Finch and Saltus dominate

It was an English-American double in two Asia-Pacific tournaments over the weekend as the European Tour went Down Under and the Asian Tour inched closer to season’s end.

England’s Richard Finch was the star at the picturesque Hills Golf Club in Queenstown as he won his first professional title with victory in the New Zealand Open, where he won by three strokes.

Meanwhile, in Siem Reap, American Brian Saltus also claimed a maiden title by winning the inaugural Cambodian Open.

In Finch’s case, it was a victory that helped to boost his standing on the circuit having narrowly regained his card for the 2008 season.

The 30-year-old fired a closing round of even-par 72 for a total of 14-under-par 274.

In second place were two Australians, Steven Bowditch and Paul Sheehan. Bowditch started the day 11 under but ruined his title hopes after dropping five shots before an eagle on the 17th brought him back to parity.

There was also a treat for the crowd with 71-year-old Kiwi legend Bob Charles scoring his age or better for the third round in a row. Charles shot a final round 70 to finish four under for the tournament.

In Cambodia, Saltus triumphed after a final round of five-under-par 67 for a total of 17-under-par 271 and a three-stroke victory over Australian Adam Groom.

Saltus, who jumped into the water beside the 18th hole after his final putt, dedicated his victory to, of all people, the famous American rock band, The Grateful Dead.

The 36-year-old, who has apparently been to see the Dead 153 times, told the Asian Tour website:

“This is awesome. I would like to dedicate this win to Grateful Dead as they have inspired me all the way. Siem Reap is right up my alley so I’ve enjoyed my time on and off the course this week.”

Groom shot a 71 to finish his tournament at 274 while three shots further adrift were the Thai pair of Prom Meesawat and Thaworn Wiratchant.

It was the penultimate tournament of the 2007 Asian Tour calendar with the final event being the Volvo Masters of Asia at the Thai Country Club in Bangkok, Thailand this week.

Meanwhile, next year’s Dubai Desert Classic received a major boost with world number one Tiger Woods confirming his participation in the event.

The tournament is from January 29 to February 3 at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, where Woods and his design team are building a new course in the tourism and leisure centre of Dubailand.

It will be Woods’ fifth appearance at the tournament.

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