Feb 24 (Reuters) - Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol birdied the final two holes to overhaul Sri Lankan Mithun Perera and win the Asian Tour’s season opening Myanmar Open in Yangon on Sunday.
The 38-year-old rolled in a three-foot putt on the par-five last to finish with a three-under 69 and 271 18-under total to seal a one-shot triumph and claim his fourth Asian Tour title.
“I‘m happy but a first win in two years is not enough, I want to win more Asian Tour titles,” Chawalit told reporters after sealing the $54,000 prize fund.
“I knew at the 17th hole that Mithun was on 17-under. Luckily, I managed to hole a 15-foot birdie putt to tie for the lead.”
Chawalit held a one-shot lead overnight and began his final round well, recording birdies on the second and fifth to maintain his advantage at the Royal Mingalardon Golf and Country Club.
But a dropped shot on the ninth halted his charge and despite picking up a shot at the par-five 14th he gave it right back on the next as Perera stormed in front with five birdies on the back nine in a blemish free round of 65.
“It wasn’t smooth for me during the front nine because I was forcing myself to play it safe. I gave myself a bit of pressure and it felt better on the back,” the Thai said.
Perera, the first Sri Lankan to hold an Asian Tour card, completed his round by parring the par-five 18th to post a total of 17 under to lead in the clubhouse and throw all the pressure on Chawalit. But the world number 438 was up to the task.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on a first Asian Tour title in just his ninth start, Perera was pleased with his efforts.
“All you need is one good week to turn your life around. I think the win is not far away for me. I‘m sure my father and my country are proud of me. This week, I flew the Sri Lankan flag high,” said the 26-year-old.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat finished third after the leader at the halfway mark could only muster a 70 to finish two back of his compatriot Chawalit.
South Korea’s Hwang In-choon fired a 67 to grab a share of fourth alongside Australian Darren Beck (69) and Filipino Angelo Que (70).
The next stop for the Asian Tour is the $300,000 SAIL-SBI Open in New Delhi from March 6-9. (Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Alison Wildey)