Asian Tour: Nitithorn Thippong secures maiden tour win in thrilling end to DGC Open
- Thai golfer beats India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu on first play-off hole after compelling finish at Delhi Golf Club
- The pair finished tied on 7-under after Nitithorn squandered an overnight two-shot lead.
Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong beat Ajeetesh Sandhu from India on the first hole of a sudden-death play-off to claim The DGC Open on Sunday, after a compelling finish to the inaugural event on the Lodhi course at Delhi Golf Club.
Nitithorn made a brilliant birdie on the par-five 18th to win his first event on the Asian Tour, after Sandhu holed out for par.
The pair had finished tied on 7-under after Nitithorn, the overnight leader by two from Sandhu, closed with a 1-over 73, and Sandhu a 71.
Thailand’s Settee Prakongvech finished one shot short of the play-off after returning 71 to finish outright third for his best Asian Tour finish, while Gaganjeet Bhullar from India carded 72, to claim solo fourth, two strokes further back.
Nitithorn lived up to his nickname “Fever” by raising the temperature of his game on the famous 18th. Tied with Sandhu on the last in normal time, he holed a 10ft putt for birdie, forcing Sandhu to make his four from 5ft to send the tournament into overtime.
The 25-year-old Thai golfer then reached the green with two fine shots in the play-off leaving himself a 15ft eagle putt, while Sandhu found the putting surface in three having landed in trouble off the tee. After Sandhu missed his birdie attempt from 18ft, Nitithorn triumphantly two putted to earn a cheque for US$90,000 (HK$704,000).
“I can’t describe my feeling right now. To win on the Asian Tour I have been waiting for this for a long time,” Nitithorn said.
“I cannot describe my feelings, it is incredible, it’s amazing. I didn’t putt so good today. I just tried to hit it on the green and make the putts, but I couldn’t make them.
“On the 14th, where I made bogey, I was so nervous there, but I did not lose my mind. I just focused on everything that I can, and just play. In the play off I wasn’t as nervous as in normal time. I felt more free and so comfortable.”
The tournament developed into a two-horse race, with Nitithorn appearing to be on course for victory after staying two ahead after nine before he made bogeys on 10, 14 and 16.
Birdies on 13 and 14 meant Sandhu was two ahead with two to play, but he pushed his tee shot right on the par-three 17th, lost his ball, and ended up making a double bogey, while Nitithorn made par to draw level and set up a dramatic finish on 18.
“It was a good week,” Sandhu said. “Looking back, I’ll definitely take a lot from it. It was disappointing how it finished, but that’s golf. You always have to keep coming back from disasters. No regrets because while competing you’re always trying your best.
“In hindsight, I would say on the 17th I tried to hit a shot which was not a high percentage one. I tried to move it with the wind to go into the flag but just didn’t make a good swing.”