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Garcia’s 61 gives him Johor Open glory

Spaniard wins in Kuala Lumpur as veteran Wiratchant takes order of merit title

Gulf News

Kuala Lumpur: Spain’s Sergio Garcia fired a sparkling 11-under-par 61 to claim the weather-hit Iskandar Johor Open on Sunday 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 (Dh7.71 million) season-ending event to 54 holes and more adverse weather forced a further delay in play on Sunday.

Garcia, though, did not let it affect him as he produced some brilliant golf to finish the three rounds with an 18-under total of 198 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,” said world No 20 Garcia. “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 Wiratchant 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,” Wiratchant said. “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.

Big-hitting American John Daly also shot a 65 to finish tied 15th on eight under while multiple major winner Ernie Els completed a disappointing week with a final round of level par for a three-under total in tied 48th.