Saturday, 27th April, 2024.

Nguyen Duc Son outlasted Japan’s Masato Sumiuchi to become the second successive Vietnamese to savour success in the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final.

Showing no signs of nerves, 17-year-old Duc Son got up-and-down in two from the edge of the 18th green at Laguna Lang Co for a winning birdie-four at the second hole of a tense sudden-death play-off.

Twenty minutes earlier, Duc Son and 19-year-old Sumiuchi both holed tricky four-foot birdie putts on the first extra hole after expertly extricating themselves from a deep greenside bunker.

“Congratulations to Duc Son. That was a great way to finish the tournament,” said six-time Major champion Sir Nick Faldo, the Laguna Lang Co course designer who braved extreme heat to follow the final groups.

“I’m thrilled to win,” said Duc Son, who was mobbed by excited friends and family on the 18th green after coolly slotting a five-foot putt for victory, having watched his Japanese rival’s 10-foot birdie attempt slip past the cup.

Duc Son is just the second Vietnamese winner of the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, following in the footsteps of Nguyen Anh Minh, who triumphed last year in the 14th edition of one of the world’s most celebrated junior championships featuring boys and girls.

Runner-up in the last two events on the Vietnam Golf Association Junior Tour, Duc Son underlined his potential by winning the Lion Cup in Malaysia last year, an event for Southeast Asia’s most talented young juniors.

A member of Tam Dao Golf & Resort in Hanoi, Duc Son spent three months last year in Australia sharpening his game and is tentatively setting his sights on attending the PGA Tour of Australasia’s Qualifying School at the end of the year.

While Duc Son is currently 1,109th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), he will take considerable pride from defeating Sumiuchi.

Fifth in the 2022 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship at Amata Spring Country Club in Thailand and joint sixth individually at last year’s Hangzhou Asian Games, Sumiuchi is 88th in the WAGR, the number one rated Japanese.

While Sumiuchi was left to rue a costly double-bogey six on the penultimate hole in his closing 68, Duc Son had the distinction of being the only player in the field to break par in all three rounds with returns of 70, 69 and 69 on the par-71 layout.

Duc Son and other age category winners can now look forward to heading to Abu Dhabi to battle it out with elite junior golfers from around the world at the Faldo Junior Tour Europe Grand Final, to be held in November at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club in the UAE.

Inaugurated by Faldo after his victory at the 1996 US Masters, the Faldo Series is recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls. Competitors from ages 12 to 21 can test themselves against the best juniors around the world.

The Series has been a pathway for players to reach the game’s top levels, with more than 70 Faldo Series competitors now playing on professional Tours. Notable alumni include Major winners Rory McIlroyDanny Willett and Tseng Ya-ni.

The global junior series expanded into Asia in 2006, recognising the potential of the Asian junior golf circuit. Since then, Laguna Lang Co has played a central role in the initiative as the host venue for the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, a reflection of its status as a Sir Nick Faldo Signature course, an elite category among Faldo designs.

During the presentation, Sir Nick said ‘It has been another incredible week at Laguna Lăng Co, played over my signature Design that stood the test and ended with our second Vietnamese champion in Nguyen Duc Son. I am proud the Series in Asia has grown over 15 years to provide international competition to so many nations juniors that get to experience travelling worldwide, often for the first time. We’re energised at the Series to action conversations that will provide new opportunities in emerging golfing nations to expand our great game’.

Leading Final Overall Scores

208 – Nguyen Duc Son (Vietnam)* 70-69-69; Masato Sumiuchi (Japan) 68-72-68.
210 – Doan Uy (Vietnam) 72-70-68; Wang Ngai Shen (Hong Kong, China) 73-65-72.
211 – Le Chuc An (Vietnam) 71-69-71.
212 – Coby Caruthers (Australia) 69-73-70; Michelle Bang (Australia) 68-71-73.

*Nguyen Duc Son won sudden-death play-off at second extra hole.

Boys 21 and under

208 – Nguyen Duc Son (Vietnam)* 70-69-69; Masato Sumiuchi (Japan) 68-72-68.
210 – Doan Uy (Vietnam) 72-70-68; Wang Ngai Shen (Hong Kong, China) 73-65-72.
212 – Coby Caruthers (Australia) 69-73-70

*Nguyen Duc Son won sudden-death play-off at second extra hole.

Boys 16 and under

222 – Shing Hei Anson Tam (Hong Kong, China) 74-67-81*; Jamie Smith (Australia) 74-72-76
223 – Muhammad Ajmal Amin (Malaysia) 79-75-69

*Tam won sudden-death play-off at first extra hole

Girls 21 and under

212 – Michelle Bang (Australia) 68-71-73
234 – Chutikran Phermthongmak (Thailand) 78-73-83
237 – Humna Amjad (Pakistan) 82-79-76

Girls 16 and under

211 – Le Chuc An (Vietnam) 71-69-71
218 – Reina Todaka (Japan) 74-68-76
222 – Le Nguyen Anh Minh (Vietnam) 73-77-72

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