Australian Andre Stolz triumphed by two shots in the $1-million Thailand Open on Sunday after an enthralling head-to-head battle with home favourite Prayad Marksaeng.
Stolz started three shots behind the overnight leader but stormed through with a nine-under-par 63 at Suwan Golf and Country Club to take his second win of the season on the OneAsia tour.
Nine birdies saw him finish with a four-round aggregate of 22-under-par 266, two strokes ahead of Prayad.
The two combatants were tied on 21-under-par after 14 holes, but a brilliant 30-foot right-to-left birdie putt on the 15th by Stolz proved crucial when Prayad just missed a shorter birdie putt.
The Thai, bidding to become only the third of his countrymen to win his national open, went on to miss an eight-foot birdie putt on the 17th and bogey the last.
“I hit a lot of great shots early on and obviously Prayad and I were battling each other — it was great fun,” said Stolz, who also won OneAsia’s season-opening $1million Indonesia PGA Championship in March.
“I have a motto which I tell my kids — ‘You have got to do what is required’. And that was in my mind today.
“I knew I had to get a fast start and he comes out making birdies as well. When I walked off the first green today I knew it was going to be a shoot-out. You get days that are crazy like that.”
The US$180,000 winners’ cheque meant he overtook Korean Kim Kyung-tae at the top of the OneAsia Order of Merit, with earnings of $433,125 from six events.
It is the continuation of a remarkable comeback for Stolz, who was forced to stop playing in 2005 by a nagging wrist injury caused by wear and tear but came out of retirement two and a half years ago.
Prayad, 45, closed with a 68 and said: “Today I was hoping to shoot five or six under to win the trophy but Stolz is too good. He did everything perfectly. If you ask me whether I feel disappointed or not, I think I did my best.”
Korean’s Choi Jin-ho (69) and Australian Brent McCullough (66) tied for third on 17 under par.
Japan’s Tomokazu Yoshinaga took sole possession of fifth place with a 68 to finish a stroke further back.