Thai Chapchai beats Els’ Tour record with 32-under

When you shoot 62-62 in your first two rounds, you would be forgiven for entertaining thoughts of a world record of some sort. Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat, though, would have you believe that the title was his main priority.

As it turned out, he got both. The 25-year-old nailed a birdie on the final hole of the SAIL Open in India to close with five-under 67 and set an Asian Tour record of 32-under-par 256.

Australian Richard Moir and India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar trailed a distant 11 strokes behind as Chapchai beat the previous Asian Tour record of 29-under-par, achieved by South African Ernie Els when he won the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth.

According to an AP report, his performance was also believed to be the lower-ever round over 72 holes on any global tour. On the PGA Tour, Els scored a tour-lowest 31-under-par at the 2003 Mercedes Championship, a par 73.

His achievement also left his rivals in awe, with Moir shaking his head in disbelief at Chapchai’s huge drives, which the Australian said rendered the par-fours as if they were par-threes.

Chapchai, himself, made the understatement of his career when he said he was playing the best golf of his life. He was quoted on the Asian Tour website as saying:

“This win has given me a lot of confidence and I think I will now be able to take this momentum forward and probably win two to three more tournaments this year. My target was just to win and I did not think of the record so there was no pressure during the final birdie putt which helped me break the record.”

American audiences may get a chance to see his booming drives next season because Chapchai plans to have a crack at the PGA Tour via the qualifying school.

Meanwhile, Argentina’s Estanislao Goya won the Madeira Islands Open BPI – Portugal in only his sixth tournament as a fully fledged European Tour player.

The 20-year-old hung on for victory despite a closing round of 73 for a total of six-under-par 278. That was good enough for a one-stroke victory over Scotland’s Callum Macaulay, who finished strongly with a 64 but was just unable to catch the youngster from Cordoba.

Dutchman Wil Besseling (69) and Ireland’s Damien McGrane (72) shared third place on 280 while Englishman Anthony Wall finished with a 67 for 281 and fifth place.

Goya shoots up to 50, from 150, in the Race to Dubai standings and, with this win, is now looking for greater things in his career. The European Challenge Tour graduate said on the official website:

“It’s great for me – I am so happy to have made one of my dreams come true. I want to be one of the best players in the world and this is one of the steps that I have to take to do that. It’s amazing that I have my Tour card for the next two years and a win here in Madeira. It was just over a year ago that I was thinking how much I would love to play in Europe and here I am now having won – it has happened so quickly.”

Goya was not the only newcomer to perform well. Macaulay, himself, is playing in only his fifth tournament. The Scot had a storming finish, hitting birdie on his final six holes to chase Goya all the way to the wire.

On the PGA Tour, South African Retief Goosen won his first title in four years when he took the Transitions Championship in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Goosen, the former US Open champion, fired one-under-par 70 in the fourth round for a total of eight-under 276 and a one-shot triumph over the American pair of Brett Quigley and Charles Howell III.

It was his first title since the 2005 international and came at an appropriate time with the US Masters just around the corner.

Mathew Goggin (67), Steve Stricker (69) and Charlie Wi (69) shared third place on 278.

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