Golf: Unho pulls off a 'Phil' to seal win

Unho Park's impressive late show sees him win the Laguna National Masters crown. 

SINGAPORE - Starting the final round four shots back, Unho Park harboured only a very slim chance of clinching the Laguna National Masters tournament at the challenging Masters course.

But when he chipped in from 15 metres for his third birdie in five holes, the Singapore-based Australian pro believed he could do the impossible a la Phil Mickelson (at the recent British Open).

And, like the American who bagged four birdies in the last six holes at Muirfield in Scotland on Sunday, Unho gained four more birdies in a blemishfree round of seven-under 65 to pull the carpet from under the feet of hot favourites and overnight joint-leaders Scott Barr and Mardan Mamat.

With what was his tournamentbest round on the championship course (his previous best was 67), Unho finished ahead of Barr by one shot and two better than Mardan to claim the title and top prize of $3,360.

Unho, who played in the 2006 British Open in Hoylake, said: "It was an impeccable round. I hit the ball well and made the putts to record the fabulous 65."

Finishing the round just ahead of the last flight of Barr, Mardan, M Murugiah and Koh Dengshan, Unho watched from the buggy area as the final quartet negotiated the parfour 18th.

And he saw Barr and Murugiah par the hole, Mardan collapsing to a bogey with a short chip and two putts, and Koh making birdie with a 10-foot putt before receiving the congratulatory handshakes from a small appreciative crowd.

The Orchid Country Club pro added: "I used to be a longtime pro at Laguna, and that helped as I am familiar with the Masters course."

Edge out

Unho, who played 73 and 74 in the previous two rounds, totalled four-under 212 to edge out Barr (70) and Mardan (71).

Singapore Professional Golfers' Association (SPGA) president Murugiah, who turns 50 next May, finished fourth on 217 after a 71 in the final field of 38 players.

Former national golfer Bill Fung, who shot a 72 on Thursday, came from behind to take the Seniors' title by two shots over Jimmy Aw (76) and Alan Chang (76) on 226.

Patrick Bowers, managing director and CEO of Laguna Hospitality, said: "Laguna National has always been an ardent supporter of both the local and Asian golf scene, especially with the emergence of young golf talents who are set to shape the future of the regional golf scene.

"Over the years, the club has maintained a great working relationship with SPGA and its president Murugiah.

"The development and co-ownership of the eightevent Singapore Tournament series allow SPGA local players to compete for the top 12 Order of Merit rankings to represent Singapore at the Prudential Causeway Trophy."

FINAL SCORES:

212: Unho Park 73-74-65

213: Scott Barr 71-72-70

214: Mardan Mamat 69-74-71

217: M Murugiah 73-73-71

220: Quincy Quek 75-76-69

221: Stuart Holmes 73-78-70

222: Poh Eng Wah 76-72-74, Lam Chih Bing 78-71-73, Eugene Sim 75-75-72

223: Koh Dengshan 76-71-76, Choo Tze Huang 75-76-72, Marc Kawasoe 76-76-71

224: Zaw Moe 76-75-73.

SENIORS:

226: Bill Fung 77-77-72

228: Alan Chang 74-78-76, Jimmy Aw 74-80-74.

AMATEURS:

229: Lion Goh 75-81-73.

godfrey@sph.com.sg


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