23 January 2022: Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana secured the biggest title of his fledging career today when he won the US$1.25 million SMBC Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club. Veer Ahlawat began the day with five birdies in six holes to move into second place, but his putter turned cold from there. After reaching the seventeenth with straight pars, Ahlawat sought to force the issue, but ended up conceding a double and a bogey to finish the week in T5, 7-under with two others – Doyeob Mun and Jarin Todd. He shot 69 in the final round.
The top four secured spots in the 150th Open, so the promising start and the painful finish will hurt Ahlawat. But, he can also take plenty of positives from the week, having played solid golf throughout.
Shiv Kapur also closed with a 69 to secure a top ten finish at 5-under. Viraj Madappa ended the week in T48 at four-over. Rashid Khan was a further stroke back at 5-over. Chikkarangappa was the only other Indian to make the weekend, and he finished at 8-over for the tournament.
Katsuragawa returned a 68 while Kim wrapped up the Asian Tour Order of Merit title after signing for 69.
Sihwan Kim, who started the day sharing the lead, carded a 73 to take fourth place.
All four players booked their tickets to this year’s Open Championship at St Andrews as this week’s event is part of the Open Qualifying Series.
Sadom produced another inspired level of golf today that confirmed his status as one of hottest young golfers in the region and a star of the future.
The 23 year old was never really challenged on an extremely hot day. After Sihwan Kim made bogey on the first Sadom took the outright lead and did not look back. Birdies on six and seven saw him move three ahead and he calmly parred his way home and enjoyed the comfort of a three-shot lead playing 18.
He picked up a cheque for US$225,000 and finished the year in second place on the Merit list, with US$378,972.
Sadom Kaewkanjana, Yuto Katsuragawa, Joohyung Kim and Sihwan Kim have secured their places in The 150th Open following the SMBC Singapore Open.
The victory continued Sadom’s remarkable recent run of form: in the final three months of last year, he won five times in Thailand, including the Thailand Open.
He’s won once before on the Asian Tour, at the 2019 Bangabandhu Cup Golf Open –which saw him become the fastest Qualifying School graduate to win on Tour as it was his first start after graduating.
“This is amazing, it wasn’t easy,” said Sadom, who was also bogey free on Saturday.
“It has taken a lot of hard work to get here, especially over the last two years. This is a great way to start the year. I hope it’s the start of a great year.”
Joohyung Kim, aged 19, fought hard to catch him but it was not to be his day.
He said: “Just trying to grind it out. It’s too bad, I felt like I had a shot, but obviously I couldn’t be so aggressive because just knowing that I had The Open on the line as well. I just tried to play through my game and I felt like I didn’t have my 100% today and it’s pretty disappointing. But we learn, and hopefully just come back stronger.”
He becomes the second youngest winner of the coveted Merit title after compatriot Seungyul Noh – who was also 19 when he won in 2010 but he is a month younger.
The tournament’s star player, Paul Casey from England produced his best performance of the week by shooting 66 to tie for 16th, while Thailand’s 14-year-old amateur sensation Ratchanon Chantananuwat closed with a 71 to finish equal 34th.
Koh Dengshan ended as the leading Singaporean after coming in with a 73 to tie 60th.
By being the top local player, he booked his place in the field for next month’s PIF Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.
The Asian Tour commences its 2022 season at the US$5 million Saudi event, which will be played at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club from February 3-6.
The top-30 players from today’s final Merit list have qualified for the event.