Phatlum triumphs at Majlis to win Dubai Ladies Masters
Over the years, the par-5 18th hole has proved to be the sting in Majlis’ tail. Many tournaments have been won here with heroic eagles, and many have been lost by leaders finding trouble and making doubles.
World No3 Stacy Lewis did not deviate from a par, and it was a gutsy third shot that she hit from thick rough to set it up, but she still lost the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters by one shot as the ever-smiling Pornanong Phatlum made a birdie with surgical precision there.
The Thai, a regular on the LPGA Tour and ranked 47th in the world, had done enough good work before that to reel in the leader, and she was also helped by an enthusiastic fan, who disturbed Lewis while on the downswing of her birdie putt on the 17th hole.
Lewis missed and made a par, while Phatlum, who had drilled her approach shot to less than two feet, converted her birdie and joined Lewis on top of the leaderboard for the first time.
One of the most widely-believed adages in golf is that tournaments are won on the back nines on the final day. And that was exactly the spell where Phatlum was terrific.
She was three-under par with four birdies and a bogey on her way back, while Lewis made just one birdie, on the 10th, and did not take advantage of Phatlum’s bogey on the 15th by making one of her own.
It was the best possible birthday gift the diminutive Thai, who turned 24 on Wednesday, could have given herself. She finished with six-under par 66 for a tournament tally of 15-under par 273.
“This really is a special week for me. December 4 was my birthday and the King of Thailand’s birthday was on December 5. I am in the UAE and December 2 was UAE’s National Day,” said Pornanong, who had her brother, Pornapong, on her bag and her parents in the gallery.
“I’m very excited right now. When I’m on the course, I just play my game and I didn’t think about winning so that I don’t put pressure on myself. I try just to be calm and play on my game and enjoy the course.
“I really did not think I have to beat Stacy, or anything like that. All I wanted to do was play well. And I am a lot more experienced in handling the pressure now after playing on the LPGA Tour.”
The win was worth €75,000 for her, having started the day two shots behind Lewis, who never looked like losing after taking a three-stroke lead over Pornanong after making her fourth birdie of the day at the par-5 10th hole.
But as Lewis could only make pars on the par-5 13th and the par-4 14th, Pornanong drained a 10-footer birdie putt on the 13th, and then hit a superb 4-iron to seven feet for another birdie on the 14th.
After the drama on the 17th, Lewis hit her tee shot into the rough on the 18th, and went on to make a gutsy par from there, but the young Thai almost holed her third shot, and then claimed the victory by making the remaining two-footer.
Lewis, who could not win her fourth title of the season but got her 11th straight finish inside the topeight since the beginning of July, said: “It’s been a really good year. It has had its highs and lows. I’ve played some really consistent golf.
“These last few months have kind of left a sour taste on it, just kind of losing a couple of tournaments right at the end.
“But if anything, that leaves me with stuff to work on in the off-season and just shows that there’s always room to get better.”
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda (71), Order of Merit winner last year, was alone in third place at seven-under par 281, with Italy’s Diane Luna (73) finishing fourth on 283.
Shanshan Feng, winner last year, got what she wanted at the beginning of the tournament – a top-five finish – and was tied fifth with Laura Davies at three-under par 285.
Charley Hull, the 17-year-old English phenomenon, won the Rookie of the Year award as she finished tied for eighth at two-under par 286. Her nearest rival, compatriot Holly Clyburn, who needed to finish much better than Hull, made a quadruple bogey on the 18th hole and slumped to 79 on Saturday.
SCORES (After final round, par-72)
273 – Pornanong Phatlum (THA) 68-70- 69-66
274 – Stacy Lewis (USA) 70-65-70-69
281 – Carlota Ciganda (ESP) 67-70-73-71
283 – Diana Luna (ITA) 73-68-69-73
285 – Shanshan Feng (CHN) 76-67-71-71, Laura Davies (ENG) 70-71-71-73, Louise Larsson (SWE) 72-71-68-74
286 – Charley Hull (ENG) 70-72-73-71, Jing Yan (Am-CHN) 75-72-68-71, Vikki Laing (SCO) 71-70-69-76
287 – Nontaya Srisawang (THA) 73-72-71-71, Pernilla Lindberg (SWE) 67-69-75-76
288 – Caroline Masson (GER) 69-72-78-69, Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA) 72-73-70, Sarah Kemp (AUS) 70-72-72-74
289 – Margherita Rijon (ITA) 73-76-72-68, Patcharajutar Kongkraphan (THA) 70-78- 73-68, Klara Spilkova (CZE) 74-73-73-69, Sophie Gustafson (SWE) 73-72-71-73, Cindy Lacrosse (USA) 73-70-73-73, Gwladys Nocera (FRA) 71-73-71-74