Dodt 7th behind Lee in Solaire Open
BY Bruce Young | Asian Tour | 2014 Solaire Open | Wrap | 16 Mar 2014
Canlubang, Manila, March 16: Canada’s Richard T. Lee claimed a sensational comeback victory at the Solaire Open at the expense of home favourite Angelo Que whose title chances were dashed after one bad hole on Sunday.
Lee overcame a four-shot deficit in the final round with a two-under-par 69 to defeat Thailand’s Chawalit Plaphol by one shot and win his first Asian Tour title at the US$300,000 event.
Overnight leader Que was on course for a fourth Asian Tour win before disaster struck on the par-five second hole when he shot a 12 after hitting three out-of-bound tee shots at the challenging The Country Club.
Carlos Pigem of Spain shot a 69 for tied third while Steve Lewton of England, Paul Peterson of the United States and Masahiro Kawamura of Japan, whose 65 was the day’s lowest score, shared fourth.
“This win means so much to me and it opens so many doors. To be honest, I felt like I was in contention for the first three days. I shot under-par each day and I knew that if I can came out on the last day to play the way I did then I would have a chance to win. I’m glad I did just that!” said Lee, who totalled seven-under-par 277 to win US$54,000.
Lee, whose parents are Korean, was ecstatic with his maiden victory after enjoying a solid rookie season on the Asian Tour in 2013 where he finished 32nd on the Order of Merit. However, there was a sense of disappointment as he had to watch his best friend Que walk away empty handed.
“It was a learning experience for me on the Asian Tour last year. I met some great people like Angelo Que, Unho Park and Lam Chih Bing. They are good players and I learnt a lot from them. I wished Angelo luck yesterday and told him to play his best. It was unfortunate to see what happened to him,” said the 23-year-old Lee.
Lee has endured many ups-and-downs in his career. As an amateur, he qualified for the 2007 US Open but struggled to perform due to a wrist injury. Learning from that experience, he ensured that he sealed the deal at the Solaire Open with a huge 25 footer birdie putt on the 15th hole.
“I was looking at the leaderboard out there. When I made birdie on 12, I told myself that if I can make one more birdie then I can make it happen. The birdie on 15 was a great and solid putt. I think that birdie made me win the tournament,” he smiled.
Chawalit, a four-time Asian Tour winner, narrowly missed a huge 35-feet birdie putt on the last which he needed to make to force a play-off.
“I was watching the leaderboard after 13 holes and I saw that I had a chance but I couldn’t sink my putts. It is very difficult to win a golf tournament if you do not have luck,” Chawalit lamented.
“I had about a 35-feet putt on the last and that almost went in. I had so many long putts that almost went into the hole. This is golf for you. My game is good so hopefully the win will come soon,” added the 39-year-old Thai.
Que stayed positive even though he missed out on what he claims to be his best chance to win on the Asian Tour again. He settled for tied 21st after shooting an 82 for a 287 total.
“I can’t take my round back. It is a lesson learnt from me. I feel bad because I had a chance to win but blew it on one hole. These things happen. That’s golf and life. All you can do is look back and see what you’ve learnt and move on. I just had one bad day. Everybody has bad days. Unfortunately for me, it had to be today and on one hole!” said Que.
Andrew Dodt, now back full time on the Asian Tour, finished 7th and led the Australians while Sam Brazel finished 10th.
Scores after round 4 of the Solaire Open being played at the par 71, 7206 Yards The Country Club course (a- denotes amateur):
277 – Richard T. LEE (CAN) 68-70-70-69.
278 – Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) 68-72-68-70.
279 – Carlos PIGEM (ESP) 69-70-71-69.
280 – Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) 71-69-75-65, Stephen LEWTON (ENG) 74-69-70-67, Paul PETERSON (USA) 72-68-71-69.
281 – Andrew DODT (AUS) 70-71-70-70, Clyde MONDILLA (PHI) 71-70-67-73, Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 67-68-70-76.
282 – Sam BRAZEL (AUS) 66-75-70-71, David LIPSKY (USA) 71-68-71-72.
283 – Bryce EASTON (RSA) 69-68-74-72, Akinori TANI (JPN) 69-72-67-75, WANG Jeung-hun (KOR) 71-67-68-77.