SPAIN’S Sergio Garcia fired a sparkling 11-under-par 61 to claim the weather-hit Iskandar Johor Open yesterday as Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant became the oldest winner of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit title.
Heavy storms in southern Malaysia had already cut the Asian Tour’s $2 million season-ending event to 54 holes and more adverse weather forced a further delay in play yesterday.
Garcia, though, did not let it affect him as he produced some brilliant golf to finish the three rounds with an 18-under 198 total and win by three from American Jonathan Moore (61).
“It has been a long week obviously because of the weather and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the week,” world No 20 Garcia told reporters. “It has been a great experience as this is my first time in Malaysia and to be able to win is a treat.
“The most important thing about playing under these kinds of conditions is to keep the momentum going especially with so much disruption. It’s hard to keep up mentally and I sort of did that yesterday morning where I finished poorly but today I came back strongly.”
The tournament’s highest-ranked player did not drop a shot during the final round at the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club, firing seven birdies to make the turn in 29 and spark hopes of a rare 59.
The 32-year-old Ryder Cup winner could only par his final two holes, though, as he signed for a joint-best round of the week to claim his second tournament win of the year, following his Wyndham Classic victory on the PGA Tour in August.
Thailand’s Thaworn was also celebrating as he produced a final-round 65 to finish tied fifth and clinch his second Asian Tour Order of Merit title ahead of his 46th birthday this month.
He had started the final round one shot behind Marcus Fraser, who trailed the Thai by $25,261 in the merit standings, but the Australian could close with only a level-par 72 for a share of 21st.
“I never thought I could win the Order of Merit at this age,” Thaworn told reporters. “I just enjoy playing week by week and meeting my friends on Tour. I’m quite happy with that.
“I put in a lot of effort and focus to win this year so I’m very happy that I finished as number one.”
Thaworn’s compatriot Thongchai Jaidee finished third, four shots behind Garcia with a 65, with overnight leader Daniel Chopra of Sweden a further shot back in fourth with a 69.
Garcia became the eighth member of Europe’s Ryder Cup side to win since their incredible comeback victory at the end of September. He joins Justin Rose, Peter Hanson, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell. Only Lee Westwood, Paul Lawrie, Francesco Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts have missed out – but they all got their hands on a trophy in the five months before the match.
John Daly also shot a 65 to finish tied 15th on eight-under while Ernie Els completed a disappointing week with a final round of level par for a three-under total in tied 48th.