Thaworn sweeps Asian Tour awards


Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant was the toast at the Asian Tour’s Awards Night when he swept the Players’ Player of the Year Award and Special Achievement Award. The veteran Thai star, who turns 46 later this month, also picked up the Birdie Leader Award on Sunday night with his haul of 346 birdies throughout a sensational season which saw him lift three titles – the Queen’s Cup in Thailand, Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters and Hero Indian Open – and four runner-up finishes en route to becoming the oldest ever Merit winner on the Asian Tour.
Thaworn was delighted to earn the votes from his peers for the prestigious Players’ Player of the Year Award while the Special Achievement Award was determined through a selection committee which included golf writers from Asia and Tour officials. “I’m really happy. I’m an old man already and the players still picked me as their Players’ Player of the Year. It was also nice to win the Special Achievement Award which means a lot to me. This Sunday feels as good as 2005,” said Thaworn referring to the year when he was crowned Asia’s number one for the first time. “I want to thank the Asian Tour, the officials and all the players for their support. This is a special night,” added Thaworn after the Awards Night which was held at the Puteri Pacific Hotel here.
Thaworn, who earned a five-year exemption on the Asian Tour for his Merit success along with exemptions into the British Open and World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in 2013, wrapped up his magical season at the US$2 million Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia with a tied fifth finish, which took his year’s earnings to US$738,046.
Japan’s Masanori Kobayashi, who won the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open on home soil and finished tied fifth in Johor, picked up the Rookie of the Year Award after his memorable season. He earned his Tour card at Qualifying School in Thailand in January before finishing fourth on the Order of Merit with US$471,079. The Amata Spring Country Club, which hosted the Thailand Golf Championship earlier this month, was voted by the players as the Best Golf Course in 2012, narrowly edging Sentosa Golf Club which hosted the Barclays Singapore Open in November.
The Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club in Korea was picked as the Host Venue of the Year for its impressive facilities, services and F&B on offer during the CJ Invitational hosted by KJ Choi.
Australia’s Marcus Fraser, who finished second on the Order of Merit, scooped up two awards, the Lowest Stroke Average with his impressive season’s scoring of 69.27 and also the Lowest Putting Average Award with 1.71 putts per green in regulation.
Schwartzel wraps up win in South Africa
South African Charl Schwartzel completed his superb finish to 2012 with an amazing 12-stroke victory on home soil at the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Sunday. The third biggest winning margin in European Tour history was achieved at Leopard Creek a week after last year’s US Masters champion won in Thailand by 11 shots. Only Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, who won the 2000 US Open and 2005 Asian Open by 15 and 13 respectively, have left the best of the rest trailing so far behind in the circuit’s 40-year history. Schwartzel, 10 clear with a round to play, added a three-under-par 69 either side of a two-hour thunderstorm delay to take his eighth Tour title – five of them in South Africa – with a 24-under-par total. In the Thailand Championship he was 25 under, and for the past five weeks – they started with finishes of fifth, third and second – he is a staggering 84 under. France’s Gregory Bourdy, his closest challenger for virtually the entire weekend, took a double-bogey seven on the final hole and that elevated Swede Kristoffer Broberg, four times a winner on the Challenge Tour last season, into second place.