Bryce Easton grabbed his Asian Tour opportunity with both hands on Sunday as he fired a final round 64 to finish second behind Australia’s Scott Hend in the Chiangmai Golf Classic.
His 10-birdie effort – there was a frustrating double bogey on his card on the 15th in the final round which slowed what would have been a brilliant victory charge – took him roaring past third-round leader Prayad Marksaeng of the host country, and only Hend’s own 64 was enough to top him.
“Obviously I got the exemption this week and to take advantage of that and have a chance of winning was great,” said Easton. “It’s my first Asian Tour event. I’m trying to get some status out here – just trying to get the opportunity to play.”
And the opportunity opened wide for Easton who was playing on a sponsor’s invitation in Thailand. “The goal was to sneak into the top five to get into next week (the R300,000 Pansonic Open India). That was all I was trying to do,” he said.
“I just like the idea of playing in Asia. I’m from Durban. I don’t mind the climate. I think the Asian Tour is growing in each and every year and it’s going to keep getting better.
“I was disappointed to miss the Q-School by one shot. I won stage one and had two nightmare rounds in final stage which was quite tough.
“I played great today. I got going nicely and got into a position to win. That’s what we all want to do. I made a few putts. Yesterday, I shot level par which was disappointing. I gave myself a lot of chances but missed many chances. Today, I hit a few close early and made a couple of putts and kept building on that. I just kept heading in the right direction.”
The second spot vaulted him into seventh on the Asian Tour Order of Merit after just the one tournament. The players above him have all played four or five, and, if he continues in the same vein in the Panasonic India Open, he could find himself in contention for the overall title.
A win there would be his third as a professional after he won twice on the Sunshine Tour in 2012. Another good performance could see him stay on in Asia for the Solaire Open in the Phillipines before he heads back to Southern Africa for the next Sunshine Tour event, the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open on April 17.
Behind him, Jbe’ Kruger also closed with a 64 to finish in a share of fifth, while Ernie Els shared 14th. Anton Haig was in 20th while Adilson Da Silva didn’t make it to the weekend.