Lee In-woo ends 7-year win drought
Korea’s Lee In-woo fended off the challenge from 13-time Asian Tour winner Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and compatriot Lee Sang-hee by closing with a four-under-par 68 to win the inaugural Volvik Hildesheim Open J Golf Series.
With a winning total of 12-under-par 276, Lee has immediately set his sights on more glory in the region by taking up membership with the Asian Tour.
Thaworn’s quest for his record 14th Asian Tour title had to be put on hold after he signed for a 69 to take a share of second place with Lee Sang-hee at the US$300 000 event that is jointly sanctioned with the Korean Golf Tour.
Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul signed for a 69 to take fourth place while Spanish rookie Javi Colomo had to settle for fifth place alongside Korea’s Byun Jin-jae on 279 at the Hildesheim Country Club.
In-woo, who was among the six players tied for the overnight lead, knew that he had to be on top form given the quality of his closest rivals.
The 40-year–old demonstrated that with a flawless round of 68 that was highlighted by four birdies, on holes two, five, nine and 12.
“When I took a share of the third-round lead yesterday, I told myself that this was my chance of winning and I cannot waste it. My only victory came in 2005 on the Korean Golf Tour and I badly wanted to win again,” said Lee
“What made this victory even sweeter was that I managed to win against a strong field that included players from the Asian Tour,” added the Korean.
While it was a welcome relief for In-woo after he ended a seven-year title drought, the Korean is looking forward to repeat his success on the Asian Tour.
“This win has opened many doors for me and I know that my schedule is going to be very packed from now on. I’m looking forward to winning again especially in the high profile events on the Asian Tour,” said Lee.
Thaworn, winner of the Queen's Cup in Thailand last week, bemoaned a costly bogey on the par-three 17th which ended his chance of winning his 14th Asian Tour title this week.
The Thai was tied for the lead with In-woo until a bad shot on the 17th caused him to slip. He could have forced a play-off on the 18th but could not sink a birdie putt from 20 feet.
“The turning point was at the 17th. I found the bunker on my second shot and that left me with an uphill task to make another birdie as that would have given me the outright lead,” said Thaworn.
“While it’s disappointing, that’s golf and I’ll try to win again in my next event,” said Thaworn.
Pariya, who was chasing his second Asian Tour title, was firmly in the hunt all week.
He started the day, one shot back of the leaders and quickly made his move with three birdies against one bogey to turn in 34.
He parred the rest of the holes coming home except for the 16th where he carded his fourth birdie.
Despite finishing two shots behind In-woo, the 27-year-old Thai was pleased with how he had conducted himself.
“It has been a great week. I struck the ball really well and it was just a matter of placing the ball correctly on the greens. Unfortunately, I didn’t really quite do that today,” said Pariya.
“I’ve been striking the ball really good and my short game has improved a lot and that has paid off this week,” added Pariya.
Drawing inspiration from Spain’s win over France in the Euro 2012 football quarterfinals, Colomo, who shared the overnight lead, set out to emulate his country’s success
“It was great that Spain won and their victory really made me more determined to do well when I stepped up to the tee today,” said Colomo.
Colomo traded two bogeys against one birdie in his outward-nine to turn in 37.
The Spaniard seemed on course for his career breakthrough when he started his homerun with four birdies in five holes right after the turn
However Colomo found water on the 16th which eventually resulted in a bogey-five. He could not regain his composure and a closing bogey on the 18th put paid to any hopes of a victory.
“I hit a very bad drive on the 16th and that really set me back. My putting has not been very good this week, always three-putting and it had to happen again today,” said Colomo.
“But it’s okay. I just have to go back and practice and come back stronger,” added Colomo.
LEADING FINAL SCORES
276 – LEE In-woo (KOR) 71-68-69-68
277 – LEE Sang-hee (KOR) 66-73-71-67, Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 69-71-68-69
278 – Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 68-70-71-69
279 – BYUN Jin-jae (KOR) 69-71-69-70, Javi COLOMO (ESP) 69-70-69-71
280 – Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 71-71-71-67, Makoto INOUE (JPN) 70-71-70-69, PARK Boo-won (KOR) 69-69-70-72, PARK Jun-won (KOR) 69-71-68-72
281 – KANG Kyung-nam (KOR) 71-71-70-69, SONG Young-hoon (KOR) 70-70-71-70, Stephen LEWTON (ENG) 69-73-69-70, Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 70-71-68-72
282 – LEE Dong-min (KOR) 73-71-69-69, KIM Gi-whan (KOR) 72-71-69-70, BAE Sung-chul (KOR) 70-72-68-72, KIM Dae-hyun (KOR) 67-70-72-73, MA Soo-kil (KOR) 66-75-68-73