Kuala Lumpur, Oct 22: Veteran Thai golfer Thaworn Wiratchant aims to become the oldest champion of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit after notching a third win of the season and recording his 15th career title at the Indian Open in Bangalore.
The 45-year-old continued to produce some of the best golf of his life in Bangalore Sunday to win the title in a play-off against Scotsman Richie Ramsay as he leapfrogged into top spot of the Merit list and added $198,125 to his season’s haul of $547,031.
His 2012 earnings have already surpassed his previous season’s best of $510,123 in 2005, the year he become Asia’s No.1.
With several big-money events coming up, Wiratchant is hoping to enter the record books as the oldest Merit champion and the evergreen Thai, who has played in eight consecutive weeks, is not about to take his foot off the pedal.
He will turn his attention to this week’s $6.1 million CIMB Classic at the Mines Resort and Golf Club in Malaysia where he will face the likes of 14-time Major champion Tiger Woods and title holder Bo Van Pelt.
“It is nice to lead the Order of Merit and there are many big tournaments coming up. I want to win it (Order of Merit) but it will depend on how I play in the next few events. I have a good chance of winning but I’ll need to continue my form,” said Wiratchant, who also moved up 27 places to 84th on the official World Golf Rankings.
Although this week’s CIMB Classic will not count towards the Merit race, Wiratchant will have his eyes firmly on this week’s top prize of $1.3 million.
“I only aim to win when I play in any tournament. Every time I’m in the field, my only goal is to win. I have to admit that it is getting harder as I get older and the young players are so good now. Just look at Gaganjeet Bhullar (winner of the Macau Open two weeks ago). He is such a good player,” said Wiratchant.
Wiratchant claimed victory at the Queen’s Cup on home soil in June to tie countryman Thongchai Jaidee for the most career wins and then edged ahead with a second title of the season at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in Malaysia in August.
The Thai wasn’t expecting to win in India as Ramsay was in total control until a slip-up on the 72nd hole where he three putted for bogey. The Scotsman then sent a tee shot into a creek in the first play-off hole which allowed Wiratchant to win the tournament with a bogey.
“I never thought I was going to win because my driver wasn’t good enough. I was expecting to finish in the top-five,” he said.
The other Asian Tour players in this week’s CIMB Classic which starts Thursday are India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri, Australia’s Marcus Fraser, who is second on the Merit list, and Scott Hend, Japan’s Masanori Kobayashi, South Africa’s Jbe Kruger, Thailand’s Prom Meesawat, Bangladeshi Siddikur and American David Lipsky.