ASIAN Tour rookie Natipong Srithong of Thailand rose from three strokes down in the last nine holes to win the Resorts World Manila Masters by one, closing with a five-under 67 on Sunday at the Manila Southwoods’ Masters course in Cavite.
Srithong, playing on a sponsor’s invite, took control after a two-shot swing on No. 17, making birdie as South Africa’s Jbe Kruger suffered a bogey.
With earlier rounds of 71-69-66, Srithong finished at 15-under 273 and bagged the $180,000 prize.
“I kept telling myself to stay calm because in the last few tournaments on the Asian Development Tour, I got excited about being in contention but ended up not playing well in the last round,” said Srithong, who turned pro just two months ago.
“I took it one shot at a time and played at my own pace.”
Kruger hit birdie on the 18th but that was not enough to force a playoff as Srithong made par to clinch the victory.
Kruger ended up with a 71 for a 274 worth $110,000.
“I knew I had to hit an eagle to try to tie him and I nearly did it. But it showed it wasn’t meant to be,” said Kruger.
Hung Chien-yao birdied Nos. 15 and 16 but dropped two strokes on the par-5 closing hole for a 73, finishing two strokes off at 275. He settled for joint third with compatriot Lee Chieh-po, who closed out with a 70.
Three-time Asian Tour winner Angelo Que and Miguel Tabuena, the top money earner on the domestic tour this season, were the top finishers for the Philippines.
Angelo Que closed with a 72 and Miguel Tabuena shot a 70 to finish in a big group tied for 18th at 280. Each got US$10,935 (around P513,000).
“I missed some birdie putts. But that’s no excuse. I have to keep going and practice even more on the greens,” said Que, who competes in Japan next week then plays in Vietnam before heading the locals’ bid in the Philippine Open at the Luisita Golf Club in Tarlac next month.