TARLAC – Thai Namchok Tantipokhakul charged back from six strokes down with a brilliant five-under 67 then watched Teemu Putkonen wilt under pressure at the finish to snare the ICTSI Luisita Championship crown by one at the Luisita Golf and Country Club here yesterday.
It was a stirring come-from-behind triumph for the 34-year-old ace from Choburi, who led in the rain-hit first round but dropped to joint third and six off Putkonen with a mediocre 72 Wednesday.
But Tantipokhakul worked his way back from third-to-last flight with six birdies against two bogeys after 14 holes then drilled in a clutch birdie on the par-5 16th to finish at 11-under 277 and record his first victory worth $17,500 on Philippine Golf Tour Asia put up by ICTSI.
Tantipokhakul, who tied for sixth in the Solaire Philippine Open two weeks ago and wound up joint 10th in this event last year, thus ended the locals’ domination of the region’s emerging circuit after the Filipinos ruled the last five legs of the 2018 PGT Asia season capped by Clyde Mondilla’s two-shot victory over American Nicolas Paez in the Philippine Open at The Country Club.
Putkonen still had three holes left after Tantipokhakul forced a tie at 11-under overall but succumbed to pressure, flubbing a birdie putt on the 16th and bogeying the treacherous par-3 17th to fell by one. He missed another birdie bid for a playoff on the 18th and ended up with a 72, setting for second instead at 278.
BEST PINOY FINISHER
Tony Lascuña emerged as the best Filipino finisher, turning in a 71 to tie Thai Natthapong Niyomchon for 7th to 8th places at 283 followed by Jay Bayron and Nilo Salahog who were bunched in joint 9th – one stroke adrift.