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Chapchai wins with record 72-hole haul

THAI golfer Chapchai Nirat shot a 32-under-par over 72 holes, in what is thought to be the world's lowest winning margin for relation to par, to claim the SAIL Open outside New Delhi yesterday.

The 25-year-old Chapchai made a birdie on his final hole for a fourth-round 67 and a total of 256 on the par-72 Classic Golf Resort course in Gurgaon to better the previous mark of 31-under set by South Africa's Ernie Els on a par-73 course at Kapalua, Hawaii, in 2003 while winning the US PGA Tour's Mercedes Benz Championships.

Chapchai, who won his third Asian Tour title, also improved on the Asian Tour's previous best of 29-under, also set by Els, at the 2003 Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth, Australia.

Els had a 29-under 259 total on Perth's par-72 Lake Karrinyup course to also break the PGA European Tour's previous 72-hole record for relation to par of 27-under.

"My target was to win the title, I was not thinking of the world record," Chapchai said after draining his fifth birdie of the final round on the last hole. "I felt no pressure on the final putt, but it was a nice to see the ball roll in."

Chapchai punched the air, then folded his hands to accept the greetings from spectators. Chapchai won the title with an 11-stroke margin over Richard Moir of Australia and Gaganjit Bhullar of India, who finished with four-round aggregates of 267.

In Palm Harbor, Florida, Americans Steve Stricker and Nick Watney fired bogey-free four-under 67s to share the midway lead at the Transitions Championship on Friday.

Playing the back nine first at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, Stricker birdied three of his final six holes to join Watney, who lost out by a shot to Phil Mickelson last week at Doral, on six-under 136.

Lurking just one shot back was a pack of eight golfers, led by twice US Open champion Retief Goosen of South Africa who returned a three-under 68.

Americans Charles Howell III and Joe Ogilvie had the joint best round of the day signing for five-under 66s to join Goosen on 137.

Overnight leader Jim Furyk had a disastrous afternoon, slumping to a seven-over 78 that included five bogeys and a double-bogey to just squeeze in under the one-over cut.

In Huixquilucan, Mexico, Lorena Ochoa finally got the best of a hilly BosqueReal course by shooting a seven-under 65 to tie the course record and take a two-shot lead at the MasterCard Classic on Friday.

The world No. 1 has always struggled on the scrubby, rugged course carved into the mountains outside of Mexico City and has yet to win this tournament in four attempts. Last year, she opened with a four-over 76 - her worst score in nearly a year - and ended up eighth.

But this time could be different. Ochoa had five birdies and an eagle on the 541-yard ninth hole, with a green surrounded by water.

Ochoa held a two-stroke lead over South Korean Choi Na-yeon. Americans Brittany Lang and Pat Hurst and Chinese Taipei's Tseng Yani shot 68s and were tied for third.


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