Westwood victorious again

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England’s Lee Westwood fended off the spirited challenge from Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat by defeating him at the first play-off hole to clinch his third CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters title on Sunday.

The former world number one’s bid to claim his hat-trick of titles at the US$750,000 Asian Tour event was secured when he birdied the play-off 18th hole as Chapchai, a four-time Asian Tour winner, could only make par.

“There are a lot of good players on the Asian Tour now and the standard is getting higher on this Tour and it’s harder to come over here and win, especially today.

“It’s nice to come back and play with them on their own Tour where they get to show everybody in Asia how good they are. To come to this tournament this week and win it three times is obviously extra special,” said Westwood.

The Englishman appeared to be cruising towards an emphatic victory until two successive bogeys on 16 and 17 blew the title race wide open.

He had the opportunity to win with a birdie at the last but misread the green and was forced to settle for a par and a four-day total of seven-under-par 281.

But after returning to the 18th hole for extra-time, Westwood made no mistake from the exact spot again.

“It was a tough putt coming into the hill over on 18. I misread it slightly and hit it to about five-feet and missed it. But fortunately in the play-off, I hit it to the exact same spot, I knew the line and it was a nice straight putt for the win.

“I’ve never been beaten around this golf course which is great and this win will give me the confidence for the year ahead,” said Westwood.

Despite falling short, Chapchai remained upbeat about his season ahead.

The Thai, who holds the world 72-hole scoring record, surmounted a late charge by storming up the leaderboard with seven birdies and one bogey to force Westwood into a play-off.

The 31-year-old found trouble when his second shot landed in the bunker during the play-off.

After hitting out from the bunker where his ball would land about 10-feet away from the pin, Chapchai could also make par, handing the advantage over to Westwood, who would go on to sink his decisive birdie putt.

“When I started out, I told myself a top-three finish would be fantastic, considering how good Lee has played this week. Getting into the play-off was a bonus and I’m very proud of myself despite the defeat.

“I managed to sort out my putting this week. And that’s important as it’ll help in the long season ahead,” said Chapchai.

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