In the end, it took a teenager to tame The Beast that is the World Classic course at Laguna National.
Thailand's Danthai Boonma fired a two-under 69 for a two-under 282 total to win the US$750,000 (S$1.07 million) World Classic Championship yesterday.
It is the 19-year-old's maiden Asian Tour golf title and second crown in the Republic. He had also won the Singapore Open Amateur Championship in June last year.
The Tour rookie beat 25-year-old Malaysian Nicholas Fung (72) by one stroke to pocket the winner's cheque of US$135,000.
A shot further back was 20-year-old South Korean Wang Jeung Hun (69).
WORLD CLASSIC CHAMPIONSHIP
282 Danthai Boonma (Tha) 72 69 72 69
283 Nicholas Fung (Mas) 74 67 70 72
284 Wang Jeung Hun (Kor) 69 75 71 69
285 Sam Brazel (Aus) 69 74 72 70
286 Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 71 71 77 67, Prom Meesawat (Tha) 73 73 70 70, Chapchai Nirat (Tha) 76 69 69 72
287 Scott Barr (Aus) 69 71 76 71, Danny Chia (Mas) 73 72 70 72
Danthai, a Khon Kaen native, said with a laugh: "It is fantastic. I like Singapore a lot and I feel that I can always win here."
Using his hands to make a gesture like furious waves along the sea, he described how he dealt with the course's daunting layout: "It's (the course) so tough, and the greens are sloped, it is easy for things to go wrong. So I needed to keep my focus and I just played it shot by shot."
He had entered the final round just two shots behind Fung and Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh, who had been consistent all week till yesterday, when he recorded a disastrous 11-over 82 to finish on nine- over 293 and tie for 30th place.
The final round proved a roller coaster, with the lead changing hands among five different players - Danny Chia of Malaysia, Sam Brazel of Australia, Wang, Fung and Danthai.
Fung had clung on to the top spot from the tee-off but his challenge unravelled at the 16th, where he missed a two-foot birdie putt.
Danthai, meanwhile, had surged to the top of the leader board by sinking three birdies on holes 10, 12 and 13 and aided by Fung's error on the 16th, the Thai seized the outright lead on the 17th.
Fung had one last chance to force a play-off on the 18th but he missed a nine-foot birdie putt, handing the victory to the jubilant Danthai, who exchanged hugs with his Thai compatriots.
While Fung rued his missed shots, he was thankful to get his best showing on the Tour. His previous-best finish was fourth in the King's Cup in Bangkok last November. He said: "I knew that the 18th is a birdie hole, but I misjudged my shot.
"To finish second, I'll take it. I'm happy with how I've played this week, I've learnt that I have to be patient and skilful."
Chia (72) eventually tied for eighth on 287, while Brazel (70) was fourth on 285.
The only Singaporean to make the cut, Choo Tze Huang, posted his best round of 71 to close on eight- over 292 and tie for 20th.
He said: "It's a big improvement from previous rounds. I tried my best and enjoyed myself playing out there. I'm happy that I finished well.
"I hope that next time, more Singaporeans like Quincy (Quek), (Koh) Deng Shan and Mardan (Mamat) can make the cut too."