Li Haotong fired a superb closing 64 to take home victory in the Volvo China Open. He finished three clear of Chile’s Felipe Aguilar at Topwin G&CC.
Li began the final round at Topwin G&CC two shots behind Felipe Aguilar and Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark. But the Chinese youngster produced a superb, error-free, fourth round and had caught Aguilar when he reached the 17th.
As Li made yet another birdie, Aguilar’s hopes of taking the title were sunk in the water hazard on the 16th. The resulting double bogey left the Chilean three adrift of Li and the 20-year-old from Hunan Province was able to par the last to take home victory in the Volvo China Open.
Aguilar held on to second place, finishing one clear of Bjerregaard as well as England’s Richard Bland and Marcel Siem of Germany, both of whom closed with fine rounds of 66.
Peter Hanson, Scott Hend and Richie Ramsay were tied for sixth at 17 under (five back of Li,) a shot clear of David Lipsky, Alex Noren, Borja Virto Astudillo and Fabrizio Zanotti who made up the top-10.
Alex Noren putting tips:
3 Talking points from the Volvo China Open
1 – It’s a breakthrough win for Li whose previous best was second: a playoff loss in the 2015 Shenzhen International. If he should choose to join, he will have an exemption on the European Tour until the end of 2018. Li is the fourth Chinese winner on the European Tour, following Zhang Lian-wie, Liang Wen-chong and Ashun Wu (who won this event last year.) With the victory Li could move into the top-130 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I just tried to relax myself and I’m really happy to hold the trophy,” he said afterwards.
Li was keen to give some credit to his caddy who convinced him to play it safe on the 18th.
“When I had my tee-shot, I walked to my second shot there and I was thinking I need to go hybrid to get to the front edge to give me an easy chip but my caddy said, ‘Haotong, you’re already three shots in the lead, you’ve just got to lay up and make par to win’. So thanks to him!”
2 – Richard Bland looked like he might have a chance to break his European Tour duck when he raced to the turn in 31 and picked up another shot at the 10th. But he could only play the final eight in level par and had to settle for a tie for third place. The 43-year-old Englishman first played on the European Tour back in 1998 and he has competed in 382 events. Although he has 20 top-10 finishes to his name, he’s yet to secure a victory.
3 – With a pair of closing 67s, Peter Hanson finished in a tie for sixth. It was the Swede’s best finish since he won the BMW Masters of 2012. That year he finished fourth in the Race to Dubai and played in the European Ryder Cup team that secured the “Miracle at Medinah.” But he’s struggled with a back injury since then and hasn’t been able to re-find his best golf. This finish could be a springboard for the 38-year-old who is yet to miss a cut so far on the 2016 circuit.
Volvo China Open
Topwin Golf and CC, Beijing, China
Apr 28 – May 1
Purse €2,700,000, par 72
1 Haotong Li (Chn) 69 67 66 64 266 €450,176
2 Felipe Aguilar (Chi) 68 65 67 69 269 €300,117
T3 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den) 68 67 65 70 270 €139,556
T3 Richard Bland (Eng) 69 67 68 66 270 €139,556
T3 Marcel Siem (Ger) 68 67 69 66 270 €139,556
T6 Peter Hanson (Swe) 66 71 67 67 271 €81,032
T6 Scott Hend (Aus) 71 68 68 64 271 €81,032
T6 Richie Ramsay (Sco) 68 70 67 66 271 €81,032
T9 David Lipsky (USA) 69 67 70 66 272 €52,671
T9 Alex Noren (Swe) 67 67 68 70 272 €52,671
T9 Borja Virto Astudillo (Esp) 67 70 68 67 272 €52,671
T9 Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) 66 71 67 68 272 €52,671
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage