By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
The 21-year-old Bangkokian, after a neck-and-neck battle with two-time ATGT winner Sarit, carded an impressive birdie from the green fringe on the 17th hole to grab a lead and went on to lift his maiden title with a final 68 and a total 21 under-par-263 on the par-71 7,287-yard landscape.
His shocking win shattered the dream of Sarit, who had to win on Sunday to end the year as the Order of Merits winner on the ATGT.
Sarit was tied with Panuwat at 20 under after 15 holes and had only himself to blame for a poor bogey on the 16th that pushed him backward before settling at second on 20 under-par-264.
“I just came here hoping to make the cut,” said Panuwat, who stayed cool and calm despite playing in the leading squad in a big tournament for only the second time in his career.
“I just shut out everything around me and remained focused on my game plan. I was quite surprised to win.”
Panuwat walked away with the winner’s cheque of Bt600,000.
“The turning point was when Sarit missed his putt on the 16th while I chipped in a birdie on the 17th. I was confident from then on that I was going to win,” added Panuwat, who’s set his sights on joining the Asian Tour in 2020.
“My goal is to qualify for the Asian Tour next season. Wining the last All Thailand Golf Tour of the year really boosts my confidence.”
Itthipat Buranatanyarat, despite finishing tied fifth with Kosuke Hamamoto from Chiang Mai on 15 under-par-269, emerged the top money-maker on the tour with a total gross of Bt1.3 million, which earned him the Order of Merits title.
Sarit had to be content at third with Bt1.23 million, with Kwanchai Tannin, a two-time winner this year, finishing second with Bt1.26 million.