HUA HIN: Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka claimed his third title of the season Sunday when he won the $600,000 Black Mountain Masters after a play-off against Thai youngster Namchoak Tantipokakul. Hiratsuka triumphed in the Asian Tour’s season-finale at the Black Mountain Golf Club with a par at the first play-off hole on the par-five 18th to pip Namchoak, who bogeyed in extra time. The Japanese veteran, who also won the Air Bagan Myanmar Open and Queen’s Cup in Thailand earlier this season, signed off with a one-under-par 71 and was caught by a fast-charging Namchoak, who ended with a 65 for a 14-under-par 274 in a thrilling end to the season. “After I missed a putt (to win in regulation), I knew I still had a chance in the play-off,” said the 39-year-old Hiratsuka, whose $95,100 cheque saw him end the season in fifth place on the final Order of Merit.
“There were no easy putts out there, even when the putts were short. I tried hard every day. I love the Asian Tour and now I want to concentrate on improving my world ranking and break into the top-50,” added Hiratsuka, who was ranked 82nd entering the Black Mountain Masters. Namchoak didn’t quite live up to his nickname of “Lucky” despite a stunning final round which included seven birdies against no bogeys.The 23-year-old found some consolation, however, as his $65,100 cheque has helped him to earn his Asian Tour card for next season, with the Thai finishing 35th on the merit list. Overnight leader Piya Swangarunporn was dealt a double blow when he missed out on the play-off by one shot after closing with a 73 to discover he had missed his Tour card by a mere $205. It was also heartbreak for Lee Sung of South Korea, who bogeyed his last hole to finish one shot shy of the play-off in his round of 70. Thai star Thongchai Jaidee, who was in the thick of battle, fell off the pace with a double bogey, bogey, bogey run from the 11th hole to eventually finish seventh, two shots back – Dailytimes