Singapore play-off to finish Monday

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The two-man play-off to decide the winner of the weather-hit Barclays Singapore Open will now conclude on Monday.

Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano were locked in a play-off battle at the Barclays Singapore Open which will now conclude on Monday morning (7.30am) due to adverse weather.

Both players finished the rain-shortened US$6 million championship, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, tied on 14-under-par 199 after a dramatic third and final round at the Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong course.

The sweet-swinging Pagunsan, who started the day five shots behind overnight leader Fernandez-Castano, charged into contention with a superb four-under-par 67, highlighted by vital birdies on the 15th and 18th holes.

Fernandez-Castano, a four-time winner on the European Tour but not since 2008, wobbled on the back nine to throw away his big lead with bogeys on 12, 14 and 15 but showed tremendous courage with massive par putts on the 16th and 18th holes. He saved par from 15 feet on the last despite a penalty shot following an errant drive into the water hazard for a closing 72.

After hitting their tee shots on the 18th hole in the sudden-death shootout, the threat of lightning forced the suspension of play at 2.45pm, much to the disappointment of the large galleries at Sentosa.

Officials got both players out to the course some two hours later but after laying up successfully with their second shots, the heavens opened up soon after which subsequently led to the decision for the play-off to resume on Monday morning.

This is the second straight year the Barclays Singapore Open has endured a fifth day of play. This week’s tournament, Asia’s richest national Open, was shortened to 54 holes after half a day’s play was lost on Saturday afternoon due to tropical thunderstorms.

Pagunsan thought he had bagged the US$1 million top prize when he saw his rival find the watery grave in regulation play. “In my mind, I thought I was going to win, no play-off. But he made the putt. I’m still here and will wait for a result tomorrow,” said Pagunsan, whose lone Asian Tour victory was in 2007.

“I’m really happy with how I played. Even if I win or lose now, I’ve already saved my card for next year. I’m really happy. But I’m hoping to win tomorrow. I’ll go back now and have a good rest and get ready again.”

With a final round card of five birdies against a lone bogey, the 33-year-old Filipino said he was prepared for a final push on Monday morning. “My confidence is getting stronger and stronger. I can’t say what will happen. He’s a tough player,” said Pagunsan, who will become the new Order of Merit leader no matter what the result as the runner-up cheque is US$666,660.

Fernandez-Castano was relieved to stay in contention for his fifth career win after holing a magnificent par save on 18 with the title on the line.

“I was feeling the pressure because it has been a long time without a victory and I want this one desperately. I felt the pressure at the end. My game was just not there, the putter wasn’t working and I made it tough for myself but at the very end to make that par on the last made my day. Those three pars to finish – I know this doesn’t sound great talking about three pars – but considering the position I was in, the way I was playing and the way my mind was, it was big challenge and I managed to hang on,” said the Spaniard.

“It has been another long day waiting around for three hours but tomorrow is a new day and anything can happen. We are both in a good position on the fairway.”

American Anthony Kim continued his recent fine run of form with a closing 64 for a share of third place with 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa on 200 while Danny Lee of New Zealand, Joost Luiten of the Netherlands and Edoardo Molinari of Italy shared fifth place, a further stroke back.

The 26-year-old Kim, who has finished third and second in his last two tournaments in Asia during the past month, rued a costly bogey on the par five seventh hole which ultimately denied him a chance to join the play-off.

He produced a superb finish with four birdies in the last five holes. “Looking at the board now, I’m disappointed with the bogey on seven where I hit the ball onto an unplayable lie. But I’m getting better every week and that’s all I can ask for,” said Kim, who was bogged down by a wrist injury for much of last year.

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