson finished second following a 68 while overnight leader Thongchai and India 's Ashok Kumar shared third place, a further stroke back after carding 74 and 72 respectively.

The odds were stacked on the in-form Thongchai to retain his Myanmar Open crown following his successful defence of the Carlsberg Malaysian Open title last Sunday. But the Thai star uncharacteristically faded despite leading by two shots going into the last day.

Strange, playing in his third year on the Asian Tour, seized the opportunity and gave credit to his local caddie Zaw Moe for leading him to the road to victory. "It's nice isn't it?" said a delighted Strange, who made his Asian debut in Yangon two years ago.

"I thought 67 might have a chance and I came out strong on the back nine. You have to play this course in a certain way and my caddie Zaw read some great lines all week. He picked everything out there. If he wasn't reading the lines, I would have had a few shots more. He was very good. I didn't hit the ball well this week but I holed a lot of putts. My caddie can take much of my credit," added Scott, who picked up US$32,300.

Playing in the second last group and in front of 7,500 spectators, Strange three putted the first hole for a bogey but came roaring back with a birdie on the third and seventh holes. On the inward stretch, and with Zaw reading his putts, Strange holed 30-footers for birdies on 12 and 13 to take a firm grip of the event and two more birdies on 15 and 17 sealed his win.

"I don't have to worry now about securing my card or Qualifying School ," said Strange, who earned a two-year exemption on the Asian Tour.

Veteran Gibson, who began his campaign with a 76 in the first round, was delighted to have challenged Strange all the way. "I'm very pleased, especially after shooting 40 on my first nine on Thursday. The even par on the back nine kind of helped me in the last three days as I could have shot in the 80s in the opening round. But Scott played really well today. Coming down the stretch, he played superbly. I had a chance on 17 to stay close to Scott but I hit a poor chip for par and Scott made birdie," said the Manila-based Gibson.

Thongchai was disappointed with his poor finish despite a strong start with birdies on the second and third holes. But four bogeys and a double bogey saw him settle for a share of third place. "I didn't play well on the back nine and hit some poor drives. I lost my concentration out there and paid the price," said the current Asian Tour number one.

"After hitting into a hazard on six for bogey, my game started to falter. I got unlucky again on the par five 12th hole when my second shot caught a tree branch and then I had a double bogey on 13 after landing in a hazard. It just wasn't my day," added the Thai.

Kumar, a second year professional, was delighted to earn US$11,200 for his best finish yet on the Asian Tour. "Playing in the last group, I felt I had a chance to win and was aggressive in the way I played. But I made some mistakes and missed a few putts out there.

"It is nice though to finish high up on the leaderboard as the money earned could help me get into more events on Tour," said Kumar, who had five birdies against as many bogeys.

Chinese Taipei's Lu Wen-teh finished fifth after wrapping up with a 70 while Arjun Singh of India was sixth. Thai veteran Boonchu Ruangkit was further down the leaderboard in a share of eighth place after closing with a 75.

Minn Naing was the best local finisher after a closing 73 saw him finish tied 33rd on 290.

Leading final scores

277 - Scott Strange (AUS) 69-72-69-67

279 - Rick Gibson (CAN) 76-66-69-68

280 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 67-70-69-74, Ashok Kumar ( IND ) 75-68-65-72

281 - Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 70-70-71-70, 282 - Arjun Singh (IND) 71-70-70-71

283 - Jason Dawes (AUS) 69-73-73-68

284 - Anthony Kang ( USA ) 71-71-74-68, Boonchu Ruangkit (THA) 68-68-73-75

285 - Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 75-69-72-69, Yeh Chang-ting (TPE) 68-76-72-69, Ted Oh (KOR) 71-71-70-73

286 - Mardan Mamat (SIN) 71-75-72-68, Mukesh Kumar ( IND ) 70-71-74-71, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 70-71-71-74

287 - Airil Rizman Zahari (MAS) 71-71-75-70, Chen Tze-chung (TPE) 74-70-71-72, Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 73-67-73-74

288 - Matthew Cort (ENG) 67-76-74-71, Gaurav Ghei (IND) 73-71-74-70, Sung Mao-chang (TPE) 68-77-74-69, Gary Rusnak (USA) 76-72-73-67, Olle Nordberg (SWE) 68-73-75-72, Satoshi Tomiyama (JPN) 74-71-71-72, Adam Le Vesconte (AUS) 72-72-71-73, Andrew Pitts (USA) 69-70-72-77

289 - Mike Cunning (USA) 71-69-77-72, Lin Chie-hsiang (TPE) 72-75-73-69, Jason Knutzon (USA) 73-74-70-72, Frankie Minoza (PHI) 73-73-71-72, Richard Moir (AUS) 71-71-74-73, Edward Loar (USA) 72-70-72-75


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