Shiv Kapur clinches title with closing 67
A star was born when India 's Shiv Kapur lifted the US$600,000 Volvo Masters of Asia title on Sunday, beating last year's winner and countryman Jyoti Randhawa by two strokes.
The 23-year-old Kapur, the overnight co-leader, fired a superb five-under-par 67 in the final round at a sun-kissed Thai Country Club and claimed his maiden Asian Tour title with a tournament record of 20-under-par 268 in what is the season's grand finale.
Randhawa and Australia 's Marcus Both, who entered the last day tied with Kapur, carded 69 and 71 respectively for second and third place after they failed to find any early momentum. Thailand 's Chawalit Plaphol finished fourth after a 69 while Filipino legend Frankie Minoza was fifth after a closing 68.
It was the culmination of a memorable rookie season for the talented Kapur, who had posted five top-10s including a play-off defeat last month. He won US$108,000, by far his biggest career cheque after ending his campaign in the Volvo Masters of Asia in great style, holing a 20-foot birdie putt from off the green.
"Right now, I'm a dream world. The season is better than I had dreamed off. I thought I had the game to win. I never thought I would win the most important one, our Tour championship. It wasn't really in my heart that I would win this week. Three months ago, I was 85th on the Order of Merit and struggling to keep my card. I have to say that I'm more than pleased," said Kapur, who finished fourth on the money list with US$242,101.
Thailand 's Thaworn Wiratchant was also celebrating with his first Asian Tour Order of Merit crown after a spectacular season which saw him claim four titles and earned US$510,122, both a record in Asian golf history. Thaworn finished tied 14th on Sunday while countryman Thongchai Jaidee, the only player who could pip Thaworn with at least a second place finish in the Volvo Masters of Asia, was tied 27th.
A bogey on the first hole failed to knock Kapur off his stride as he bounced back with birdies on the par five fourth and seventh holes with some solid ball-striking. He nailed a 15-foot birdie on 10 to open up a two-shot lead before picking up further birdies on 12, 15 and the final hole, which he sank from long range, in front of a large gallery.
"Losing in a play-off (in the Double A International Open in Thailand last month) was a disappointment and I was telling people that I would be a better player from that experience when I got onto the bigger stage. I didn't expect this win to come so soon," said Kapur, who held at least a share of the lead from the opening round.
"When your luck is going for you, things happen for you. It has a lot to do with luck and I'm the first to admit that. I would rather be lucky than good. I told my caddie at the start of the day that 20-under would have a chance and when the last putt went in, I was spot on," said Kapur, whose victory earned him invites to the US PGA Tour's Sony Open next month and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Randhawa tipped his cap to his young compatriot after making it a battle on the back nine with three birdies on the 10th, 11th and 17th." Shiv just played great – I lost to a great champion," said Randhawa, Asia 's number one in 2002.
"On the front nine I was trying to make things happen and I landed myself in a bit of trouble and was lucky to get away with pars. I glanced at the leaderboard and saw I was behind so I started to step on it but things did not happen for me. Shiv played great golf all week. Losing to that kind of golf, I do not really mind."
Both failed to fire and a bogey on eight after an errant drive derailed his hopes. "It was one of those days. I didn't hit it as good as I needed to. I gave myself chances on the front nine but didn't hole the putts. I was kind of behind the eight ball and just felt like I needed to make something happen," said the Aussie.
"Good on Shiv, though. I told him after he lost in the play-off that he was going to win one this year and I was hoping it would be Vietnam when I wasn't playing there and he goes on to win this one instead! He has played sensationally the last few weeks with five top 10s in seven tournaments and it's no surprise that he's won the biggest event of the year."
Thaworn signed for a 73 and was delighted to reach a new career high with the merit win, which comes with exemptions into the British Open next July, which will be his first Major outing, and the Sony Open.
"I'm happy and relieved. It has been a big year for me," said Thaworn, who won titles in Indonesia , Chinese Taipei, India and Vietnam this season and holds the most wins - eight - on the Asian Tour.
"All the hard work paid off and I have learnt from past mistakes. My luck has been very good and it's not often you get years like this. The Indonesian Open win was the best as every shot I hit there was very good and it was a big event," said Thaworn.
Leading final scores
268 - Shiv Kapur ( IND ) 66-67-68-67
270 - Jyoti Randhawa ( IND ) 70-64-67-69
272 - Marcus Both (AUS) 69-66-66-71
275 - Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 69-70-67-69
277 - Frankie Minoza (PHI) 70-74-65-68
278 - Andrew Buckle (AUS) 66-71-70-71
280 - Kang Wook-soon (KOR) 71-73-70-66, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 71-68-68-73
281 - Ted Oh (KOR) 68-73-69-71, Simon Yates (SCO) 71-69-69-72
282 - Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 71-71-69-71, Prom Meesawat (THA) 67-72-70-73
283 - Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 69-71-70-73
284 - Lin Keng-Chi (TPE) 73-72-72-67, Mo Joong-kyung (KOR) 74-68-71-71, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 72-72-68-72, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 71-73-67-73, Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 71-67-71-75, Adam Fraser (AUS) 68-69-72-75, Zhang Lian-wei (CHN) 72-66-70-76
285 - Jason Knutzon ( USA ) 70-70-73-72, Scott Strange (AUS) 70-69-73-73, Gary Simpson (AUS) 69-71-72-73
286 - Adam Blyth (AUS) 73-75-69-69
287 - Gaurav Ghei ( IND ) 72-69-74-72, Anthony Kang ( USA ) 68-76-70-73
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