Donaldson and Westwood back in Top 50; G-Mac sixth in Shootout

Jamie Donaldson and Lee Westwood finished 1-2 in the Thailand Golf Championship to return to the world’s top 50 and qualified for the Open alongside 16-year old Thai Phachara Khongwatmai and Clement Sordet.

Donaldson closed with a brilliant, seven under par 65 to win by three shots on 21 under par from Westwood (67) and Clement Sordet (70) of France with Sergio Garcia (69) and Korea’s Byeonghun An (70) tied fourth on 14 under.

Darren Clarke, who had a chance to record his first ranking top 10 for more than two years, ended up slipping from 14th to tied 30th on four under after making four birdies, one bogey and three double bogeys in a closing 75.

The Ryder Cup skipper has had a busy four week stretch and now heads to the Bahamas for Christmas with his family.

Bubba Watson tied for 15th after a 67 that featured a hole in one at the fifth.

Donaldson, Westwood, Sordet and Monday qualifier, 16-year old Thai star Khongwatmai , took the four exemptions into The Open at Royal Troon.

Jamie Donaldson (Wal) – Final Round 65 (-7), Total 267 (-21)

"It has been an awesome week. I’ve been to Thailand only once before and that was in 2003 and it was great to come back to Thailand. The Amata Spring is an awesome venue for an awesome tournament.

"This is a very special win for me. There are a lot of good players playing in the tournament this week. The field is very strong and to beat these guys is great. This is certainly one of my best victories.

"It’s a bonus to secure a spot for The Open next year. It’s very important to win to keep your irons hot. It’s very important to keep yourself hydrated playing in this heat. It’s been incredibly hot this week and that was probably the hardest thing. It was great playing with Lee (Westwood) and Clement (Sordet) today.  It was a great test of golf.

"I had a great birdie on 15 after hitting two very good shots before sinking a 20-footer putt. I pushed my tee shot a little bit on the 16 and it went to the back left pin. The two of them played some great shots and both of them birdied. My comfortable three-shot lead was reduced to one after 16 and with 17 and 18 coming up, I just had to remain calm and keep hitting good shot. In the end, it was enough to win.

"Since it went off, I had a perfect lie on 17. I was right on it but it was mounted in. I figured the grain was into it so I just gave it a bit more push to make sure it gets into the hole. That was five foot past the hole. I was just very happy to get a good lie.

"The 17th is a very good hole. It’s very similar to the saw grass. It’s beautiful, for the fact that you can move the green and set it to wherever you want. It’s just amazing. It will be tough with a pitching wedge but you can just get a six or seven iron in. It’s harder when the wind blows.

"I had about seven to eight years in my career where I improved on my world ranking every year and with the peak being my best season in 2014. It’s difficult to keep improving. I did everything thing that I did every year. It just gets better. You’re certainly off to a different run when you win.

"This week was our first week back. It’s obviously very important. He’s a very good caddie and we just gotten off very well. I was joking with him ‘Where have you been?’.

"I did quite a lot of fitness last week, cardio, etc. My legs would have gotten a lot more tired after the hard work last week. A few factors which helped me play well this week. This is my last tournament for the year so I will head home and see my Mrs and the kids and then it’s time for Christmas.

"We chatted quite a lot out there. Lee is a good golfer. It wasn’t quite his day today but he played nicely. Clement played very well as well. He wouldn’t go away. He has played a couple of good shots today.

"I want to come back here again next year to defend. It has been an awesome week. We have been looked after well. I would really love to come back to defend.

"There are a lot of good Thai players around like Thongchai (Jaidee) and Kiradech (Aphibarnrat). I haven’t played with Phachara Khongwatmai but I think he played with Darren Clarke this week. He’s a really good talent. I remember I was still a seven-handicap when I was 16. He looks like one for the future. There are a lot of strong Thai players around. The golf scene in Thailand is definitely growing from strength to strength.

"I’ve been to only Phuket and I haven’t been around Thailand actually. I would love to bring my family here next time and enjoy Thailand a bit more."

Lee Westwood (Eng) – Final Round 67 (-5), Total 270 (-18)

"It’s great to be have made it into The Open,” he said. “I’ve played every one since 1995 so it’s great to keep that run going. It’s been 21 years now and I’ve not missed one, so I’m happy. I’ve played Troon quite a few times, finished fourth one year [2004] so that was pretty good. I like the golf course. It’s a traditional links course-straight out straight back and everything you want from a links course."

Clement Sordet (Fra) – Final Round 70 (-2), Total 270 (-18)

"It’s been an incredible six months as a professional and great to end the year with a spot secured for The Open next year. I didn’t expect this. I am very happy to get an invite for this tournament. It has been a great week. It’s going to be my debut appearance in a major and I think I am just going to enjoy every moment of it.

"I played really great golf this week. I was very fortunate to get an invite and it’s great to finish tied-second with Lee (Westwood). It was just amazing to get to play in the last group with Jamie (Donaldson) and Lee. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t really thinking about the score out there.

"I was just playing my own game and my caddy helped me a lot today. I just stayed patient and played shot by shot. This is my final event for the year and I am starting again next year at the end of March on the challenge Tour."

Byeonghun An (Kor) – Final Round 70 (-2), Total 274 (-14)

"It was a great week. I played pretty solid. I missed a couple of chances but the leaders played really well. it wasn’t really my way.  There are a lot of positives to take away from this week and I’m quite happy with my result.

"This is my final event for the year. I will have a good break before heading to Malaysia for the EurAsia Cup next month. It was good to have a decent year. I am very excited to play in the EurAsia Cup.

Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha) – Final Round 66 (-6), Total 275 (-13)

"I had a great day out there. I didn’t expect myself to play so good! It was an agonising missed putt on the last but overall, I played really well. My putting was solid the whole day. I came through the Qualifier on Monday and I was already very happy to get a chance to play with the top stars this week. I didn’t think so much and I surprised even myself to finish so well.

"This is my second time playing in the Thailand Golf Championship and I missed the halfway cut last year. The three straight birdies from 11th gave me a lot of confidence heading into the end of the round. I am really happy with how I played.

"I played with no expectations so I guess that was the key to playing well today. I am overwhelmed with happiness that I can be able to be included in The Open match next year.

"The season hasn’t been great on the Asian Tour actually. I won once and secured a couple of top-five on the Asian Development Tour but I haven’t been able to perform on the Asian Tour. Hopefully this result will help me keep my Asian Tour card for next season."

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) – Final Round 68 (-4), Total 276 (-12)

"I love coming back to play at home. I have got a lot of home ground support from my friends and family. I didn’t play as well as I had expected myself to do so it was quite disappointing. I have been finishing top-10 here every year but being able to win. I was trying to keep the trophy at home but it feels really difficult for me this week.

This is my last event for the year and I will take a break, keeping my body fit and firm for the next season. My aim is to try and boost my world ranking next year. I am looking forward to playing in the EurAsia Cup next month. It definitely brings back a lot of memories!"

S.S.P Chawrasia (Ind) – Final Round 67 (-5), Total 276 (-12)

"The back-to-back bogeys on 16th and 17th really cost me a lot, in fact a spot in The Open next year. If not for the bogeys, I would have made it 100% into The Open. I drove it into a thick rough on 16th and on the 17th, I hit a good shot but my approach shot overshot the pin and bounced into the water. I had a good save for par on the last so it was alright. I had a good run from the sixth and I gave myself good opportunities for birdies."

Jin Cheng (A) (Chn) – Final Round 69 (-3), 278 (-10)

"It’s been a pretty good week all over. I especially played well the last three days.

“I hadn’t heard about what Darren tweeted but I have to say I played today with a guy who’s younger than me [Thai 16-year-old Phachara Khongwatmai] so maybe Darren should take a look at him. He’s pretty good too.

I enjoyed my time with Darren and will do what he told me. You just have to listen to a guy who’s done so  much in the game.

This event has giving me lots of confidence. It was great opportunity ot be in the field with so many great names. I think I done for 2015 now. I need to rest a bit and I have a big year ahead with school …and of course Augusta.

Bubba Watson (Usa) – Final Round 67 (-5), Total 280 (-8)

It made the week pretty special. It’s my fifth hole in one but the first time in competition so obviously it was nice. It got the round going. I just wish I could have held it together for a top-10 finish. But all in all it was a good day.

I wasn’t trying to win. There was no chance I was going to win. It was just about improving. No matter what happens coming down the stretch it was my second best tournament here. I improved a little bit so it was good.

We going hang out now and just enjoy it [Christmas]. Our kids are getting a little bit older so they’re starting to understand presents. So there’ll probably be a lot of presents, a lot of money wasted on presents under the tree there.

G-Mac ends year with sixth at Shootout

Graeme McDowell and Gary Woodland closed with a 67 to finish sixth in the Franklin Templeton Shootout and earn $90,000.
But victory went to Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker, who birdied the last two holes in Saturday’s betterball format and won the title by two shots on 30-under 186 at Tiburon Golf Club.
“I’m pretty consistent, I’m in the fairway, I’m on the greens. That gives him a lot of confidence,” Dufner said. “He putts really well so that gives me more confidence. I was able to stroke the ball a lot freer this week.”
Added Snedeker: “I play with Jason a lot and this is the best I’ve ever seen him roll it.”
Harris English and Matt Kuchar, who have finished first, second and second the past three years, shot 28 under for second. Charley Hoffman and PGA Rookie of the Year Daniel Berger finished at 27 under.