Thailand beat England in a nearest the pin play-off to win the GolfSixes Cascais at Oitavos Dunes in Portugal.
Phachara Khongwatmai and Thongchai Jaidee were tied at 1-1 after six holes in the final against Tom Lewis and Paul Waring, with another trip up the sixth unable to separate the teams.
That meant the event would be decided with a nearest-the-pin shootout in the final for the first time in its three-year history, and it was Khongwatmai – 29 years his team-mate’s junior at just 20 years old – who hit his tee shot to within tap-in range to claim the win.
The sixth hole, which required a tee shot over a swimming pool, provided plenty of drama throughout the event, not least Jaidee’s hole-in-one to eliminate Ireland in the group stages. But even the 49 year old, with 393 European Tour appearances and eight wins under his belt, could never have experienced anything like these two days of six hole modified greensomes, which ended with the team-mates jumping into the pool to celebrate.
“We played well, but I think that teamwork was very important today,” said Jaidee. “I’m very happy to win again, and I’d like to thank my partner, Phachara, for help in making that happen.”
Khongwatmai added: “It was really fun to play with Thongchai for Thailand. He taught me about the format of the game and he was a great partner.”
After winning Group B on day one, Thailand beat Scotland and Spain to set up the clash with Group A winners England, who defeated Sweden and Italy in the knockout stages.
Waring went over the back of the green with England’s approach to the first in the final and they could not get up and down, allowing Thailand to take an early lead with a routine par. Both teams missed the green at the second and while both recovery shots were clumsy, a pair of two putts meant the hole was halved in bogeys.
Normal service was resumed for England on the par-three third, as Lewis put his tee shot to tap-in range, and when Khongwatmai saw his putt from just off the green hit the pin and stay up, it was 1-1. A pair of stress-free pars followed on the fourth under the shot clock, and while England made par on the next with relative ease, Jaidee had to hole a clutch 11 footer to get up and down and keep things level heading to the sixth.
Waring put his tee shot to five feet to heap the pressure on the Thai,s but Jaidee took the same line and saw his ball roll five feet past past Waring’s effort. Khongwatmai could not make the birdie putt, but neither could Lewis and the players headed back to the tee for a play-off. Khongwatmai left Jaidee with 12 feet for birdie, but the former paratrooper could not make it and when Lewis missed his second chance from seven feet, history would be made on the third trip down the last.
“I’m genuinely gutted,” said Lewis. “We’ve come a long way, and we played so many good matches, but we slipped up a little bit in the beginning a couple of times, and that handed them a little bit of confidence. We did well to make it to the playoff, and unfortunately didn’t make the putts.”
Spaniards Jorge Campillo and Nacho Elvira needed just four holes to beat Italy in the third/fourth place play-off, making birdies on the first, third and fourth to secure a comfortable win.