DOHA: South Korea's Wang Jeung-hun squandered an overnight three-shot lead but held his nerve to win a thrilling Qatar Masters in a tense, three-way play-off on Sunday (Jan 29).
Wang holed a five foot putt on the first play-off hole to secure a hard-fought victory over South Africa's Jaco Van Zyl and Sweden's Joakim Lagergren. The trio had all finished sixteen-under-par to force the play-off.
"It feels really fantastic for me, it's really, really great," said a jubilant Wang after his first ever appearance at Doha. He also admitted he had never experienced such jitters on a golf course before.
"I got nervous like crazy on the back nine. I missed every iron shot I made." He added that he would celebrate by "drinking some beer".
The victory is Wang's third European Tour event title and confirms his growing potential as he has already been tipped by some as a future Major winner.
It also increases his chances of being ranked in the top 50 players in the world and making this year's US Masters.
Wang, last year named as the European Tour's "Rookie of the Year", started the week in Doha ranked number 60 in the world. "That's my dream, when I was young I really wanted to play the Masters," he said.
And with the victory coming at the age of 21 years and 144 days, he also become the youngest ever winner of the Qatar event.
Former US Masters winner Adam Scott was the previous youngest, who was a 100 days older when he won in 2002.
Wang is also the first Asian winner of the Qatar Masters, now in its 20th year.
The South Korean had come agonisingly close to winning in regulation, leaving a birdie putt, which would have clinched victory, an inch short on the 18th.
With that miss there seemed a growing feeling that Wang's day was not going to end in victory.
He had started Sunday three shots ahead of a large chasing pack and two birdies on the first two holes appeared to indicate that he would not be daunted by the pressure of leading.
But as the finishing line approached and the weather deteriorated, he tensed up bogeying the 14th and 17th holes and making just one birdie on the back nine at the par-four 16th.
His rivals smelled blood and Wang, on his way to a week's worst round for him of 71, was pursued not only by Van Zyl and Lagergren, but also France's Mike Lorenzo-Vera and South Africa's Thomas Aiken who all shared the lead at one point in a tight finish.
Lagergren and Lorenzo-Vera shot six-under-par rounds of 66 to force their way into contention, including an eagle two at the 16th for the Frenchman. But a bogey on the par-three 17th scuppered his chances.
"That was cool until the end," said Lorenzo-Vera. "I'm very disappointed by the finish but pleased I managed to put myself in position."